How To Always Predict And Know Your Future

We all want to know what the future holds.

Good future predictions are careful estimates at best, and should be used more as a guide rather than an absolute certainty.

Yet, according to the public record and as far back as most can remember, people have been trying to predict the future with precision.

From ancient civilizations consulting oracles to modern scientists developing complex models to forecast weather patterns, the desire to know what lies ahead runs deep in our psyche. 

Lately, I’ve been exploring economic cycles and watching the financial markets. As such, I was reviewing content from several analysts when it suddenly dawned on me.

Everyone is trying to predict the next series of events, including myself to some degree.

After conducting loads of research, I thought what I found would make for an interesting article. The information you’ll find here should also give you a better understanding of your future.

We Want To Control Our Outcomes

The heart of wanting to know what will happen next comes from seeking control in an uncertain world. The more we think we know, the more prepared we feel. This, naturally, creates a sense of security and advancement.

From a psychological standpoint, the human mind tends to find comfort in certainty.

Predicting the future provides a semblance of order in an otherwise unpredictable world. It offers a sense of readiness, enabling us to make informed decisions and plan for potential challenges. 

Some argue it’s closely tied to our evolutionary drive to anticipate and mitigate threats, thus allowing for survival and adaptation to changing environments.

This article published by Psychology Today explores the desire to know the future and provides a few ways on how to cope.

Amazingly, when it comes to specific, detailed global events that theoretically could affect everything, including most intricate personal ones, we often get predictions wrong.

History Is Filled With Predictions

Throughout history, we have all tried to find ways to know what tomorrow brings.

It’s not surprising that throughout history, we have sought to unveil the future using various methods, some rooted in mysticism and others in science. 

Ancient civilizations turned to astrology, entrails, and oracles, believing these methods could provide insights into the will of the gods and the course of human events. Over time, the methods for predicting the future have evolved significantly, now encompassing data analytics, trend analysis, and complex algorithms. 

This journey reflects our enduring quest to pierce the veil of the future, showcasing both our imaginative capacity and our relentless pursuit of knowledge and control. Below I’ve listed a few of those historical trends.

Mysticism And Religion

Astrology: The belief that the positions and movements of celestial bodies (planets, stars) can influence human events and individual destinies.

Tarot Reading: Using a deck of tarot cards to gain insight into the past, present, or future by posing a question to the cards.

I Ching: An ancient Chinese divination practice involving the random casting of coins or sticks to select hexagrams that provide guidance. 

Fun fact. I’ve used the I-Ching, initially to see if I could accurately predict the future.

I wrote about the I-Ching here if you’d like to know more. In brief, it’s an awesome tool for digging deeper into yourself psychologically, but a poor choice for accurately knowing what tomorrow brings.

Prophetic Dreams: The interpretation of dreams as omens or foretelling future events, common in many cultures and religious texts.

Oracles and Prophecies: In ancient cultures (like Greece’s Oracle of Delphi), prophets or oracles made predictions often interpreted as divine messages.

Science and Observation

Astronomical Observations: Early astronomers predicted celestial events (eclipses, comets) by tracking celestial bodies’ movements.

Weather Forecasting: Modern meteorology uses data from satellites, radars, and weather stations to predict weather conditions.

Evolutionary Predictions: Predictions based on evolutionary theory about future adaptations and species survival.

Mathematics and Computational Methods

Statistical Models: Employing statistical methods to analyze data and predict future trends based on historical patterns.

Machine Learning and AI: Using algorithms and neural networks to analyze data and make predictions in various fields, from stock market trends to medical diagnoses.

Chaos Theory and Nonlinear Dynamics: Studies systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions, helping in making predictions for complex systems like weather and economies.

Economic and Sociopolitical Methods

Economic Indicators: Utilizing indicators like GDP growth rates, unemployment rates, and market trends to predict economic futures.

Game Theory: Applying mathematical models of strategic interaction among rational decision-makers to predict outcomes in economics, political science, and psychology.

Scenario Planning: A strategic planning method that organizations use to make flexible long-term plans based on potential future events.

Other Methods

Psychic Predictions: Claims by individuals to foresee future events through extrasensory perception (ESP) or other paranormal means.

Technological Forecasting: Predicting future technological advances and their societal impact, often used in business and innovation strategy.

Environmental Modeling: Using computer models to simulate and predict changes in environmental conditions and their impacts on the world.

As you can see, we are all somewhat addicted to finding ways to see things before they happen, no matter the method.

Making Accurate Predictions Is Incredibly Difficult

Predictions with accuracy are incredibly difficult.

Predicting the future, whether it involves weather patterns, economic trends, or technological advancements, is fraught with challenges. 

Despite significant strides in science and technology, accurately forecasting future events remains complex. Here you’ll find some primary obstacles I’ve discovered in creating precise predictions, and why they often fail. 

Intricate Systems

One of the most significant challenges in predicting the future is the complexity of the systems involved. Systems like the global climate, financial markets, and human societies trend with chaotic behavior, where small changes can lead to vastly different outcomes. 

This is known as the butterfly effect

This sensitivity to initial conditions makes long-term predictions extremely difficult, if not close to impossible.

These systems are also often interconnected, with changes in one area rippling across others in unpredictable ways. 

For example, a political event in one country can have unforeseen economic impacts globally, complicating the task of forecasters. 

We Have Cognitive Bias

Another notable hurdle to accurate prediction is the presence of mental biases in reasoning. 

These biases can skew our perceptions and lead to erroneous conclusions.

For instance, confirmation bias leads us to favor information that supports our preconceptions, ignoring evidence to the contrary. Similarly, overconfidence bias can make us overly certain about the accuracy of our predictions, disregarding the possibility of error.

These are not just individual failings; they can influence entire organizations and societies, leading to widespread misconceptions and flawed decision-making. 

Historical examples abound where collective biases have led to grossly inaccurate predictions, from the dot-com bubble to the unexpected outcomes of political elections. 

A great example can be found in the downfall of the energy company Enron in 2001.

The company’s culture of aggressive risk-taking and disregard for ethical considerations was reinforced by strong conformity pressure. This environment discouraged dissenting opinions and critical analysis. The result was fraudulent practices and financial strategies that ultimately resulted in the company’s bankruptcy and a significant crisis in the energy market.

There Is Never Enough Data

In the era of big data, it’s easy to assume that more information equates to better predictions. However, the quality, relevance, and interpretation of data play a more critical role than quantity alone. 

Data can be incomplete, outdated, or biased, leading to flawed forecasts. Furthermore, the unprecedented nature of future events means there’s often no historical data.

Unexpected events, known as black swan events, pose a particular challenge. 

These rare and unpredictable occurrences can have profound impacts, dramatically altering the course of history and rendering previous predictions obsolete. The COVID-19 pandemic is a recent example, demonstrating how unforeseen events can disrupt even the most well-founded forecasts.

Some Succeed, But Most Big Predictions Fail

Depending on the field of study, it can be argued that most predictions generally fail. However, as the adage goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

The truth is, that predictions have various levels of success from weather forecasts, stock market movements, and technological advancements, to outcomes of sports events, and more.

The accuracy, however, can be wildly different.

When it comes to weather forecasting, advancements in technology and methodology have significantly increased accuracy. A study by the American Meteorological Society found that modern five-day weather forecasts are as accurate as a one-day forecast was in 1980. This indicates a substantial improvement in prediction accuracy over time.

Of course, that’s the weather. 

Getting that right or wrong may personally affect an outdoor activity or travel, but it’s generally low in the emotional spectrum. In contrast, most wrestle with predictions related to money, sports, and politics…the “big” ones.

Financial markets in particular are notoriously difficult due to the markets’ complex and chaotic nature. 

The Efficient Market Hypothesis suggests that it is impossible to consistently achieve higher returns on a risk-adjusted basis than the market overall.

In other words, stock prices already incorporate and reflect all relevant information, and thereby there is no way to make a prediction.

While many traders and analysts attempt to foresee market movements, studies have shown that the majority of actively managed investment funds underperform their benchmarks over long periods, indicating a high failure rate in predictions. 

Sports and politics carry similar variables, which makes it tough to accurately predict outcomes. Granted, with politics polling data can offer insights into the success trajectory of one candidate from another, but even that has been proven inaccurate often. 

The result is that emotionally significant issues, such as money, tend to be more often wrong than right. 

This article published in The Conversation summarizes why so many economic forecasts are wrong.

Here Is How To Know Which Predictions To Watch

Knowing what to watch out for helps when reviewing predictions.

In studying predictions, I found that many people, myself included, misunderstand its nature and purpose.

Predictions are not certainties; they are informed estimates based on available data and methodologies.

Most who proclaim an event on the horizon often do so from a genuine place of collected and analyzed data. That information does provide a glimpse of what is happening in the world. It may not necessarily continue on its current course, but there is some relevancy.

Of course, too many do not make predictions from a well-researched, data-driven approach. Those tend to exploit innocent people, using fear and greed to lure them in.

There is, however, a way to navigate the sea of predictions and form a discerning approach.

Credibility 

The difference between insightful predictions and misleading ones often boils down to the credibility of the source, the methodology used, and the intent behind the prediction. 

Professional and licensed forecasters, whether they are financial analysts, meteorologists, or medical professionals, typically have a background of rigorous education and experience in their field. They adhere to ethical standards set by professional bodies and are often held accountable for the accuracy and integrity of their predictions. 

These professionals use established, transparent methodologies and are generally open about the limitations of their predictions. 

Transparent Methodology

Reliable predictions are usually based on data and involve the use of sophisticated models that have been validated through peer review or have a proven track record. 

Professionals will often discuss the assumptions underlying their models, the data sources they use, and the potential margin of error in their predictions.

More simply, those who make predictions with genuine sincerity always reveal where and how they arrived at their current conclusion. They have no problem revealing what supports their prediction.

Skepticism is warranted when predictions lack a clear, logical basis, when they seem to be drawn from dubious or undisclosed sources, or when they promise certainty in inherently uncertain situations.

Anyone who cares about predictions will always admit that they may be wrong, but are able to explain why they feel they are not.

Intention

Look at the reason or motivation for someone asserting a prediction.

Professionals aiming to inform and educate typically present their predictions with an understanding of their potential impact, including the possible outcomes of decisions. 

They aim to empower decision-making with accurate, relevant information. 

In contrast, those preying on fear and greed often use predictions to elicit emotional responses, making grandiose claims or using fear-mongering tactics to manipulate behavior, such as urging immediate investment in a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity or predicting doom in the absence of purchasing a particular product.

The charlatan predictors often speak rapidly, use emotionally laced language and generally get upset at any challenges to their position.

Some Examples

I’m not going to point out any specific person or group, labeling them as right, wrong, or just wanting attention. However, I can share with you what I’ve noticed in deciphering better predictions from poor ones.

Reasonable predictions admit there is a possibility of being wrong, emphasizing that their information is pointing toward a particular outcome. There is also no hesitation in directly identifying the underlying source of their conviction. 

These people tend to be rogues, in that they do not adhere to one particular group over another, and rarely speak in absolutes.

There is also a cool logic in their voice, their words enunciated and easy to understand.

Unreasonable predictions, however, are usually emotionally driven, rarely backed by anything other than platitudes, generalities, and many times, conspiratorial activities. 

That’s not to say groups do not conspire, however, effectively proving a conspiracy is a different matter. Few ever do.

Their communication is many times fast, filled with repeated words of doom, and propelled by an “us vs them” mentality. 

While there is plenty to criticize when it comes to unreasonable predictions, that’s not to say there isn’t some truth. Of course, that’s where the appeal lies. They always say something that makes sense and COULD be happening. 

It’s the verifiable, irrefutable proof that’s lacking.

At least the reasonable predictions are willing to admit the possibility of error.

Predictions Tend To Be Clearer After 40

Predictions do not carry as much emotional impact after the age of 40.

I’ve written about this before here

When you turn over 40, wisdom starts to settle in, and for many, trends and movements begin to look familiar. 

It’s not that men and women who turn 40 suddenly develop a dormant insight. It’s more that predictions in general have less of an impact emotionally. 

We’ve just lived long enough to see the results of many predictions and how often they don’t come true. 

Most of us observed firsthand the inherent uncertainty and the frequent inaccuracies that accompany attempts to predict the future. This contributes to a deeper understanding that predictions, by their nature, are fraught with uncertainties and are often subject to change due to unforeseen variables.

This acknowledgment of life’s unpredictability and the limitations of forecasting leads to a more balanced emotional response to predictions. Younger individuals might experience anxiety or excitement about future forecasts. 

Those of us over 40 are likely to take these predictions with a grain of salt.

Emotional Detachment Of Outcomes Is The Answer

Not being tied to the precision of an outcome makes dealing with the future much easier.

There’s nothing wrong with reading and studying models, and listening to professionals profess some insight into the future. 

However, there’s no need to stress about it or allow fear and unhappiness to take over. 

In my previous article, How To Make Life Easier During Hard Times, you’ll find that nearly all bad events turn positive over a long enough timeline.

The same can be applied to predictions, whether they were promised to be positive but resulted in the negative, or a negative turning positive. 

Change is inevitable. That is for certain. How you respond to it is up to you.

Maintaining emotional attachment to a prediction’s outcome is what provides clarity. The ability to decipher accuracy, allow emotions to fade reduces the impact if things do not go the way we hoped.

Yes, I see the irony, as the idea is to use predictions to increase a desirable outcome, however, as stated above, life is mostly unpredictable. 

We may exist in a series of broad patterns, like the rising and setting sun, going to our jobs at the same time, following workout routines, and so forth.

However, these are generalities, and what we usually do not pay attention to are the slight variables with each event.

The sun rose to a partially cloudy sky that sprinkled rain. On the way to the office, 5 large trucks took up most of the lanes. Today’s workout routine was done on a bench with torn leather, requiring a towel to cover it.

These intricate matters are viewed as inconvenient, not detrimental. Thus, they are not consciously impactful per se.

However, were you to attempt to predict the details of every daily event, you’ll quickly find yourself wrong more often than not.

All of this is not about suppressing or denying emotions, but rather about developing the ability to manage your emotional responses, particularly in situations that involve uncertainty or high stakes. 

Ultimately, we all desire more happiness than not.

Try to remember that happiness doesn’t have to be dependent on things and events.

Until the next time, cheers!

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