Back to the Future: 30 years? No thanks – we deal in baby-steps…

Does the idea of a ‘career defining step’ need a re-think? Maybe every career choice is defining. Tariq tries to predict the future…..

So, after years of fake emails with doctored screen grabs, Wednesday actually does finally mark the date which Marty McFly time-travelled forward to in Back to the Future 2.  It’s a completely random date – 21st October 2015 – but 30 years into the future probably seemed far enough away to allow them to build a crazy futuristic world and sort of get away with it.  But how much of the detail in the movie actually rings true in today’s real world?

Well, off the top of my head, we do admittedly now have ‘hover-boards’ (of sorts). With bad guy character Biff, the movie also has an evil money-grabbing, power hungry, above-the-law businessman with a monopoly over his markets – which we can definitely all recognise in the real 2015….but, thinking about it, we could recognise that in 1985 too.  And most of them today are actually the exact same bad guys they were back then!

This brings me to my point, because amongst all the recent BTTF-themed excitement on social media about this, one thought has struck me above all else; while some institutional things might never seem to change – as individuals we really don’t know what the future holds.

Forget 30 years – where are we going to be in 5 years? 

At the risk of coming across a bit ‘Hollywood cheesy’ – we create our own futures with the decisions we make. Specifically with the career decisions we make – and we shouldn’t make these decisions based on what’s 10, 20 or 30 years down the line – we should simply be thinking; ‘is this a progressive step for me?’. ‘Will this make me a stronger proposition when I make the next move after this one?’

It sounds selfish, but the priority needs to be ourselves, and our career choices should reflect that. We need to make ourselves the solid, indispensable elements in all this because, frankly, outside factors are too variable and too out of our control. The last 30 years is testament to that…

We can’t travel across time, but our ability (and will) to travel across the world to live and work in different geographies has never been greater. Powerhouses such as Singapore and Dubai have thrived almost exclusively on the drive and innovation of expats over the last 3 decades. 30 years ago there was no BRIC and MINT on the international stage and who would have ever believed that the fastest-growing, most exciting and influential economies in the world would include Indonesia, Brazil, Nigeria, Mexico, Turkey and India?

Industries such as telecoms, media, retail, FMCG, manufacturing and digital/tech are a world away from where they were even 10 years ago – and almost unrecognisable compared to 30 years ago. Where on earth will they be by the end of the next decade?  Meanwhile, as we have seen very recently, it can take just a few dodgy traders, an oil spill, a natural disaster or a regional product recall to massively re-shape the banking, oil & gas, insurance or auto markets.

The point again is, we can’t predict the future. The geographies we work in and the industries we specialise in are susceptible to change, reform and shake-ups through no direct impact or fault of our own. The world has changed, and 10, 20, 30-year thinking does not exist anymore.  Did it ever?

I’d take the zero off the 30 and start from there.



However, I’m still waiting for a jacket that dries itself.



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