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Three Horizons Thinking Toward 2024

Three Horizons thinking what is being born, what is being disruptive, and what is dying?

However you spend your days, whatever you think about more than anything else, and whether or not you consider yourself forward-thinking, you're transitioning into 2024, as we speak.

Three Horizons thinking is used in many fields as a framework for reflection, forecasting, and planning. It involves reflecting on:

  • what is being born

  • what is being disruptive (and how to work with it)

  • what is dying

Think about this in relation to all parts of your own life. Now that much of life has the ability to revert to what it was like before the pandemic, before you just blithely jump back into the swing of things, circa 2019, formulating the future on the past, take a beat . . .

What is Being Born (Horizon Three)?

In futures-thinking, we talk about drivers, which are large trends (think AI, automation, remote work, longevity, alternatives to retirement); and signals, which are concrete examples of how the future might be different (and if I named some, you might not have heard of them).

What are your personal drivers? Maybe you're a lifelong learner. You can point to that as a trend in your adult life for decades; it's nothing new.

Okay, well what are your recent signals? Maybe you've been working toward a new designation or you've been captivated by a new area of study or way of thinking. Maybe AI or AI safety and regulation or pandemics or climate change is now the topic you care most about.

Although there's a concrete example of a new thing you can point to, that doesn't mean it'll lead to a significant change in your life. What it means is that due to your new education, you're now positioned for a future of a different sort. We don't know what will happen yet, but we see a glimpse of what's possible by looking at our own signals.

Zoom way out. Do you notice new people in your life? A new online community? A new habit? A new workout location or style?

Maybe you made a big decision, like you stopped drinking alcohol, and that has led to a cascade of changes in your life. But also pay attention to what has been happening that didn't involve what you would call a life-altering decision, and is more the result of a gravitational pull. Name it. Decide if you want it to continue or not.

Maybe it's time for a new chapter of your story to be written. Maybe it's time for a plot twist. I don't know. What I do know, is that without reflection, you're rudderless and allowing the winds of change to blow you around. You're not driving the boat, and you're not aware of the condition of the seas you're in or the air around you.

What is Being Disruptive?

There's something you do or a relationship you have or a way you think that's in flux. Maybe there's a new person who challenges the way you think. Maybe your new workout routine has taken over other areas of your life (social/personal/financial). Maybe social media is disruptive for you and is affecting your well-being.

Again, zoom way out and observe the various parts of your life — social, physical, psychological, hobby, location, career, consumption (i.e., food, drink, social media, news), and finances. What is being disruptive?

What force, if nurtured, might lead to something new and exciting or might bring clarity? And what force is bringing you nothing but a headache (so far).

What is Dying (Horizon One)?

What's withering on the vine, kept alive by love, drive, money, attention, or some other resource, and without that resource, it would be dead. It might be a one-sided relationship that would be dead if it weren't for your constant efforts to keep it alive. It might be a career that has been in various stages of launching for years, and only the thoughts of your sunk costs keep it alive. Maybe it's membership in a community has clearly outlived its usefulness for you.

Putting it All Together

Use what's emerging, disruptive, and dying as fodder for the creation of your vision for 2024, and craft a few intentions:

  • Give whatever is dying a good death, and move on. No need to linger. Get on that now, and maybe even have it in your rear view by January 1. Make your Horizon One as brief as possible.

  • What is disruptive in your life, and do you immediately want less of it because it's disruptive? Think about that. The human brain doesn't like disruption and treats it like a threat. But disruption is the space for innovation and other opportunities for growth. Think twice about what/whom you don't like and why. Start now and explore ways to get answers, intending on mid-2024 as your deadline for getting your current disruption (which might cause new disruption) sorted out. This might involve research and experimentation.

  • List the various things that are being born and reflect on them. What do you want to nourish, and what do you want to archive? What was a one-off, and what's a keeper (for now)? Spend from now through Q1 sorting this out, getting direction, and acting.

The end of the calendar year can be a sacred time, filled with reflection, gratitude, and intention. So get out a pen and paper, or open a doc, and invest some time answering the questions. Freewrite (don't worry about grammar or punctuation) for 15 minutes daily during December, crafting a 2024 you can look forward to. Put some process to the end of your year — don't just wing it! Move forward with a mission and a vision.

May ease find you.



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