The future is hidden by mist and fog.
Psychologists have recently been telling us that we're really bad at predicting how certain future outcomes of our actions will affect us and feel to us at the time they bear fruit. We ask ourselves, "If I do A, will that make me happy?" Or "If I do B, and C results, will that give me what I really want?" We try to imagine what a different or new or remote set of circumstances will feel like, and apparently, we almost always get it wrong.
There are two reasons we get it wrong. First, the future is uncertain. No one can really anticipate it, in all its details. Futurists have a history of howling failures. That's part of why they keep pointing us to the future - in the past, they haven't looked too good! Some things are predictable. Many are not, and they often interrupt our best planning and anticipating.
The second major cause of failure in anticipating the future consequences of our actions is that we're always extrapolating from the situation and mindset we're in, and that inevitably colors and distorts what we project the future to be. We view the future through present lenses. The problem is that hope and fear, desire and worry, along with ignorance and selective attention, can individually, or together, tint those lenses much more than we're aware.
This presents a problem. It seems to be the core of wisdom to think through the future consequences of our actions. But if our thinking, in so far as it projects future states, which imagining consequences always does, is inevitably flawed, then what are we supposed to do?
Fortunately, for understanding various possible futures, we're not forced to rely only on our own imaginations and projective abilities. We have the testimony of a great many people who have already lived through the consequences of every generally described action, or set of actions, imaginable. Although the details of life, society, and our options change continually, because of technology and politics, and for many other reasons, human nature has always been basically the same. That's why it's important to listen to people who have already experienced what we're thinking about doing. They can tell us how it actually felt to experience creating a small business, declaring bankruptcy, taking out a huge loan, getting married to someone very different from them, or very alike, having children, or separating from a friend or associate or family member who has changed in unfortunate ways.
Whatever situation you now contemplate, it's a specific instance of a general type that people have experienced before. That's why it's important to talk to wise people, and read the advice of wise people who have gone down this road before us. They can help tutor our otherwise unreliable imaginations, and guide us into the level of caution or action appropriate to our situation.
Wisdom is available. Use it well. That will help you in making all your most important decisions and will give you new lenses to help you see through the mist and fog up ahead.