Future Change

Leading psychologist Dan Gilbert tells us that we humans consistently underestimate how much we’re going to change.

At every age, from 18 to 68 in our data set, people vastly underestimated how much change they would experience over the next 10 years. We call this the “end of history” illusion. To give you an idea of the magnitude of this effect, you can connect these two lines, and what you see here is that 18-year-olds anticipate changing only as much as 50-year-olds actually do.

In other words, you life will change more in the next year/five years/decade than you think it will.

It also means our students will change more over the school year than they expect. Over the course of their high school career, change will be profound and they won’t see it coming. Same for college careers

It’s our job, as educators, then, too understand, anticipate, and guide this change. We are simultaneously underestimating our own change, but we can perhaps more accurately predict how much our students will change, and guide them in positive changes.

Sometimes it’s too easy to see our students as already crystallized in their current emotional and physical form. If we truly accept how much they are changing, inside and out, we can better support them, forgive their current limitations, and help them to find the bridges to their future selves.

We are all changing, more than we think. Accept this fact, and then help others along the way.