How to Plan for the Unplannable

best life planning time Aug 18, 2020

We live in an uncertain world right now - no one really knows what will happen tomorrow, next week, next month. But really, hasn’t that always been true? Life is unpredictable. A year ago, would you have predicted where you are today? Do you believe the same things? Do you have the same goals, the same problems? Do you spend your time with the same people?

Most business strategists and self-help gurus promote the idea of big goals, strategic plans, and long-term thinking. The thing is, those plans and goals aren’t going to help you when things change drastically and you have to adjust quickly. Instead of planning for a scenario that might be irrelevant in six months (or even tomorrow), do these four things so you can survive, and maybe even thrive in an uncertain world.

Know your baseline

Whether it is your company or your life, take a moment to get clear on where you are now, who you are, and what you value. What are your strengths and weaknesses? This is your starting place around which everything should be organized, at least for now. Don’t get stuck on letting these things define you. The person or business you are today most likely won’t be who you are next year. Relevancy is iterative.   

Develop a flexible framework

How do you decide what you’re going to focus on next? What you’re going to eat for dinner? Where you’re going to spend your next vacation? Planning out possible future scenarios in detail is a waste of your time because most of those plans will never happen. If they do happen, the plan you made will be stale once you get there and you’ll have to re-do it anyways. Create flexible systems with criteria you can use to help you plan your work and life instead of long-terms plans. Then you can use that criteria to be nimble about your decisions and save your time for the actual work. 

Look back to look forward

Goals and plans are only as good as the systems you’ve built to revisit them and adjust accordingly. The person making that 5-year plan today is not the same person who is going to be living that plan in 5 years. The company you’ve created will not be the same company. Create a system for checking in on your structures regularly. Get a new baseline and update that framework so that it is always reflective of your circumstances and context at the time.   

Build in redundancy  

Flying by the seat of your pants is great, until it isn’t. This year has re-taught us lessons that our grandparents have always known about being prepared for disaster. What would happen if you lost your job? If your business lost its biggest client? Your best employee? Building in redundancy wherever you can will serve you in the long run. This can take some investment up front, so use your tools above to identify crucial areas to focus on first.

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