We live in an exponential age where digital technology is seeping into society at an accelerating rate. And it’s changing how we live, work, & interact with one another. Because these changes are happening at an exponentially expanding rate, human beings will have trouble keeping up with the changes. It creates a sense of future shock.
Future shock is a condition of discomfort, confusion, and uncertainty created by rapid societal and technological change. Put another way, the world’s changing really fast and many people are struggling to make decisions on how best to manage their lives. The causes and consequences of this specific struggle are future shock.
We struggle to process exponential change because we’re more accustomed to linear growth. It’s the difference between step by step growth and hard to predict giant leaps forward.
So how can you best navigate the indecisiveness that is caused by future shock?
Learn to follow your instinct
As we enter a time of rapid and accelerating change, the risk of suffering from future shock increases.
It’s an inescapable type of fatigue and paralysis. No one is immune to it. And as a consequence, you have to learn to live with future shock by adapting quickly to your surroundings. Sometimes that means acting before you have a complete understanding of the total picture. Before you’ve collected all the data that would make you comfortable with a decision. You’ll need to learn to develop and act on instinct.
But there is a challenge to acting on instinct.
It’s incomplete reasoning based on past experience and limited data from the present situation. It’s built on passive systems within your mind. Based on past experience and your minds ability to intuitively fill in gaps of logic. Ie: in the absence of complete real time data, your mind will make a guess based on past experience.
But when your active mind begins to reflect on an instinctive idea, it can insert doubt into the mix. And doubt is paralyzing.
What is meant by learning to act on instinct?
When you encounter a new situation, your instinct automatically comes up with a course of action. To avoid the paralysis of future shock, you should act on your instinct immediately and decisively.
As a way to manage your risk of making dangerous choices, create predetermined frameworks for managing risk in these types of situations. As an example, before taking action, you can always ask yourself if the action is potentially dangerous. If yes, then pause the activity and reevaluate.
But what you don’t want is for the executive function within your brain to come up with nine million reasons that stall action by attempting to manage risk in the moment. Poisoning your mind with fear and self doubt as a result of a lack of data.
This is where future shock seeps in. Creating analysis paralysis.
As we move deeper into the exponential age, the high achiever skillsets are those designed to make quick and decisive choices. High achievers act quickly and measure results to understand if they’re going the wrong way. If new data indicates a wrong choice, then they abandon the effort. If data confirms they’ve made the right choice, they double down on the decision.
But in many ways, standing still can be the worst option because their is a stickiness to the decision. This is because the people that make the right choices in the exponential age will develop accumulated advantage. When good decisions compound at an accelerating rate, they leave the competition behind. This means that if your peers are taking action and winning, you’re now much less likely to catch up to them because they are riding exponential growth trends.
So the moral of the story, develop your instinct and use it to take quick decisive action. Measure results and course correct quickly. Because there are consequences to indecision. And those consequences are increasing at an exponential rate.