In a world where the future holds endless possibilities, how do you envision your tomorrow?

In a world where the future holds endless possibilities, how do you envision your tomorrow?

Dr. Karoline Strauss, Professor of Management at ESSEC Business School and Professor of the ESSEC Sports Chair, has dedicated 15 years to studying how people think about their future. In her recent talk at TEDxESSECAsiaPacific, held at ESSEC’s Asia-Pacific campus in Singapore, she dives into the question: What if there’s a way to think about your future career that doesn’t involve answering the dreaded question: “Where do you see yourself in five years?” 

“Future selves” are how we imagine ourselves in the future - with a twist. Instead of just thinking about what job or degree you’d like to pursue, it involves considering who you want to be: your values, your preferences, your professional role models, your aspirations, the environment you’re in, how you’re seen by others… and then thinking about how compatible these aspirations are with one another. Do they align - or are they in conflict? This means looking at your future self as an interconnected network of aspirations.


Here's how your future self network could look.

If you are wondering what your future self network looks like and how your goals and hopes for the future fit together, you can try out the tool Dr. Strauss and her colleagues have developed. This tool, available here, guides you through a series of questions about your ideas and preferences for your future self and then provides you with personalised feedback and a visualization of your future self network. Dr. Strauss received the CY Alliance Prize for the Dissemination of Scientific Culture for her work on this tool in 2022, and also presented it at the first ESSEC Science & Society Conference in 2023. The TEDx talk is the latest in her efforts to share her research with the greater public. 

This TEDx talk shifts your perspective on future planning. It challenges the traditional narrative of having a singular goal and instead encourages you to explore a multifaceted future where varied aspirations can coexist and reinforce each other. Whether you're a student stepping into the threshold of your career or a seasoned professional pondering your next steps, this talk offers valuable insights into how you can weave your personal aspirations into a coherent and fulfilling future. 


Interested in learning more about your future self? Test out the tool at

Further reading

Strauss, K., Mell, J., Anseel, F., & Loermans, A. (2021). Synergy and conflict in visions of the future: A network-based approach to future work selves. In Academy of Management Proceedings (Vol. 2021, No. 1, p. 10181). Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510: Academy of Management.


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