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The last four months have confirmed that the future is unpredictable and difficult to predict. And yet, we still all desire to plan and move towards goals we have for our future selves.

How do we continue to plan and move forward when it feels like we are not in control of our lives? We do not know exactly what the future holds, however it is still important to work towards a vision of what you want to achieve in life. 

It is possible to use design skills to create different versions of our futures. We can apply the same principles we use to design products, services and business to our own lives. We can unite intention with serendipity. We can explore multiple possibilities of different desirable futures.

Analyse your last year to design your next five years
Welcome to the world of creating desirable futures with design thinking tools. The following exercise was taken from Bill Burnett and Dave Evan’s book, ‘Designing Your Life.’ 

In this book design thinking methodologies are applied to creating a life that is both meaningful and fulfilling. It can be used by anyone, at any stage or decision point of their lives. And what better time than now in the middle of uncertain times to start designing futures full of possibility, creativity and delight. This exercise can help us move forward even when our lives feel uncertain. 

Odyssey Plan Exercise
The future is only a concept, a possibility that hasn’t happened yet. This is core to the concept of future scenario planning. Scenario planning is a strategic tool that organisations use to test assumptions on what the future could be like. The scenarios are used as a tool to identify types of uncertainties and different “realities” of what might happen in the future.

The theory behind future scenarios says that there’s no such thing as a single future, rather there are many possibilities that might unfold. And just as importantly there are different paths to explore before committing to a single one.

As Bill and Dave, authors of Design Your Life, write, “There is no one idea for your life. There are many lives you could live happily and productively.”

What: Design 3 different versions of your next five years.

Why: We often believe that we only have one life ahead of us. Understanding that we have the potential of exploring multiple futures, or multiple lives, can help clarify which path to choose.

How: The Odyssey Plan is a graphic representation of three possible alternative lives you might live over the next five years.

Your first Odyssey plan should be the development of your life that is already in route. A desirable one, but something close to the life you are actually living.

The second plan is something similar to plan A with a few course corrections. Basically, it acts like a plan B.

The third plan is a wildly different alternative for your next five years. For this one, imagine that you have absolutely no restrictions, you could have all the money and resources in the world.

Use the template below from the book “Designing your Life” as a guide. 

You can download it here.

As you design future scenarios for your life, consider this quote from ‘Design Your Life’:

“Designers don’t think their way forward. Designers build their way forward.” 

You can check the book and all resources here: http://designingyour.life/

If you are interested in learning more about applying futures thinking to your life and work have a look at our learning experience options here or get in touch here with any questions.

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Megan Davis

Originally from Michigan, now living and creating in Melbourne, Megan considers herself a citizen of the world. She has been discovering stories since 2012, specialising in narrative strategy and storytelling for businesses that are daring to create new realities and futures.
She has traveled the world conducting workshops in New York, London, Berlin, and most recently Lisbon at the House of Beautiful Business in 2019 to teach people how to connect with storytelling to deliver strategic business results.
Putting empathy first in business and life, she loves sharing her knowledge by speaking, training, and consulting on projects that are changing the world.

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