Why Future Shock Is So Scary and What You Can Do About It

Back in 1970, Alvin Toffler wrote a best-selling book entitled “Future Shock”. The book is about our present. But that present was based in a world of 1970 and the author’s theories on what our future would be like.

Future shock is what happens when we're overwhelmed by change. That can be scary, but there is something you can do about it...plan ahead!

Future shock is about what happens to those who are overwhelmed by change. Change affects our products, communities, organizations, and even our patterns of friendship and love. Fifty plus years later, we are still experiencing future shock and we are no better off at dealing with it today, so long after Tolliver first coined that phrase. That’s because our future is very scary. It always has been, and it always will be. But why is that?

The Future Is Always Unclear

Since no one has a crystal ball, any prognostication about the future (or even just your future) is at best an educated guess. There is no way for you ever to know what your future is going to be exactly like and because of that, many of us simply choose not to think about it and not to deal with it. What a terrible mistake that almost always turns out to be.

That’s because by ignoring the future and all of the possible twist and turns life can take, you can’t build up any planned defense against what might happen. The what ifs of life are many and varied, and some even have dangerous results, so that ignoring any or all of them is akin to wandering through life with blinders on. That might work with horses, but not for humans.

Educated Guesses Are Possible and That Makes for a Plan

I made a comment just the other day and I said if that it appears we spend more time planning where we will order dinner from tonight then we do at planning a budget. Think about it for a second. If you actually do have a budget, do you review it very often? Do you revise it at least every year, but more likely more often as needed? The answer to those questions for many of us is probably “no”.

That’s why planning a single meal that you discuss with everyone in your family, go over take-out menus, and check and compare prices seems so foolish to me. One meal and $25, or your entire annual budget numbering in the thousands and thousands? Which is more important and impactful?

What Is Your Future Shock All About?

First, in trying to answer this question, you will need to separate the near-term shocks from the long-term shocks.

No one that I know had “pandemic” in the future shock lottery, so now that we have had that on our plates, it’s time to think about life after COVID-19. What does that mean?

Short term, it means health, job, income, and re-establishing normalcy to your life. That isn’t just going to happen without planning for it. It reminds me of that old phrase “plan for success” that is often heard. That’s because if you actually have a plan, you can see yourself moving forward in it. You can also be flexible and change the plan as needed. It’s always the ones with no plans that fail.

Building Relationships, Family, and Retirement

When it comes to relationships, there are several approaches that people use, or don’t use. Since I am not advising you on your dating skills or courtship rituals, I won’t even try to tell you about it. It’s enough to say this: Everyone needs some kind of relationship network, be it family or friends, if they want to have a good life. It may not involve marriage and kids, but it should involve friends and family. If you ignore those things, your future shock will be unpleasant at best and very lonely.

However, I will speak about your potential future shock with retirement. No matter what age you are currently, you will eventually want to retire and retire comfortably. The question is: How will you actually do it? Things happen all the time that can derail a retirement like health problems and other reasons causing you to stop working before you wanted or being out of work for a year like in a pandemic and not being able to save any money while you’re out. That’s if you had a plan to save money for retirement in the first place.

If you do have a plan and it involves investing in the market, then you may be at a low point at times and actually be losing money when you do. There are so many things that can take you astray that you simply must have a plan and that plan has to consider many facets to it.

Your Future Shock Isn’t 50 Years Away

Future shock isn’t part of science fiction even though it sure sounds like it. However, science may and will play an integral part in the future.

We are making a mistake though if we think that science always solves the problems we have and always dulls the shock we get. Sometimes it can actually make problems worse than they were before science stepped into the picture. Think about all the plastic waste we have ever since science developed the plastics we use dozens of times a week. Landfills abound with plastic waste. That’s just one example.

Time is a great asset when it’s on your side, but we have no guarantees about that. That is the single reason why you must make plans, use them, and re-evaluate them all the time. Planning is a safeguard and good planning takes time and energy. Use all of the resources you have and that includes using others who may have the experience and knowledge to help.

Final Thoughts

The book “Future Shock” has sold millions of copies and was a huge best-seller back in 1970.

Most of the predictions about life in the 21st century haven’t come true yet and may never happen, but some have. You’ll find the book an interesting read. But even more so, it will illustrate for you how important it is to move ahead with your eyes wide open and prepare for your future. There’s still a chance you can influence yours and everyone else’s too.

Does the word “plan” appear in your vocabulary? If not, why not? Shockingly, many do not plan and they may be right in the middle of a future shock! Don’t let that be you.

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