“The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be”

The title quote is attributed to Yogi Berra. It’s absurd yet relatable! 

My academic training was in economics, specializing in price forecasting. Forecasting involves applying statistical models to past data to anticipate future events. 

In applying my newly minted knowledge to the business world, I quickly discovered the truth in another Yogi line:

“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.”

I’m not sure where the future comes from, but it certainly doesn’t lean heavily on the past!

When I graduated from college, inflation was 8%, headed to 20%. Thirty-year mortgages were 9%, headed to 18%. The trend was up and very concerning. I would have never guessed that in the 40 years that followed, inflation would average around 3%, and mortgages would fall to the same level. 

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

– Yogi Berra

The future is surprisingly unknowable, yet we proceed as if what’s happening now will continue. 

A few years back, we remodeled our house, installing some really cool features….that we never ended up using!

I envisioned that when I retired, I would spend a lot of time with friends. Instead, we scattered to the four corners of the earth!

Predictions, plans, and purchases, “the best-laid plans of mice and men.” Have you ever bought exercise equipment you never used?

Looking back on my life, the most significant events were unanticipated and unplanned. 

So what’s my point?

Don’t get too “hung-up” on disturbing trends! 

I know that sounds crazy, but if the future were easily discerned from trends, we’d all be billionaires! 

Yes, climate change is concerning. Yes, political divisiveness is concerning. In fact, the whole world at present is disturbing!

But you know what? The future has an amazing capacity to surprise us.

I don’t deny the trends. I’m not saying we shouldn’t conduct our affairs in a responsible manner. 

What I am saying is that the only thing that’s true about forecasts (and by the way, it’s true 100% of the time!) is that they’re wrong!

So what’s one to do?

Here’s my recipe for happiness, success, and well-being:

1. Don’t worry about the future or stew over the past.

2. Manage personal behaviors in the direction of the outcomes you desire.

3. Devote your attention and energies to the present moment.

Have you ever “thumbed through” old photographs of friends and family and felt a wave of nostalgia wash over you? 

“These are the good old days!”


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Previous posts may be found here and here.

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