4 Different Attitudes for Thinking About the Future

· November 12, 2018

There are different ways of thinking about life. Therefore, we can have different attitudes for thinking about the future. Given that the future is what’s to come and what hasn’t happened yet, we can never know what’ll happen with total certainty. Guessing the future is impossible, and this fact can lead us to experience negative emotional states.

Normally, the unknown generates fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. The future, that great stranger, produces these sensations when we think about it. But the future isn’t all bleak. We can do things to improve it. Although we can’t predict it, we’ll always have the possibility of showing a certain attitude which will help us feel prepared when facing it.

Broadly speaking, we can adopt four attitudes toward the future. Although they’ve been mostly used to determine leaders’ attitudes, they’re applicable to any context:

  • The ostrich’s attitude (passivity)
  • The firefighter’s attitude (reactivity)
  • The insurer’s attitude (pre-activity)
  • The conspirator’s attitude (proactivity)

The ostrich and passivity

Despite popular belief, ostriches don’t bury their heads in the sand when they feel they’re in danger. However, this attitude takes its name from this false belief. The ostrich’s attitude is based on passivity, on doing nothing. The ostrich’s attitude is to renounce seeing the world as it is until the changes are imposed.


One of the attitudes for thinking about the future is passivity.

This attitude is considered negative because it implies not being prepared in the face of what may happen. However, it’s not always bad. Doing nothing is a valid strategy that, at times, can be very effective. However, this attitude is also very risky. If the future requires us to change, we can miss out on many opportunities if we imitate ostriches.

The fireman and reactivity

In general, firefighters only act when there’s a fire. In other words, when it’s too late to be able to prevent the fire. This attitude toward the future is less passive than the first one we mentioned. It consists of waiting for the fire to happen before putting it out. Waiting for problems to happen before solving them is a very risky attitude because, in some cases, it may be too late.

Reactive people tend to act on stimuli without thinking (action-reaction). Although these strategies are effective in some cases, especially when there’s little time, hasty reactions usually make us make more mistakes.

The insurer and pre-activity

Insurers sell insurance, which puts a price on the possessions we have. In case something happens to them, we can recover their economic value. This attitude toward the future goes a step beyond the firefighter’s attitude. It tries to prevent something from happening and ensures that, if it does happen, at least not all will be lost.

The insurer’s attitude is considered pre-active. It consists of anticipating what can happen before it happens. Although it’s better to be prepared for what may happen, this attitude also has a negative aspect. Fear can lead us to be too pre-active, insuring everything for a high cost when the chances of something negative happening are very low.

There are 4 different attitudes for thinking about the future.

The conspirator and proactivity

Conspirators are always alert. Any sign leads them to distrust people. This attitude toward the future is called proactivity. It’s based on acting before something happens.

A proactive attitude goes a step further and seeks to change the future. People with a proactive attitude try to intervene so that reality fits their thoughts and plans. If a specific future is sought, a proactive attitude seeks to do everything possible to make it happen.

Different attitudes for thinking about the future

After seeing all the attitudes for thinking about the future, the normal thing is to lean toward the last two. Choose to have the pre-active surveillance of an insurer with the proactivity of a conspirator. That is, have an attitude aimed at anticipating future threats and the opportunities that appear on the horizon in order to correct your path without having to give up on your goals.