Trevor John (previously Trevor Black) is an England-based polymath with experience and interests spanning areas as diverse as investment management, art, yoga, writing (on social media platforms and his blog) and reading. Driven by curiosity and an eagerness to learn about the world around him, Trevor has spent years building an enduring income engine so that he now has the freedom to spend his time on creative and personal projects and on building a global community of like-minded champions. This is his career journey to financial security:
Mind the Gap Years
I took the gap because I had two brothers studying already (making family finances tight) and I hadn’t narrowed down what I wanted to study (ignorant is a self-teasy way of saying always curious to learn). I went to the United Kingdom for the first time on a 2-year work-travel visa.
With the new decade well & truly underway, I’ve been thinking about the future, and wanted to share some helpful techniques with you. These techniques can enable us to extend the range of our thoughts, supporting us to take a longer-term perspective and imagine possible futures.
The future is itself an idea: we conjure it in our imaginations. We are better than other species at making this imaginative leap, and it is the reason we have civilisations, have landed on the moon, plant trees for future shade, and have built cathedrals across centuries, for posterity.
However, we’re also by nature impulsive and reactive... The short-term vs long-term tension is part of who we are, and balancing it appropriately is important. For example, this tension arises in the healthcare and financial services industries when encouraging people to look after their health. We’d mostly prefer to eat treats and relax on the couch, but doing this consistently is bad for us, so well-designed incentives (such as shared value models in an insurance context) can encourage us to make good choices now (like moderation and exercise) that lead to future health benefits.
This article is inspired by the work of Bina Venkatamaran, a former journalist and policy advisor who teaches at MIT, and Ari Wallach, a futurist. Both of them gave separate TED talks, and we also reference Bina’s book* and Ari’s essay in Wired magazine where he calls for a “visionary yet goal-oriented” framework for long-term strategy that “can help leaders navigate the balance between short-term gain and long-term ruin. A CEO might say: ‘That may be good for the bottom line, but it poses significant risks to our longpath’.”
It’s also about how we choose to measure our success, and the meaning of our lives. In Bina’s words: “Do we measure ourselves by the moment, by what’s happening in this immediate moment, or do we measure ourselves by what we’re doing towards the longer endeavour of both what we’re doing in this life and how we’ll be remembered?”
Read more to explore Bina and Ari’s ideas, examine our preference for immediate gratification and the mistakes we naturally make, consider our unique capacity for mental time travel, contrast prediction and forecasting against judgement and foresight, discover different tools and techniques for thinking ahead, and watch Bina’s TED talk. It’s particularly fitting too that 2020 is synonymous with perfect vision – I hope that these tools will help us all to envisage our ultimate aims more clearly.