The Third Transition: Foresight

How do you know if you are moving from chapter 3 to chapter 4?

Your story shortens.

Foresight is the ability to accurately anticipate the likely outcome to a given choice. As the word itself implies, you are now able to see the future before it happens.

How does the development of foresight shorten your story?

When you are aware of what path you’re on and you can see your responsibility in it, you spend much less time explaining, justifying, and rationalizing your choices.

You have enough awareness and responsibility to see into the likely future and predict what will happen if you stand next to the chips at the office party, or have a third beer at the baseball game, or schedule a sixth training session this week.

With foresight, you spend much less time explaining how somebody forced you to eat ten sugar cookies at the office holiday party. You spend much less time pretending you’re surprised that you actually ate the ice cream you bought on the way home from a disastrous date.

Foresight confronts you boldly, asking:

Now that you know where that path is heading, do you plan to stay on it?*


It is here that many clients face their toughest challenge: developing discipline.

If foresight is the ability to predict the path’s destination, discipline is the ability to act on that information in the present.

Re-read Chapter IV in the poem: “I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.”

In order to walk around the hole, you are going to need the skill of discipline.  The road from “knowing better” to “doing better” is the road of discipline: that is, requiring yourself to regularly engage in specific actions that feel uncomfortable, strange, and not at all like ‘you’.**


I invite you to re-read Nelson’s poem, consider the role of foresight in your own life, and explore the following:

If I believe I “know better”, why don’t I act on what I know?

What do I think, say, feel, and do that contributes to me falling in this hole? Am I willing to consider changing these?***


*You may develop foresight, become overwhelmed with the prospect of acting differently, and then attempt to kill off your foresight. Typically, this is done by numbing your awareness and reverting to blaming others for being in the hole.

**Applying discipline to foresight will, invariably, turn you into a new person. This is exactly why many of us strongly resist changing our habits: we’re ambivalent about giving up who we are to become someone else.

**Or do you say, “That’s the way I am—I’ve always been X and I don’t want to explore change.” That’s a valid choice, so long as you’re prepared to fall in this same hole again.