A routine chore got me thinking about life in 2031. What will life be like? And why should we be thinking about it now?
Finally, I have a new passport. It took a bit of effort, especially since the Australian High Commission here in London isn’t taking appointments. My old passport expired in May 2020. I had been planning to renew it, but then the lockdowns started. When the High Commission closed, the only option was an emergency passport renewal by post. At least I had a passport, but it was good for only one year.
When 2021 started, I still had May in mind as the renewal date. But, of course, it was March. For the first time in my life my passport expired. I had to apply for a new passport from scratch – an added complication in a complicated year.
The main hassle was finding someone to witness my photo ID. They needed to be Australian, have known me for an extended period of time, and have seen me recently. I didn’t know anyone in the UK who fit the requirements and wound up having to ask a friend from Japan who was traveling in Australia.
The whole thing took a while. But the passport arrived last week. And as I checked the details were correct, my eye lingered over the renewal date: May 2031.
Life in 2031
It won’t feel like “the start of a new century” anymore by 2031. We’ll be closer to 2050 than 2010. And the ʼ80s will be as distant a memory as the end of WW2 was in the ʼ80s.
We’ll be facing some of the same challenges. The pandemic might be over, but we will still be dealing with its economic, social, and long-term health consequences. Undoubtedly, we’ll be dealing with climate change as well.
Of course, there might be new challenges. The way we eat, the way we learn, and the way we work are all changing dramatically.
If change is inevitable, then why not be open to adapting to it?
Choosing To Flow Like Water
We’re getting a steady stream of albums from Prince’s famous vault of recordings. With each one, Sony is also pushing out a podcast series interviewing the people involved in making the recording. It seems clear to anyone listening that one of Prince’s favourite bits of advice was to “be like water”. He saw creativity as being enabled by the ability to stay loose, fluid, and in the moment.
We’re often anything but like water when we think of our future. We tense up imagining ourselves older, slower, surrounded by an unfamiliar world.
When you look at Prince’s career, or that of any great artist, what’s fascinating is how much they change and evolve, from decade to decade. And yet they retain a distinctive identity.
Change doesn’t undermine their integrity. Their artistry is like a great flowing river of creativity.
Doing The Work
In a recent piece, Your Ideal Day – How To Plan For A Better Life, we looked at an exercise that gets you thinking about your life ten years from now. That exercise can help you imagine the changes you need to make to live well in the future.
Whenever I’ve done that exercise what stands out most isn’t the things I want to add to my life, so much as the things I don’t want to continue doing. As I wrote in the piece, I never imagine my ideal future self “…eating takeout or doing email”.
I have no idea if I’ll still be on Instagram in 2031. But I’ll still be taking photos. So it might make more sense to invest my time in the craft of photography than the game of getting Instagram likes.
As much as I love paper books, I can’t imagine having more room to keep them. So maybe I should focus on buying more e-books and save paper for the books I want to read again and again.
It helps to ask what kind of long-term commitment you have to the things you do. This can clarify where you should spend your time.
Start Owning 2031 Now
If imagining yourself in ten years’ time feels hard, then try imagining yourself this time next year. Even the near future feels uncertain. We’re all holding our short plans very tentatively right now.
But the future is coming, and that means change as well.
By choosing to be adaptable in the face of change ,we give ourselves more chances to be resilient and better able to face the transitions we’ll need to navigate the way.