You already have a time machine – now take it for a ride

You already have a time machine – now take it for a ride


Ida Hult is a Swedish futurologist.

The mind wanders about half of your awake time. Half of your days it is focused on something else than what you have at hand. You are very busy doing counterfactual thinking. You daydream or worry about the future. You reminiscence or more commonly brood upon regrets. When thinking about the past, a lot of us evaluate ourselves as inadequate in many ’what ifs’ and ’had I onlys’. To look back or think ahead could be used for good.


Your brain is in fact a fantastic time machine.


Let’s jolt ourselves off autopilot and into manual control towards the future. Here are a few things to try to go off assisted driving.

Find 100 ways how something could change. Imagine how perhaps a holiday celebration, a daily habit, or a physical place is different in the future. What is the birthday of the future like? Or funerals of the future? How do we commute in the future? Give birth? Have breakfast?

Predict the past. Think about a previously made decision of yours. What could have happened if you went with another option? How would the past and the present be different as a result? Think about the movie Sliding Doors for inspiration.

Remember the future. Think about how something might look 30 years from now. Imagine it as detailed as if it happened to you. Now put yourself in that scenario of yours. Experience it with your personality, skills, traits, preferences, appearance, values, and taste. How will they be challenged and developed here? Imagine your everyday life, your home, your society, and the planet.

Tune in to the news and turn each headline into a scenario. Think growth, collapse, limitation, and transformation for each story. Practice thinking about futures not the future, plural possibilities and all.

Pick a random person, from a painting, the street, from a picture, and imagine their life. What are they about to do? Why do they look like they do? How does a Tuesday look for them? Their hopes and fears?

Study science fiction. Identify a phenomenon that speaks to you. Add objects, clothing, food, expressions, and reasonings that would fit that world.

Be a contrarian. Study predications and the work of futurologists. Ask yourself. What is not there? Ask yourself if they are completely wrong how would the opposite scenario look. Challenge the safe bets.

Albert Einstein famously said that imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.


You see, all our knowledge is about the past, but all our strategic decisions are about the future.


To be good at foresight you need to practice your imagination. The future is not a destination but a creation. If you want the future to be different than the present, use your time machine.


Ida Hult is one of the speakers at the SHIFT Business Festival 2022. At SHIFT Ida will talk about strategic future visions and how to create an ability for seeing new perspectives for a more sustainable future.