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How Well Will You Live?

There are a lot of challenging trends out there that imperil your quality of life. Are you ready for them?Keep cool: it will be all one a hundred years from now.- Ralph Waldo EmersonIn 1995, I launche...

There are a lot of challenging trends out there that imperil your quality of life. Are you ready for them?

Keep cool: it will be all one a hundred years from now.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

In 1995, I launched the 400 Year Project, a search for ways of accomplishing 400 years of normal improvements in only 20 years. The concept was simple: Spend 20 years locating and demonstrating ways to accelerate worldwide improvements by 20 times and implement the results from 2015 to 2035 to make 400 years of normal progress in only 20 years.

Helping people to understand the benefit of accomplishing this task has not been so simple. In this article, let's consider what the project's benefits might look like for you.

Peering Forward 400 Years from 1607

All of life is a foreign country.

-Jack Kerouac

Imagine that you are Wahunsunacock, chief of the Powhatan Confederacy, in 1607, one week before the English colonists arrive to found Jamestown in what is now known as Virginia. Your power has no bounds. You are the most respected person among all of the people you've ever met. There is bounty for everyone, provided by nature's goodness. All is well. Who could want anything else?

If you think about the future, it is probably to imagine that life in 1617, 1627, 1637, 1707, 1807, 1907, and 2007 will be pretty much the same as in 1607. And you would be horribly wrong.

Your daughter, Pocahontas, will marry an Englishman, John Rolfe, and soon travel to England where she will meet the English Queen Anne and be treated like royalty. Pocahontas will die there from an infection for which she has no immunity. You won't know that England exists until the colonists arrive.

The English people will begin cultivating and exporting vast quantities of a new strain of tobacco which will help create a worldwide interest in smoking that will cause fatal diseases in untold millions for centuries to come. That choice of working hard to cause harm might strike you as a strange thing for the English to do instead of hunting, fishing, and enjoying life.

Your people will no longer be free to lead their accustomed lives on their ancestral lands within a few decades because more settlers will turn your hunting grounds and growing areas into their farms and plantations. In the process, many people will be slaughtered by the English. Many others of your people will die of diseases that were unknown until the English arrived.

The most powerful nation on Earth in 2007 (which is a lot bigger than anything you imagine) will be founded and locate its capital not terribly far from your home.

Now imagine that you are any of the immigrants who came to Virginia from other parts of the world over the next 400 years. Almost all those who came, except those who were enslaved in chains, would see this new home as a virtual paradise of opportunity. Many descendants of the chained arrivals, however, would still be seeking full access to opportunity in 2007.

Sometimes 400 years brings progress for certain lives, while the same 400 years can bring setbacks for others, including the powerful. For example, the president of the United States in 2007 probably didn't feel nearly as well-liked, peaceful, safe, and powerful as Wahunsunacock did in 1607.

How can you learn from these experiences to be sure that you gain more of the progress and fewer of the setbacks that the future could bring for you and your family?

I'll share some perspectives in articles that follow.

Copyright 2008 Donald W. MitchellPsychology Articles, All Rights Reserved

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Donald Mitchell is CEO of Mitchell and Company, a strategy and financial consulting firm in Weston, MA. He is coauthor of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. You can find free tips for accomplishing 20 times more by registering at:

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