Past thinking gathers as much data as possible and is concerned with accuracy and truth. It refuses to take anything at face value or for granted; it needs to be certain and is continuously engaged in evaluating, validating, researching, weighing pros and cons, and judging credibility. Refusing to trust that “everything will work out,” it attempts to reduce the risk of negative outcomes. Above all it is reflective.
Present thinking seeks homeostasis and some measure of control over unfolding events. It monitors the surrounding world, assesses any changes in the environment, values stability, productivity, harmony, and closure and respects existing rules and the status quo. It will do everything it can to follow through and to honor commitments. It abhors chaos and confusion, and is driven to establish balance and order, create structure, and get things done. It is primarily practical.
Future thinking is open to possibilities, seeks out new opportunities and intuits what the future might bring. It is our source of vision, and it often promotes those visions with enthusiasm and energy, inventing new strategies and tactics along the way, and flying by the seat of its pants. It pushes the limits of what is known and understood. It is comfortable with change and ambiguity; it chafes when confined within a rigid structure. It needs deadlines for generating the motivation to bring something to completion. It is essentially imaginative.