How to look ahead to the future?

When you decided to study in Aalto University you were probably thinking of  something along growing as a human, learning a professional identity, learning a job role, finding a career, succeeding to support yourself and feed your family, living a good life. 

Then came Covid-19 and things changed: in the old normal you studied at campus, now you can make progress in your studies regardless of where you are.  In the old normal you used to spend your meaningful leisure time in several places with your favourite people, now you should practice physical distancing from people who are not from your household both indoor and outdoor spaces. However necessary physical distancing is, feeling of loneliness can cause stress and anxiety. Fear about what could happen can be overwhelming.

The paradox of the future is that unpredictability is an integral part of the concept of the future. The present moment is always open from the other end to the unknown. We cannot detach from time. Still, it can cause stress.

The emergence of coronavirus reminds us that human beings are not the only actors on the planet and that sometimes things can happen that aren’t the result of any social movement or even political and economic system.

There are many future trends (but never trust a trend to be never-ending). Some of these megatrends are related to Covid-19, some are not.

-          Work is going to be more complex, creative, collective and digital, i.e. richer and more motivating as long as the skills are on the right level

-          If you are a university student, you are in a good position to find a job that is worth doing and a career that will develop your skills in a valuable way in an ecosystem of specialists.

-          Need for directions: growth, wellbeing or environment first

-          Information security needs

-          Mental wellbeing needs

-          Covid-19 pandemic treats both organizations and individuals very differently: loneliness can be a subtype of a pandemic, on the other hand remote working can increase well-being

-          Environmental sustainability challenge and economic challenges, technology can be a partial solution and the Covid-19 pandemic can accelerate the deployment of technology solutions. We have more fertile ground for many changes during the Covid-19 period.

-          Different organizations have different realities and different solutions are needed for the business and employees

-          Ecological reconstruction

-          The population is aging and diversifying – health challenges, religious issues

-          The power of networks become stronger

-          Glorifying strong leaders

-          Technology blends into everything

-          Change in tourism patterns, reduction of business travel

-          Flight shame, virtual travelling (a travel to Japan via Facebook can cost 5 euros, not bad…)

-          Absolute poverty has decreased (before 2020)

The future may not be straightforwardly according to some trends, but tensions between trends may shape the direction of development. The future is not predetermined. Therefore, it can be influenced by our actions and decisions! Trends are rarely black and white. Avoid all or nothing thinking. Remember hope. (Read more: Sitra What are Megatrends)

How to make lemonade out of these lemons?

Work has not disappeared, ways of working have changed. We often overestimate the impact of phenomena in the short run but underestimate their impact in the long run.

This is an exceptional time, but it is not exceptional that there are different times: after economically good times comes recession and then people will build back better society again. Work has always been under various revolutions and in change: the industrial revolution, when machine replaced physical work, the knowledge work revolution, when intelligent machines replaced routine work.

As technology changes, basic human psychology and biology do not change:  we need work to use our competence, to have autonomy and to have relationships. We need trust, we need hope, we need friendship and we need to show compassion. We need examples of identity to be able to adopt them, shape and create our own identity. We should concentrate more on what is common to us. In so many ways we are similar with each other.

Work touches your personal identity. By experimenting different job roles you will find your professional identity. We always make decisions in some context and the variables in those contexts interact with personal characteristics and influence development and decision making. When your motivation meets the demand of your environment, you will catch the first corner of your career path.


Difficult roads can lead to beautiful destinations

There’s been a growing recognition that the best wellbeing programs are holistic in nature, focusing not just on physical health but mental/emotional health, social, work-life and financial wellbeing as well.

In its Health 2020 policy framework, the World Health Organization says resilience “is shaped by the availability of supportive environments, which are essential for people to increase control over the determinants of their health.” The components of those “supportive environments” won’t — and shouldn’t — look the same for every person. We need to help ourselves and help others.


From crisis to transformation

Coping with fear of the future in a healthy way can make you, and the people you care about, stronger.

-          Question what is normal!  What is normal is shifting quickly in the current situation. Discuss with your friends or other supportive people, what the ‘new normal’ will look like. Where and when are you expected to study or work, what does your work consists of, what constitutes stress and what constitutes wellness? Challenge the ideas of normality and think about the best solution for your community.

-          Study together: show support, social solidarity and action. Could you set up a mutual aid group and be part of them?

-          Stay safe and hold on to the idea that the future might still lead us to a better world.

-          What kind of an organization would you like to work for? What kind of a society would you like to live in?

-          What could you do right away to find a better future as a member of this society?

-          How can you add predictability and security in your life right away?

Your first, second or third job does not have to be a dream job. Work is work. Your title or salary does not define your identity. Try a few surprising paths in working life. Don't compare yourself too much to others.

One probable recruitment interview question of the near future will be “what did you do during Covid-19 -period?” This is the time to play a leading role in your development, dream about growing as a human, develop self-leadership skills, stick to useful routines, learning a professional identity, learning a job role, finding a career, succeeding to support yourself and feed your family and living a good life.

Last modified: Monday, 22 February 2021, 11:10 AM