Home » Season 1 » Can you predict the future? Let’s do some future thought experiments!

Can you predict the future? Let’s do some future thought experiments!

If someone had told you, 10 years ago, that you would be where you are today, would you have believed them?

Now, imagine yourself 10 years from now.  What do you think your life will be like?
In today’s episode, we’re going to do some future thought experiments, and let’s see if we are able to predict the future!

Homework: Try to imagine a day in the future. It could be 5 years from now or10 years from now. What is your life like? Where do you live? Who do you live with? What is a typical day in your life like? How do you feel? Who do you spend time with? What is important to you? What do you look like? Visualize this, feel this, and over the next few years, pay attention and see if this visualization actually happens.



Hello, hello. Hey, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Improve Your English, Improve Your Life. My name is Foster, and as always, I am here with


Jackie! Hi, guys. Hope you guys are doing well. How are you, Foster?


I’m doing well. I am excited about recording this episode because this is one of those episodes where we don’t really know what we’re doing and we’re just going to do it. And those are normally the good ones.


Yes, I actually – I feel like that’s how all the episodes are.


Yeah, it’s a common theme in the show.


Let’s just talk and see what happens.


In a recent episode, we talked about gratitude. And something I’m very grateful for – this is totally unrelated to today’s episode, but it’s just realizing that, really, no one k nows what they’re doing, ever. Like, my brother just had a baby. He’s like, “I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m figuring it out”, and I’m grateful for that.


I agree. Because if we thought that everyone knew what they were doing and we were the only ones who didn’t, we’d feel pretty bad about that. But we’re all just figuring it out.


Yeah. Anyways; okay, Jackie, today I want to talk to you about time travel.


Ooh, exciting. Sounds kind of sci-fi.


Opinions? Thoughts?




No, more specifically mental time travel. And really, I want to talk to you about the future. So I just finished a book called “Imaginable” by a lady named Jane McGonigal, if I’m not mistaken. And she is a futurist, which is my old job. It’s… a futurist is just a fancy title for someone that, I don’t know, I guess, studies and predicts the future. And she’s also a game designer.


Like video games?


Video games and, like, mass social simulations.


Huh. Interesting, I’ll have to read that book.


Yeah, I won’t give you too many spoilers. But essentially they predicted the pandemic in, like, 2008 without missing a beat. It’s crazy.

without missing a beat = literalmente “sem perder uma batida (de ritmo)”; fazer ou falar algo sem mostrar qualquer incerteza, quando isto seria surpreendente.
– Joe was so happy about his new baby. “Look at him, he looks just like me!” His friend Mark, without missing a beat, said: “Don’t worry, the important thing is that he’s healthy!”


Yeah. Oh, that’s interesting. I’ll definitely have to read that book. I have, like, a list of books on my Kindle that I need to read – and I hate reading, like, in a hurry to get the book over with, but sometimes I’m like, “Oh, I just want to see what happens next”. But it’s good to read a book and just take your time with it and really, like, sit with it and reflect on it. I love doing that as well.

to get something over with = expressão idiomática que significa algo como “acabar logo com algo”
– I know I need new shoes, but I hate shopping. Let’s just get this over with and go home.


Yeah, to be honest, I listened to this book.




Yeah, but I did have to go back and listen to some parts again because there are some really interesting, kind of, thought experiments.


And it’s called “imaginable”? Or “the imaginable”? Okay.

imaginable = imaginável
– You can find almost anything imaginable on the internet nowadays.


And kind of the core thesis of the book is that, like, future thinking, being able to think about the future, is enormously beneficial. And most of us do not do it because either we’re scared about the future or we don’t really know how. Or it’s kind of this vague thing that will happen in the future. And she gives a lot of different kinds of approaches and tactics to kind of give you a better idea of how to do that.


Okay. Yeah, but I do see there is a lot of resistance, I think, to… to change things. You know, if we look at, like, the past, a lot of us feel guilty in some ways. If we don’t maintain all the same traditions and do everything the exact same way that they have been done for many, many years, I think there’s a fear of, like, losing some of that along the way. And then there’s also a fear of the unknown, of the future. Like, what if this is wrong? What if it changes humanity in a way that it shouldn’t? And all that unknown, I think, creates a lot of fear in people.

unknown = desconhecido
– This is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It’s a memorial to all the soldiers whose identities were lost and their bodies never identified.


Totally. Yeah, I think a lot of my anxiety just comes from fear of the unknown, uncertainty. So. Jackie, can I start with a kind of difficult question?




When does the future start for you?


Well, that is a good question.


It’s not a trick question.

a trick question = uma pergunta “pegadinha”
– If someone asks you what salary you want during a job interview, this may be a trick question. Just say something like “what is normal for my position”.


Yeah. I mean, I guess the future could be a second from now. A minute from now?


Yeah. So to give you –


Or it could be –


– context –


– 20 years from now.


– of the way she framed it in this book, she said – this is, like, the first question she always asks when she’s teaching courses about the future. So we’re defining the future as a time that is significantly more, dramatically different from the present. So, for different people, the answer is going to be very different. So, for example, if you ask – perhaps if you ask your children, like, “When will your life be super different than… than it is now”, it’s probably, like, “When I go to college” or “When I go to high school” or something like that.


Right. Yeah. Our notion of time changes a lot as we get older. Now, when you’re younger, a week feels like a year and then it seems like the older we get, the faster the time goes by. And there aren’t, like, these defined…. It’s not as, like, planned out, I guess, as it is when you’re younger; you know, with the school years and all the steps, it’s like; once you finish college, it’s more gray. “What happens next?”


There’s no roadmap anymore.

roadmap = literalmente, “mapa de estrada”, aqui significa uma “linha do tempo, uma ordem certa para as coisas acontecerem”
– We’ve prepared a roadmap for our company. Our plan is to have it grow at least 10% by next year.


Right. But that’s interesting.


Okay, Jackie, I know I’m just going to hit you with a lot of personal questions. Are you comfortable sharing your age on the show?


Yes. Yes, I am 42.


You don’t look it and you have a young soul.


Well, thank you! Thanks, Foster!


Okay. So you are ten years my elder.

someone is x years my elder = alguém é x anos mais velha que eu
– My coworker is much younger than me. I am twelve years her elder.


Yes. Thanks, Foster!


No, this is perfect. So, the… in the book she talks about ten years is pretty much like a perfect time to… “Ten years ago, things were dramatically different. Ten years from now, they will be way different than they are”. So can you take us back –




– ten years when you were 32?


Yeah. And what’s interesting, Foster, is I actually have felt, like, that my life, like, the decades – specifically starting from, like, 21, 31, 41 or maybe 20, 30, 40, there have been, like, crazy life changes in each decade from the time starting from the time that I turned 20. But…


Take me through them.


Yeah, well, I guess 20… When I was 20, I went to Spain and I studied abroad in Spain. I turned 21 when I was over there and that was a… a big life changing event because it was the first time I had ever been to Europe and experienced a whole new culture and tried learning a new language, which was like the stepping stone to the rest of my life, becoming more interested in spending time abroad and language learning. And it ended up becoming my entire career, which is cool!


I could say the exact same thing about my life. Turned 21 – insane and kind of… a milestone of…that just changed the entire trajectory of my life.


Right. Right. And, and I guess for me, ten years later… Well, I, I went to Brazil when I was 29. I had my son when I was 30. So I guess ten years ago at 32, I was living in Brazil. I had a two-year-old. We were in the beginning stages of our school, but we were struggling financially, big time, which was good. It was… it was good that we went through that for sure. And it was the… the push that we needed in order to try things. Because when things are really comfortable, it’s hard to leave that comfort zone. I’m very grateful to when things are not so comfortable. It gives us that push we need to… to try different things. But yeah, I was just in a completely different, like, living situation. Obviously, I was living in Brazil. We were having a hard time making ends meet, but we were very excited about just this new endeavor of the school. But with that came a lot of insecurity because I was doing something that I had never done before. And just being young, I guess, and working with people that were much older than me, having employees that were much older than me was challenging at times. Being a new mom as well, not knowing what I was doing. Just like you mentioned at the beginning of the video, like – or the beginning of the podcast, I should say, none of us know what we’re doing ever. You know, we just are basically doing the best we can with the knowledge we have and the situation that we’re in and just taking it one step at a time. So, yeah, it was… I was in a… I was a completely different person. I had no channel. I had… there was no ask Jackie ten years ago.

big time = expressão informal geralmente usado com alguma situação para dar ênfase, algo como “”muito, mas muito mesmo”
– This is going to fun, big time!

to make ends meet = expressão idiomática que significa algo como “conseguir cumprir as obrigações financeiras básicas; comprar comida e pagar as contas”
– Some people have to get two, or even three jobs, just to make ends meet.


So that’s what I’m, I’m thinking is… imagine telling your 21-year-old self, like, “Hey, ten years from now you’re going to be living in Brazil, starting a school, you’re going to be a mother”. You’d be, like, “Okay, you’re out of your mind.” And then if you told your 31-year-old self, “Hey, you’re going to be a YouTube star. Like, with financial security living in the U.S.”, I think you would say, “What’s Youtube?”

to be out of your/his/her/my/etc. = estar completamente louco, totalmente sem juízo
– You think I want to date that guy? You must be out of your mind!


Right! And, literally, that would have been my answer. Like, “What? What’s YouTube? What’s social media?” I don’t think any of that stuff even… Well, I know YouTube was around, but I never used it. And I don’t think… ten years ago we didn’t even have… well, we had Facebook. But I don’t know, we probably had, like, the beginnings of Instagram.


So, when I think back, ten years ago. I was 22. I’d just… I’d left Spain. I was in Guatemala working as an intern for a nonprofit. Literally, the idea of Brazil and Portuguese… Like, I could have told you that, like, “Yeah, Brazil is a country in South America, and it’s… it’s big, and I think they speak Portuguese”. That’s it. And now it’s, like, the center of my universe.


Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. It is pretty crazy to think, like, how much, how quickly things can change in a short period of time, for sure.


So, with that said, ten years from now, do you have… I don’t know. Can you envision, like, what would a normal day look like ten years from now?


Oh, boy. Well, ten years from now, I will have a 21-year-old and a 17-year-old, so…


Good luck with that!


So the kids will be out of the house, most likely. Maybe Leo will be in his final year of high school. Gabriel will be doing who knows what with his life.


Probably going to Spain or something.


Maybe. Hopefully. I don’t know. Whatever. It’s… it’s interesting. I think, like, I know with my husband, for example, his mom, like, really wanted him and his brothers to study abroad and to go away and do the things that she couldn’t do. And they didn’t want to. None of them wanted to. And it’s kind of ironic that he ended up meeting me after resisting it for so long. And now he’s here.


It’s crazy how those things work, but maybe your kid will be traveling to Spain and the metaverse. We don’t know.


That’s right!


That’s a possibility.


That’s true. Oh, it’s very true. Yeah. And I honestly… I think with the Internet, it just seems like things change so much faster than they did before. It’s just, the whole world changed. Like, my life, my childhood, you know, pre-Internet, it seems like it was, like, the dinosaur age. And I talk to the kids about it; like, we would go to the library and use the card catalog and you’d look up information in an encyclopedia. There was no Alexa and Google and all these things that you could just find instant answers to everything. But yeah, that’s, like, what’s… I don’t know, ten years. It could… there could be a huge change or it could be kind of subtle changes. What I’ve noticed, like, I guess, in the past 20 years or even earlier than that, we’ve been on, like, this fast track towards change. And I guess, especially in the last 20 years, like, with college and jobs and businesses and moving to different countries and getting married and having babies and all these, like, big, big things that now I’m in, I’m, I’m at a bit of a, like, a coasting stage, I would say, which is nice and comfortable, but it’s also kind of weird in a lot of ways. It’s kind of like, “Well, now what?” You know, like, “I’ve checked off all the boxes of things that I, I wanted to do in my life”. And of course there’s a lot more, but I don’t really know. I guess I don’t have that same push.

card catalog = um “catálago de cartões” que era bem comum ter em bibliotecas americanas. Esses catálagos continham informações sobre todos os livros existentes naquela biblioteca, e eram usados para facilitar encontrar uma obra específica
– Nowadays, computers have replaced card catalogs in libraries in the U.S.

to coast = expressão informal que significa algo como “progredir sem dificuldades ou esforço”
– I had a hard time in school, but my older sister seemed to just coast.

stage = estágio, fase
– Children are very curious at this stage.


I guess “start a podcast”?


Yes, there you go. Do some… And, and I don’t… And I think, before, it was I would search to do something kind of drastic, whereas now I’m, like, “I don’t necessarily need to do anything drastic”, but I don’t know exactly what I should do and I don’t want to get too comfortable. I think that’s what scares me, just being a little bit stuck in the comfort zone.


It is very difficult to off the top of your head imagine what your life will be like in ten years. But I’m very curious to your perspective as a mother. Are you optimistic about your children’s future, kind of like the world at large? Or are you kind of like, “Oh, my goodness!”


Well, I guess I would say I’m probably more optimistic than worried.


You strike me as an optimist.


Thanks. I try to be. Sometimes it…


Depends on the day.


Sometimes it’s not as easy as… Depends on the day. Yes, but I do think… I don’t know what the future holds exactly. But I do see, especially regarding education. If I were to be able to predict the future, I think there’s going to be some major changes as far as, like, university and college degrees. And now we have easy access to education, whereas in the past we didn’t, and that’s what made it so expensive. And if you want a job, you have to go to college. And now I don’t think it’s as necessary as it used to be. So I don’t know. I want my kids to… to be motivated and ambitious and to follow their dreams and to be self-sufficient and all that. But it is kind of challenging as well to… because you want to protect them and keep them safe from things at the same time. Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I think it’s really for them to decide. And, and I just want to kind of be that, I guess, support and a little bit of a push for them to do things. I don’t wish an easy life for anybody because I don’t think it’s good to have everything easy. There’s no growth that comes of that. But I also don’t want them to have, like, extreme difficulties because that’s… that’s hard, too. But I guess I just wish for them the right amount of challenge that will show them that they’re capable of far more than they ever imagined and that they can really achieve anything that they… they want to achieve in life and happiness and health and all that good stuff, too.


Absolutely beautiful.


I don’t know what form it will come in, though.


Jackie, you said two things that I thought were just so delightful. First, you said it’s really up to them to decide, which is totally true. Yeah, the future is in their hands, quite literally. And also to… You really want them to have challenges, but to be able to realize that they are capable of achieving more than they ever dreamed of. And that’s kind of what I have left with this entire thought experiment and the entire idea of “Improve your English, Improve your Life”. Like ten years ago, I did not know what Portuguese was. So if you think about, like, huge crazy achievements on a ten-year timeline, they seem quite achievable.




So maybe dream big?




Or something like that.


Yeah. Yeah. And, and I think, if there are difficulties or tough times, I truly believe that it’s to… to teach you something. It’s for us to learn, for us to grow, for us to evolve. And we shouldn’t resist the difficulties. We shouldn’t just wish for everything to be easy and painless. It’s kind of… embrace the lessons, and the biggest lessons are usually the hardest ones. But once we just… it’s like that perspective shift, it’s like, “Okay, that was brutal!” or “I’m going through a hard time right now, but what’s the lesson here? What do I need to learn?” And then you kind of just open yourself up more to learn from it and, and grow from it rather than resist it and feel sorry for yourself and… and shrink down. But yeah, I don’t know what the future holds. And I guess a part of me, I think my biggest fear would be looking back, you know, ten years from now, looking back and feeling like I didn’t do anything, I didn’t change, I didn’t grow, nothing really happened. I’d rather… Yeah, it’s true. Who knows? Who knows? But I think it’s more… I think my biggest regret would be not taking the risks because I was too comfortable or too afraid or not getting out of my comfort zone enough to grow in the way that I should be.

to feel sorry for someone = sentir pena de alguém
– “Come on, do you still feel anything for me?” “I feel sorry for you.”


Jackie, something that you just radiate all the time, but especially I’m hearing you say it in this episode is you are just such a growth-oriented… Like, your mindset is very growth-centered.




Yeah. I’m curious if you have any examples of those challenging times where you really experienced a lot of growth or… I don’t know, It’s kind of difficult to think of off the top of your head.




Or just advice on how to adapt that mindset a little more.


Well, I guess I’ll give you an example with business, for example, because I think that’s kind of a tangible example When you – I mean, any job you have, even if you work for somebody else, but especially if you decide to start your own business, there’s a lot of problems. You know, you’re learning everything as you go. You’re kind of creating your own path. You’re not following somebody else’s path that’s been laid out for you. So it is a little bit more challenging. And I know for me, for example, there were times we had issues with the teachers that were working at our school and there was one specific situation in which we had a teacher working with us for a number of years and we became very close to the teachers that worked with us. They were like friends. And this one teacher, after a while he told us that he was going to leave and that was okay. You know, “Best of luck, success. Thanks for doing a great job.” It was… it was never, like, a bad moment when someone decided, like, “That chapter has closed, they’re on to a new path”. But what we did find out is that he had reached out to several of the students that he had been teaching and… and asked them if they wanted to continue having lessons with him, like, privately, outside of the school.


Oldest trick in the book: poaching students.

to poach someone/something = tomar algo ou alguém que “pertence” a outra pessoa, principalmente de maneira desonesta ou injusta
– That company has been trying to poach contracts from us for a long time! We need to do something!


I know. Yeah. And part of me…feel – like I get it; like, it’s… it is understandable why he may think, like, “That’s okay; it’s business, that’s what happens”. You know, some people can justify it however they want. At first we took it very personally. Like, “How? How could you do that to us? Like, we helped you in so many situations!” And we just felt a little bit backstabbed and we did have a conversation, whatever. He ended up leaving and it wasn’t as nice of a departure as I wanted it to be, but from that I knew…. I’m, like, “We need to… to make a change so that this doesn’t happen again”. And then because of that lesson, we, we sat down with all the teachers and we just explained to them. We made it very clear, we wrote it out. Everyone signed a contract; “Like, if you leave the school, you cannot contact our students and offer to teach them privately for this number of… of months or years”. I don’t remember what the exact time period was, but we just made it very clear to them: “Like, you can get any students you want outside of the school, but you can’t, like, steal our… our clients” type of thing.

to be backstabbed = algo como “ser traído por alguém em que se confiava”, “ter a faca enfiada nas costas”
– John was devastated; he was backstabbed by his best friend at work, and now he’s lost his job.


And everyone understood, it was made very clear, and then that problem never happened again. But I think when things happen, I, I’ve learned the hard way that if I don’t try to look for the lesson in this, I’m going to deal with it again and again and again and again until I try to figure out, like, “Okay, what do I need to learn here? What change do I need to make?” I can’t change what other people do, but I can change what I do so that I’m not getting hit with the same problem repeatedly. And I think that can happen, you know, with relationships, with children, with anything in life. You know, we have to look at our own involvement in the situation. It’s not just problems happen to us. We are involved in the problems as well in some way or another, and just try to figure out what the solution would be.


I really like that example.


Yeah, I think…


No, that is solutions-oriented; like the example that comes to mind for me when you were telling that story is it kind of works in cycles in business or life or relationships. Like, in really challenging moments; like when something breaks, like when I really injured my back for the first time. That was the wake-up call of, like, “Oh, I have a body, it seems. Apparently I need to take care of it”. And that’s, like, when I started developing, like, a daily fitness routine. And it’s kind of… I think that’s what growth is all about. Like, you hit these really difficult moments, you learn from them, and then you start doing something differently.

a wake-up call = “uma chamada para acordar”, expressão informal que significa algo como “um ‘acorda pra vida’”
– Peter thought he was just really good at math, until he moved to a new school with very high-level mathematics. That was a big wake-up call for him that he wasn’t a natural genius and needed to study.


Yeah. And then you say, “Thank you, God, thank you, universe. Thank you, Whatever you believe”.


Thank you, Jackie and Foster!.


Thank you for teaching me this lesson. Yes. It’s true. And we do learn. I learn so much from other people. Like, when other people tell stories about their own experiences. There’s so much that I relate to and I’m like, “Yes!” Or the way they handled it, I really admired. And it kind of inspires me to handle things that way, too. So it’s just… Just look… Look for the solution rather than focusing on the problem.


Essentially, the goal of this podcast, when Jackie approached me for the first time. It was like, “Hey, do you want to tell stories about our lives? Maybe other people will find it helpful”.


Right? And if not, that’s okay. We won’t take any offense to it.


We will definitely learn from it.


Right. We’re just doing it, you know, and learning along the way and hopefully getting better as we go. And, and that’s really all we… if we’re doing that, we’re good. We’re good. That’s it, doesn’t need to be perfect.


Thank you, Jackie. Thank you for humoring me about the future. And I don’t know, would you like to give our students homework or would you prefer me to do it?

to humor someone = agir de acordo com a vontade de alguém para agradar a pessoa
– I know that you’re really tired right now, but I need to tell you about this funny story I heard. Can you humor me?


Do you have something in particular that you think would be good?


I mean, the easy thought experiment of really trying to imagine, like, a day in the future, like even putting something on your calendar? Like, ten years in the future. You can easily do that in, like, your Google calendar. Maybe something ridiculous. That’s… that’s an interesting one. Yeah, I don’t know. You got anything to add?


Yeah, I think just even creating some type of visualization of, like, who you hope to be and want to be, what your daily life will be like, what you’ll be eating and who you’ll be hanging out with and where you’ll be living. You kind of guess, keep that fresh in mind. I do think that helps. Like, if we have a visualization of, like, where we want to be, it’s easier to get there than if we’re just kind of going through life aimlessly.

aimlessly = advérbio que expressa “sem rumo”
– He walked around aimlessly after work, just trying to think about what to do.


Precisely. I totally forgot until the very end of the episode that that’s why this topic came up, because you mentioned visualization a lot and the entire, like future-thinking process is essentially just an exercise in visualizing what the future could hold.


Yeah, it’s kind of fun to do, too.


Okay, Jackie, I really appreciate it. I think…


Thanks, Foster.


…I’m about to get kicked out of this recording studio, so we need to go.

to get kicked out = expressão informal que significa “ser expulso” (literalmente “ser chutado para fora”)
– That guy was such an awful student that he almost got kicked out of school last semester.


Uh-oh, uh-oh! All right. This was fun, though. I loved this. Thanks for… Thanks for thinking of this idea.


My pleasure. And talk to you in the next episode.


All right. Sounds good. Bye.

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