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How to Plan in Uncertain Times

When we think about planning in COVID times, it can feel that all is uncertain.

Things Aren’t Always Black or White

My advice is to try not to think in binary terms, things are neither completely certain nor totally uncertain, and they are neither predictable nor completely unpredictable.

The danger when planning in uncertain times is that we can choose to be blinkered and proceed blindly as if there is no uncertainty. For example: “I’ve decided that I will change my career, and that’s what I’ll do, no matter what.”

Or we could surrender to the uncertainty and decide to completely go with the flow: “I won’t plan this year and see what opportunities arise and trust my gut.

These approaches could yield a positive outcome for you, but the contrary could also be true.

What is Knowable?

An alternative approach is to start by acknowledging that there are things that you know.

For example, you could check out the job market, the growth of the sector that you plan to move into, future trends in employment etc.

You can successfully imagine a range of potential situations that you could face in the coming year, you might not imagine them all, but you might get some of them correct.

By doing this, you begin to realise that not everything is uncertain. There are always things that you know.

No approach can make the challenges of uncertainty disappear, but it can help you to have more informed and confident plans for the future.

If you have some potential scenarios that could play out, then you need to decide on your moves.

What Moves Can You Take?

I love the idea of different types of moves that you can take, mentioned in this HBR article, I’ve outlined them below:

  • No Regrets Moves – these will pay off no matter the situation. You can never go wrong with a commitment to learning something new, getting healthy or meeting more people.

  • Options – These will have a positive payoff in some areas, and potentially small negatives in others. Maybe you decide to invest, there’s a potential risk if it goes wrong, but one that you can handle.

  • Big Bets – Big positives if they go your way, but big negatives if they don’t. For example, committing to double your staff, or investing in a hotel or retail business at this time.

Just knowing that you are consciously making this move, no matter what you choose can help your level of comfort with planning during uncertainty.

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