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Why not everyone naturally thinks future and how to find your orientation to time

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

Right now people can be very focused on the threshold of a new year. Leaders, teams, families etc. However I have come to learn working with people over the years that not everyone naturally thinks future.

A framework for understanding how various personalities make sense of their world, is the Enneagram. In Enneagram wisdom, each triad relates to time in a specific way. ONES, TWOS, and SIXES orient to present time. THREES, SEVENS, and EIGHTS orient to future time. FOURS, FIVES, and NINES orient to the past

Time orientation is where we focus most of our thoughts and attention. We have access to all three orientations, so if you’re a Past Oriented person, consciously choosing to experience the present moment or planning for future goals would be healthy, holistic practices to engage in. If you’re a Future Oriented human, then reflect on the past; what went well or wrong, and what you can learn from those encounters, as well as trying to be present in each moment. If you’re Present Oriented, then past and future thinking will help you move out of getting lost in the moment. The key is always balance, accepting and loving how our Type has helped us survive, then inviting in new experiences s as we work toward integration.

Enneagram Paths writes this description of each:

Past Time Orientation

Type Four:

Four’s emotions and thoughts center most often on what has already happened, what they regret, or an ideal experience they romanticize.

Type Five:

Five’s thoughts center most often on analyzing what has already happened, making sense of previous experiences and feelings, and coming up with logical solutions to earlier problems.

Type Nine:

Nines ruminate about how their lives were both positive and negative in the past, feeling stuck and unable to alter negative patterns or improve the good ones.

Present Time Orientation

Type One:

One’s act in either a flurry of movement or methodical steps, to correct and perfect moment-by-moment the things that come to their attention.

Type Two:

Type Two’s emotions and thoughts center often on what someone else needs, seeking to fulfill it immediately, without regard to past experiences or future consequences.

Type Six:

Sixes immerse themselves in whatever current situation is triggering the Type’s “danger” warning system.

Future Time Orientation

Type Three:

Threes are planning how to efficiently complete the next task and thinking about ways to successfully achieve their goals.

Type Seven:

Sevens can be constantly in motion, thinking about what next fun thing to do and moving toward an ever-evolving horizon.

Type Eight:

Eights seek to pave the way toward their goals by planning exactly how to power past any and all obstacles.

Here is an example of a 'Type Five' who did not understand his orientation to the past

As a fellow 5 it also took me a while to see the past focus of my Type. In listening to some podcasts on Time Orientation I realized that I thought I was future because I was always thinking about projects and what I wanted to do (but not doing much of them!) This is suppressed Doing instead of Future Time Orientation and when I was able to understand that, I was then able to see that much of what I thought was future thinking was actually processing past projects (how I did them, how they felt, how I succeeded or failed). It was mostly rooted in the past. You might be a really balanced 5 and have more access to future. Totally possible! And congrats on that! I’m really working to be there myself. But all 5’s do have a firstly dominant Past Orientation.

My example of being a Type Nine and being past oriented is similar. I am a Type Nine but my subtype (Social Nine .. more about subtypes here) is a counter type so I do not always relate to the general descriptions we find of our types.

So when I am in a situation where I can feel peace is being disrupted, either my own or the groups, then my family tells me my eyes glaze over and I 'check out'.. in french it is called Da La Lune ('she is on the moon'). I know I do this but I did not think I go into the past in that moment. Until I have become much more self aware. Now I notice what I do is when I am checked out, I am saying to myself 'this is not how I imagined my life would be... '

Usually about a table full of kids fighting right?? And so it makes sense I have oriented myself in the past as a way of coping, only it makes the situation even more of a default that is damaging. So my practice now is to 'show up/wake up' and be present. I shift my body language, I lean in, and I say to myself.. 'your presence at this table matters more now than ever'.

See how you have to think deeper about these time orientations. But they are brilliant to navigate what Vision Exercises you may need.

So go ahead.

Do not wait another moment to practice something that your future self will thank you for.

In She Lives Bold we address the various ways different women posture themselves towards future promise. Then in the free FB group I will put more resources to help you. And in the Live Bold Coaching we will engage in unique Visioneering exercises to help you move forward into your future. Check out the amazing deals for Live Bold Coaching and book release etc here .

The visioneering resources are not just for a new year they are simple tools to help with visioneering anything .. a new season, a new job, new relationship..

So much love to you


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