Times they are a changin’...
Artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, virtual reality, neural networks, cryptocurrencies — these developments (and others) are going to have a massive impact on the way we live, work, earn, and spend money.
It is expected that we will live longer, but also that much of our work will be replaced by robots and artificial intelligence.
And concepts like Universal Basic Income — the idea to give all citizens a basic living income regardless of their employment status — are being tested in places like Finland and New Zealand.
The question then becomes: if we don’t need to work to have our basic needs met, how will we spend our time?
Will it mean more in-person quality time with friends and family?
Will it mean that people will take advantage of the seemingly infinite access to information on the Internet, allowing us to experience a golden age of education and enlightenment?
Or will it mean that people will lose themselves in an alternate virtual reality world that brings more purpose to them than the “real” world? (Nerd alert: Ready Player One explores this potential future and is one of my favorite fiction novels :)
However things shake out, I see one trait becoming increasingly crucial to navigating this brave new world.
To maintain our sense of purpose, we’ll need to build the will to say no to easy digital temptations that steal our time and subtract from our fulfillment.
We’ll need to become better at listening to our hearts and carving out the space to pursue what brings us meaning.
In her book The Willpower Instinct, Stanford professor Kelly McGonigal writes:
“When pit against other virtues, willpower comes out on top. Self-control is a better predictor of academic success than intelligence (take that, SATs), a stronger determinant of effective leadership than charisma (sorry, Tony Robbins), and more important for marital bliss than empathy (yes, the secret to lasting marriage may be learning how to keep your mouth shut). If we want to improve our lives, willpower is not a bad place to start.”
Looking to the years ahead, as the playing field levels and access to both information and distractions increases, developing a strong sense of willpower will be a determining factor not just for us individuals, but for society as a whole.
P.S. Over the years, it has become clear to Mike and I that listening to our hearts and following our intentions is an ongoing practice (and challenge!), not a destination. It was this realization that led us to start the Holstee Membership :-)