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Planning in the Storm

Planning in the Storm

| April 30, 2019

Life has its moments.  We typically move along at decent pace as we accomplish our plans, check off our projects, and move to the next destination.  But sometimes, things go sideways – or even backwards. 

Since it is now May – and in Oklahoma, that means CHAOS (severe weather).  I thought I might give some practical tips on how to plan during and through life’s unpleasant detours.

We typically make plans when things are calm.  Companies take planning retreats and couples plan for the future while on vacation.  Most of our plans are based on a smooth progression from one year to the next.  If you are invested in your plans it is normal to want to see them through, no matter what life throws at you. And while we know speed bumps and unexpected detours are part of almost every journey, what do you do when the wheels start falling off?

It may seem counterintuitive to try to make plans during chaos.  Some would say it is a waste of time and energy when there are so many unknowns.  But it is not uncommon to get a call from a client or a friend when crisis shows up wondering what these unplanned, and often painful events, will mean for their future.

During chaos, try to remember some of these tips:

  • As events unfold, gather information. Just assuming everything will be fine or claiming that your world is ending is not helpful.  Sure, we all want to know how this chapter ends.  But at the beginning, that is an unreasonable goal and focusing on an unknowable outcome will dull your ability to pay attention to what is actually happening. 
  • Do not focus on your long-term plans. Many of life’s painful events have a reasonably short lifespan.  Once the storm has passed, you can see how this has affected your plans.   Like the first idea, do your best to “be in the moment”.  When we are afraid, we often borrow from other experiences we have had.  We can and do learn from previous experience, but also focus on the reality of what you are experiencing now and don’t compare this event to the past.
  • Take an inventory of your available assets. Most problems require and consume resources.  Not all resources are monetary.  Know what you have available to you to solve this challenge.  This can be family, friends, time, and/or money.  You likely don’t have to do this alone or fix it right now.
  • As the problem becomes better known, decide what success could look like. Many problems have periods of uncertainty followed by a choice.  Is there anything you can be doing now to advance your cause before you get to the next decision?  Short-term goals during a crisis can help improve your outcomes.
  • As you emerge out of the storm, take inventory again. Where are we – what do we have available to us now.  This is when you look at your longer-term plans and see if the storm has caused any lasting damage.  Remember, everyone takes their turn and not every journey is smooth. 

Chaos tests our character.  It asks us if we are victims or survivors.  Even in the storm you can keep your wits and your sanity.  Remember, panic is not a plan.  If you need help navigating a storm or adjusting your long-term plans after the storm has passes, let us help!

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.