In, out, in, and out until you are ready to open up your eyes and carry on with your day. Ordinary Acts of Gratitude In some respects, this exercise might feel like simple Mentoring 101. But it adds in the critical futurecasting layers by forcing you to think in very specific terms about the future you want and how these individuals can help get you there. I like to do this exercise in my own life at least a few times a year. In article 1, I told you about Andy Bryant, one of my mentors at Intel. He was one of my people. When I was interested in doing futurecasting on a more individual level, he was critical in helping me figure out what that might look like. He challenged me. He asked me hard questions, questions that I didn't know the answers to and needed to go think about for a while. But it was that uncomfortable conversation, not knowing and taking the time to reflect, that led me to seeing my future in a more concrete way. That conversation changed my life. Boundaries or Barricades There's a difference between crafting boundaries and building barricades. Healthy boundaries are not insurmountable walls, just as they're not nonexistent limits that have been trampled on and destroyed. They're not the push-pull, reflex rebellion, or barricades we build around us to block everything out. Boundaries are rational, come from self-awareness, and allow us to encounter life at our own pace. They help us to maintain a healthy relationship between us and all else. They encompass our standards, what works for us and what doesn't. Barricades come from a life is black-and-white place, whereas boundaries take into consideration all the shades of grey.

Barricades mean we're always primed to defend ourselves, to don our shield and guard, which depletes our energy. Boundaries protect our energy, enabling us to function effectively. In addition to gratitude journaling and meditation, you can also cultivate your appreciation for loved ones and life through the following suggestions: Find a new way to apply one of your strongest traits. This is a way to cultivate gratitude for your skills, gifts, and talents. Although it may be tempting to compare your trait to someone else's in the process, this will only cause pride if you feel superior, or envy if you feel inferior; The best thing you can do is simply focus on finding new ways to explore what you do best. It doesn't have to be radically new either, just new enough to feel novel or interesting to you. Spend some one-on-one time with a loved one, at least once a week. The gift of your time is valuable, and using it to connect with another person not only helps you develop gratitude for your time, but also shows gratitude for your relationships. Write a letter or an email, and send it to someone who did something kind for you. It doesn't have to be something recent either, just something you can still remember. It showed me a new, clearer version of my future. Another one of my people, a person who propelled me, and continues to propel me, toward the future I want and the person I want to be, is Tiana. If I look at the two of us, she and I couldn't be more different. We have different backgrounds, life goals, worldviews, and experiences. We often don't agree, but her perspective and participation are vital for me to craft more complex and inclusive futures. She almost always starts off our conversations by telling me why I'm wrong, how I've missed something, or the perspective I'm lacking. But the discussions are positive and constructive, with the goal of making the future better. Okay, now it's your turn.

Who are three (or more) people who will play an active part in the creation of your future? Who can help propel you to the future you want? Barricades are rigid, impenetrable, block intimacy, and cause isolation. Boundaries are malleable depending on circumstances; Barricades are born from a place of fear and can hold us prisoner. Boundaries are born from a place of hope and provide freedom. Sometimes We Learn the Hard Way There are infinite boundary scenarios we will go through and grow through; We'll have different sets of boundaries in divergent areas of our lives and for our varying relationships. Foresight is the perception we bring to bear on any given upcoming chain of events. It's the ability to predict what might happen based on a back catalog of knowledge and experiences. It can be really useful in understanding that if it's going to rain then we might want to equip ourselves with a coat, an umbrella, and appropriate footwear. Hand-written letters tend to convey gratitude better. Even in cases where you can't actually deliver the letter, such as writing a message of gratitude for someone who is deceased, you can still keep it tucked into your gratitude journal as a way of appreciating their memory. Every day, take a mental note of the small kindnesses people show you. The appreciation they show toward you, even if it is justified by your skillset, is still a kindness worth noting. This cultivates gratitude for basic decency, and opens the door for you having gratitude for any respect you receive. Be awake to your senses. How does your skin feel against the floor, against the air, against the clothes you wear? If you experience an enjoyable sensation, take note.

This applies to sights and sounds too, whether they narrate an event or evoke an emotion. These are all simply ideas to start you off; Why do you think they can help? Will they support you in a positive way? FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS: Do these people have an alternative perspective to yours? Do you and these people come from different backgrounds? Will these people challenge you? In addition to answering these questions, as a bonus revisit Quick Questions 1 for yourself and then take it to the people you have identified. Ask them the exercise questions and use the questions to have a conversation about the future. See how that discussion goes. Was it positive? What it's not great for is helping us to predict things we've never experienced or have no knowledge of. That's why our romantic relationships can be a minefield and so angst ridden during our teenage years. Having never navigated boundaries within a romantic relationship, we're going to experience the push and pull and compromise and uncertainty and pain that convert our foresight into hindsight for the future. If we're lucky, we'll have grown up seeing healthy relationships around us that serve as boundary templates and give us the chance to borrow other people's foresight, but if we didn't, we'll learn the hard way, and man, it hurts to wade through that. We might beat ourselves up with self-criticism, but we quite literally don't know what we don't know. Building that back catalog of experiences and knowledge takes time; There's nothing about setting and holding boundaries that's comfortable. It's a case of living through the short-term awkwardness for a longer-term gain.

We Don't Press Pause Life is a series of micro and not-so-micro decisions. When expressing gratitude to someone else, always make sure the person you're speaking to understands what you're saying. If you do this, you'll not only deepen a connection that could later aid you in your quest for authorship, but you'll also bring a little warmth and cause for gratitude into someone else's life too. Way back in the introduction, we touched on how your mind is ultimately responsible for the shape of your life. The degree to which this is true is deep and far reaching, coming down to more than simply the decisions we make. Going deeper, subtler, we begin to see that our very thoughts can shape our future. Not through some mystical wish-power nonsense mind you, but rather through helping us keep the most useful perspective we can. Knowledge, expression, gratitude, cognitive boosts: all these and more help us maintain the best perspective we can, but we aren't limited to leaning on these to help us up. While thought is one of the most powerful ways through which we can shape our lives, a surprisingly potent way of shaping our thoughts themselves is through. The Value of Humor and Perspective According to an old scientific article written by members of the University of Western Ontario, there is a direct correlation between one's sense of humor and one's ability to stay motivated and cope with stress (Kuiper et al. Did you feel more energy and support after the conversation than before it started? After you've taken the time to reflect on Quick Questions 1, go back to your people and tell them about the future you and that you'd like to involve them in this process. I bet you'll find they consider it an honor and are willing to do what they can to make your future come true. A View from the Bottom Before we move on from people and the future, I want to share one more story to show how this critical shift in perspective can lift people from the lowest depths of despair. I was sitting in my library, writing a research report, when I got a text: You there, futurist? Yep, I replied. Tell me I have a future, Tara answered.