Dreaming the future – part four

Lego 2Alongside the questionnaire FutureFest goers were asked to reflect on what they wanted to be before growing up. Through playing with Lego we explored why participants wanted to be what it was they wanted to be and the barriers and enablers they had encountered along the way.

83 participants took part in our ‘experiment’. Collectively 44 different ‘professions’ were mentioned. 13 participants mentioned several different things they wanted to be. The most popular ones were sports person (e.g. footballer, rugby player, and skier), pilot, doctor, dancer and writer. There were quite a few unexpected answers of what participants wanted to be including a circus dog trainer, dinosaur, weapon of mass disruption, problem solver and whale. A couple of participants wanted to emulate David Attenborough and openly stated that they wanted to be him when they were growing up.

Through the help of Lego we explored why participants wanted to be all those weird and wonderful ‘professions’. By far the most frequently mentioned motivation was a desire to explore and to experience a sense of wonder. Other prevalent reasons included: wanting to have fun and do something interesting; a thirst for knowledge and information; a yearning for being in control, knowing your limits and experiencing freedom; and craving a sense of being, purpose and pride.

The majority of the FutureFest crowd, 85% (Base= 196) as shown by the questionnaire results, seemed to be satisfied with the life they are living now. Over two thirds (69%, Base= 196), however, stated that the life they were living was quite different to the one they had imagined. In our discussions we found that younger participants seemed to be more optimistic about having been able to realise their childhood dream ‘profession’ than others.Lego 4

In our discussions, we delved a bit more deeply to unpack the barriers and enablers that had, either, inhibited or made their dreams possible.
The majority of the barriers stated related to ‘life getting in the way’. The most frequently mentioned barriers were social norms, and societal pressures and expectations. One’s own need to make money and personal context was also often mentioned as a key barrier for participants not fulfilling their dreams.

Another barrier which was frequently mentioned was the gap between theory/ideal and reality. Here participants often mentioned the current value system of how people are rewarded as a particular barrier which deterred them from doing certain professions (e.g. fire-fighter or waste collector). A lack of talent, skills and opportunities was also commonly mentioned as an inhibiting factor.

When discussing enablers three frequently mentioned bundles of factors stand out. An individual’s own stubbornness, determination, positive thinking and sense of purpose were often quoted as key enabling factors. Knowledge and education were also recurrent when discussing empowering factors as was one’s own family providing choice, drive and support.

Now that we have a better understanding of our dreams and the barriers and enablers encountered in pursuing these dreams, are we better equipped to design and deliver a future economy that is more able to turn our dreams into reality?

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