Are You Stuck in the Future Quo?

We all know people who are stuck in the status quo. Even though the world has changed they are nostalgic about the past and continue to think that if they just stick with it they can recreate the glory days.

The newspaper and music industries were stuck in the status quo as the digital revolution changed the world.

Sports teams that win a championship & then hold on to the heroes who won that championship way past their prime, they’re stuck in the status quo too.

One of the most interesting concepts Seth Godin writes about in his latest book Linchpin is being stuck in the “future quo.” He writes:

For many of us, the happiest future is one that’s precisely like the past, except a little better.

Nostalgia for the future is that very same feeling about things that haven’t happened yet.

Nostalgia for the Future

We have this tendency to fantasize about the future. We map out in our minds what position we’ll have at work in 10 years if things go according to plan and we get promoted every 2 years. Shortly after our kids are born, we start imagining them playing baseball or doing ballet, graduating from high school, going to college, getting married, having grand children. In our businesses, churches and non-profits, we put together 5 and 10 year strategic plans, even though we have no idea what the economy or technology will be like in 5 years.

In some ways this is good. If you don’t know where you want to be in your career in 10 years, you probably won’t get there. If you don’t imagine your kids in college, you probably won’t save enough money to get them there. And every organization needs a strategic plan.

Attached to an Outcome

But the problem comes when we go beyond merely planning for the future to longing for a specific future. We become “attached to an outcome, often one we can’t control.”

“You don’t want your head of business development to have serious nostalgia for a particular future. If she does, she’ll hold on to the deals and structures that make that future appear, and undervalue alternatives.”

You don’t want your kids to have a serious nostalgia for the future or they will be crushed when their boyfriend breaks up with them, they don’t make the team, or they don’t become an astronaut.

From the Christian perspective, when we’re stuck in the future quo, we are unwilling to follow God when his plans for us deviate from the future we’ve imagined for ourselves.

If we have nostalgia for a future that includes a new car, we resist God’s leading to give to someone in need. When we have nostalgia for corner office, we resist God’s leading to work less serve others. When we have nostalgia for a church that will forever sing the songs we like, teach on the scripture we like, and include people who look like us, we resist God leading our church to change. When we have nostalgia for a future where everyone we knows lives into their 90s, we despair when people have accidents or get sick.

How tight is your grip?

How nostalgic are you for the future? Are you locked into the future quo? Do you find yourself anxious or even fearful about losing something you don’t even have yet?

Or are you adaptable? Do you hold on loosely to your dreams?

Godin writes, “The linchpin is able to invent a future, fall in love with it, live in it – and then abandon it on a moment’s notice.” Agree? Disagree?

[image by wildtexas]

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