Make Plans During Uncertain Times: A Guest Post by Nancy J. Miller
We live in uncertain times. Actually, we live with the myth of certainty until things change. Things are never actually certain, but it’s easy to live like they are.
When major disruptions happen, we are surprised by a sense of feeling out of control––a control we never really had. We can be certain that there will be uncertainty and we can plan for it.
As we plan for uncertainty, we can be more flexible in our business practices and services realizing we will not be on an ever forward climb in our business success curve. We will find spurts of ups and downs. If we have enough ups and plan for the downs, we can find success in our business endeavors.
Making plans in uncertain times gives us a positive picture of the future.
We live that future until it changes. For example, I was looking forward to taking a trip across the United States to visit my family in April. I got my plane ticket, and my daughter, the kids, and I were planning to go to Gettysburg and Philadelphia.
I started reading the book Killer Angels again to get in the spirit of the war for independence before going to Gettysburg. Since the family is moving in June, it would be my last trip to the east coast to visit historic sites.
Travel plans changed. I wouldn’t be flying, which left me a blank picture in my future. It was like a color picture changed to a negative. I felt uncertain about our next book signing events. It felt like the color faded to black and white.
With no plans for the future, my motivation was slowly diminishing as I worked from home on my coaching and writing business. I decided it was time to make travel plans and prepare for book events. As I got excited about my plans, a wave of disappointment passed over me. Maybe none of this will happen.
Plans are never certain, I realized.
There is always something that could happen to change future plans. The difference is that we have a name for our current uncertainty. It is a pandemic; a coronavirus. We’ve had different strains of the virus in the past, but it did not affect everyone in every part of their lives and businesses as this one has.
We hear dire predictions on the news every day. Even when ignoring the news and doing research on the internet or relaxing with a show on television, there it is––uncertainty––the certainty that we don’t know what we can do a month from now. We feel a new uncertainty even though we never could predict the future. In the past, we felt like we could.
We can easily feel overwhelmed with opposing information when making decisions in uncertain times. Planning for the future involves quickly sifting through an abundance of information. As HB Gelatt says, “Decision-making is the process of arranging and rearranging information into a choice or action.”
In the example of my trip, I decided to go ahead and make some flexible plans, despite known uncertainty, I canceled my ticket and booked a new flight for the fall on an airline that allows changes without penalty. Will I fly in the fall? I don’t know. Will my book signing event happen next month? I don’t know.
But even in times of uncertainty, making plans can provide energy and motivation to keep working and building skills we want to use. We can continue learning, sharing, and growing our connections whenever we can. Uncertainty is a part of life. It is possible to make things happen even when we feel uncertain about the future.
What can we do now?
- Reduce stress for better decision making. Leave out the drama and get the facts.
- Look at your options. Do your research. Ask those involved.
- Make flexible plans, like reservations and bookings can be changed with little risk.
- Brainstorm where you want your business to be a year from now and start taking small steps toward that future.
As we as a culture begin to expect uncertainty, our world of work and the way we do business will change, so we will not be taken by surprise. Our world has always been changing, but as we have the freedom to travel, live in close communities, and the technology for more information than we can absorb, we will experience change more often. Let’s plan for it.
We can feel optimistic in times of uncertainty.
For example, I recently talked to a small business owner. She is planning for our book event in April knowing that plans may change. We are optimistic, sharing the event, keeping her business in the minds of customers.
Regardless of what happens with our event, we can keep supporting her business and increase visibility for our products and services.
How can we plan for change?
- Expect change.
- Build flexibility in the way we do business.
- Create online and virtual activities and resources.
- Have reusable products on hand for regular use and in times of crisis.
- Plan for the future we want for your business.
Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.
Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote is as true for our changing times as it was in his volatile time in history. Within the framework of safety guidelines and what we can afford, we can avoid procrastinating, and continue doing work we are passionate about.
Some of you are struggling in your life and work during these extremely uncertain times. There are Life and Career Coaches, like myself, who have skills and strategies to help you work through your stress while making plans and decisions.
For more information, contact me, Nancy Miller, Career Counselor/Certified Life Coach. Visit my website at www.nancyjmiller.com. My coaching package, “Find Success as a Creative Entrepreneur,” is a flexible four-session coaching program that can be adapted to fit your needs. https://inlpcenter.org/find-success-as-a-creative-entrepreneur/.
Gelatt, H.B. (1989) Positive Uncertainty: A New Decision-Making Framework for Counseling,
Journal of Counseling Psychology, 1989, Vol. 36, No. 2, 252-256. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.337.4511&rep=rep1&type=pdf.