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Futureproofing: Navigating The Ruins



Let's be clear on one thing: this is not the world your parents meant for you to inherit.

The world they had in mind was a much safer, more stable world. Sure, there were surprises no one saw coming, but this is true in day-to-day life just as it is in the bigger picture. The end of the Cold War caught us all by surprise, as did 9/11, to name two examples. The wholesale outsourcing of jobs to cheap labor markets was not something your parents anticipated, although the precedent had been set decades before. One would do well to remember that American industrial jobs moved to the South to escape unionized labor and seek favorable tax policies; that those jobs have continued to move in search of greater profits, lower wages and regulations can be seen as the logical conclusion of policy. Besides, in your parents time, if you left one job, you could always find another. Times have changed, indeed.

Your parents couldn't foresee a time when savers would be punished for saving, but this is where we find ourselves. In the early days of my work life, a savings account meant your frugality would earn 4%, more if you purchased a Certificate of Deposit (note I avoided "CD", which most people remember as a music disk). Today, a savings account earns a fraction of one percent. Such is the cost of risk aversion in the age of zero interest rates, but should one have to turn to the stock markets as the only source of potential profit on savings, to say nothing of the potential for loss?

Your parents likely failed to foresee cybercrime, social media, live streaming of beheadings, global economic crises, jobless recoveries, and rank amateurs elevated to the highest office in the free world thanks to a catchy slogan and bright red hat. You can't fault them for this, as these are truly momentous times. As such, we would do well to pay careful attention and navigate accordingly.

In order to navigate, one must have an up to date map. Read, stay informed, but more importantly, do so critically. Read outside your comfort zone, ie. if you're a loyal reader of Huffington Post, drop in on Fox News for a (very) different perspective.

Successful navigation requires a compass. Without one, you're no longer navigating, you are drifting. Acquiring a compass isn't easy. It demands constant review of your morals, ethics, actions, biases. The trick is to avoid mistaking something you read and agree with for original thought. The review process is ongoing and arduous, but it is the only way to find your authentic self. Proceed and grow.

A word of warning: burnout is real and to be avoided. Between keeping up to date and processing the info into something you can call a mindset, you're very likely to become overwhelmed. Take regular breaks, enjoy your downtime. Remember, the purpose of futureproofing is to avoid the stresses of a rapidly changing world.

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