Most people have never been asked to contemplate the question: "What do you hope to achieve in your life and what kind of person do you want to be?"
This realization was the genesis of the Future Authoring program. Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto, decided to ask his students to sit down and write about their ideal future. They were asked to specifically describe the type of person they wanted to be, the skills they wanted to attain, and the relationships they wanted to have, among other things.
Simply through this guided contemplation, Dr. Peterson's students found themselves feeling like they had more direction in life. They were less anxious about the uncertainty of the future, and knew what they could do today to start down the path of becoming the person they wanted to be.
Since that first class, the Future Authoring program has been designed, refined, and deployed to thousands of people. It has been found to be profoundly effective at aligning goals with actions, and helping people define what they want their future to look like and achieve it.
How it works
The Future Authoring Program is designed to help you imagine your ideal future, three to five years down the road. What would your life be like if you could set it up in the manner that would be best for you? You will be asked to consider the people you admire, things you could do better, your educational and career goals, what habits you would like to improve, your family life, your social network, and your leisure activities.
Then you will be asked to write freely, without regard for grammar or spelling, for 15-20 minutes, on a page like this one. It is best to use your imagination, to daydream, during this process. After that, you will be taken through a series of exercises that will help you specify, in detail, your ideal future, by summarizing, titling and prioritizing your goals, evaluating your motives, considering their personal and social impact, strategizing for their attainment, identifying potential obstacles and their solutions, monitoring your progress, and evaluating your decisions.
The Future Authoring program can take as long a time as you wish to spend on it. We do know from our research that more writing is better.
"The Future Authoring program was enjoyable and rewarding, and it helped me realize how attainable certain goals of mine were, with work. I aspired for a lot of things, but I thought that some were just lofty goals instead of actual possibilities. Even though these were exercises that I might have been able to do without guidance, their structure and thoroughness were very helpful. I really enjoyed them and appreciated the opportunity to do this kind of assignment in a university class. I wish I took the class earlier (before my final year of undergrad), so that I could have used what I learned from the Future Authoring program in my academic endeavours more."
"I did find a great deal of value in writing my ideal future and my worst possible scenario and frequently refer back to these in my daily decisions. I feel that after defining these I have much more direction in what I do every day. I spend much less time on time-fillers like facebook and tending to my phone because I'm more aware of the things I want to do (or should do) to achieve my goals."
"The Future Authoring program was a great way to solidify and identify my goals, heading towards the future. Now that I've explicitly stated them, how to succeed and avoid falling short, I feel that I can no longer run away from them or make excuses because responsibility now weighs heavily on my shoulders. It was an eye-opener thinking about the worst-case scenario in my life, and I realized how badly I didn't want that."
"Being asked to write out your goals, and question why these goals are important, and how they are going to influence your life in the future, can be challenging. The future authoring assignment really made me think about where I wanted to be (or where I saw myself) in the next three to five years. However, upon completing the Future Authoring program I was able to visualize my ideal future. Furthermore, critically thinking about and analyzing each individual goal has made me realize why this future is something I want and desire. It has also motivated me to accomplish these goals, or at least strategize about those steps I need to implement and plan today to succeed in achieving my goals."