How to plan in the midst of uncertainty seems a little difficult, doesn’t it? You don’t know what is coming, so how do you plan for it. Today, I am going to talk to you about how to plan in the midst of uncertainty and how to not struggle with the unknown.
If you have been here for any length of time, you know that I am a planner. The past year has been complete uncertainty for me. It started with listing our house for sale and eventually moving. Now it has (hopefully) ended with a stay-at-home order. We are looking forward to more normal, that’s for sure!
How to plan in the midst of uncertainty has been one of the toughest things for me to overcome. Why? Because I like to know what is coming. Everything. Every possible scenario.
How to Plan in the Midst of Uncertainty: Is it even possible?
When you don’t know where you are going, how do you plan to get there? I have been thinking about that a lot lately. It seems like all the plans I had for after we moved into our new home have been put on hold. And because of that, I feel in limbo. Feeling in limbo is the worst thing for me. Having the constant next thing and building on that is what I typically strive for.
So yes, you can plan in the midst of uncertainty. However, it looks a lot different than normal planning would. Why? Because you can’t look too far into the future.
How to Plan in the Midst of Uncertainty: What are the Constants?
The first place you will want to look when you plan in the midst of uncertainty is the constant things in your life. Yes, even in upheaval there are constants. It can be anything from your morning routine and meal planning to bigger rhythms and routines. Whatever it is, write it down.
For me, homeschooling is always constant. Of course, we take breaks, like any normal people, but I feel most comfortable when I am either looking forward to what is next for our homeschool, or if I am in a good rhythm with our kids. This is part of the reason we are year-round homeschoolers. It gives us a bit of normalcy even when the world around us doesn’t make sense.
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Starting to work through scope and sequence for the kids #homeschooling next year. Thankful I have tons of space in my #erincondrenteacherplanner 3 kids all in American History, but all different levels. It should be fun – as long as I stay organized and include plenty of #margin in our days! #homeschool #homeschoolplanning #ecsquad #homeschoolplanner #homeschoolmomlife #homeschoolmom #plannercommunity #erincondren #sonlight #cultivatewhatmatters
Besides our homeschooling, we have seasonal rhythms to lean on as well. It doesn’t mean that everything is exactly the same – we would be leaving the house a lot more if it were. However, getting our garden in, cleaning up our yard, making sure that we are ready for outside entertainment throughout the spring/summer/fall is a constant for us. It is the awakening after the long winter.
In order to plan in the midst of uncertainty, these are some of the constants that I rely on, knowing that whatever is going on I can still have some sense of normalcy.
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Another way to plan in the midst of uncertainty is to keep yourself in as normal a routine with your meals as possible. I know that may sound silly, but the meal routine in our house is pretty strong, and if we stopped it altogether because of being paralyzed with unknown (adding in more take-out meals does not count here!), our kids would notice.
Take the time to sit down and continue your normal family dinners. It is important. Make sure that you still have those deep conversations around the dinner table. It will help your kids feel grounded.
When you plan in the midst of uncertainty your process will be different. You cannot necessarily think about 3 months down the line because there is so much unknown at the moment. This honestly could be for anything, but specifically, I am talking about the pandemic.
Currently, my state is starting to open up. But, the one big caveat is that if this virus starts to spread again, there will be more closures. Living in that type of environment, not knowing if you or your spouse will have a job week to week, that is stressful.
So what can you do? You plan as best you can. You look at your constants, and you work off of those.
How to Plan in the Midst of Uncertainty: Goals
You may think that because of everything that is going on, you can no longer work on your goals. Yes, that may be true of some goals. However, I will argue that instead of scrapping the goals altogether, you look at them differently.
For instance, one of my goals this year was hospitality. I wanted to open our home up to our friends and maintain that community connection. This was one of the big reasons that we bought a new house, to be able to practice hospitality. Since that is not happening at the moment I have had to rethink what hospitality means.
Hospitality as Connection
To me hospitality means connection to your community. If you are not able to meet with your community in your home, what are other ways that you can still practice hospitality?
Some of the ideas that I have come up with are writing letters or cards to friends, dropping off small gifts and food at others’ homes, and even setting up a game night over video chat. These are all ways to practice hospitality but through distance instead of in my home.
These are just a couple of ways to refocus. You don’t need to drop everything, and you can still make progress.
When you are Unmotivated
Believe me, when all of this happened, I was not motivated to make progress on anything. Instead, I was deflated. I didn’t understand what was going to happen next. For someone who craves information, I was not getting the right information to make decisions for myself or my family. That in and of itself is stressful.
One minute my husband and I were dreaming of all the wonderful things we would be able to do in this home. The opportunity to get away from the house and do some traveling, and not worry about all the many projects awaiting us. However, that isn’t what happened. Instead, we were and are kind of stuck here.
How to Plan in the Midst of Uncertainty: Total Standstill
Because we were stuck, and there was new information every day, I kind of just stopped. For about two weeks I was glued to the TV trying to figure out what was going on. I was trying to give my kids stuff to do, trying to get my house in order after unpacking most of the boxes, but it wasn’t happening.
It was OK to take that time. In order to get used to my “new normal” I had to let myself be still for a bit. I’m letting you know that if that is where you are now, that is totally OK. It is OK to not know and to be scared. We can be brave and still be scared.
At some point, I had to shut off the news. I couldn’t keep taking in the negative information and then have nowhere to go with it. I am pessimistic by nature, but when there is no hope at all, that is where it can spiral for me.
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In order to start to make progress you need to move forward. You need to draw the line in the sand and make the decision to do the next right thing.
I opened up my PowerSheets Goal Planner again. I looked over the goals that I had for the year, and I thought about them from a different angle. The new normal. Look at the habits that will lead to you accomplishing your goals. How can you adjust them during this uncertainty? You can still make progress even in such a different environment.
The most important part, however, is to make a plan. When you plan in the midst of uncertainty you are giving yourself permission to take the next step. You can feel good about making some of the important changes you wanted to make at the beginning of the year. Even if you have to think outside the box, your why hasn’t changed.
How does Planning in the Midst of Uncertainty Cultivate Simplicity?
It cultivates simplicity by giving you anchors. It will allow you to take steps toward the life you want. And it also will allow you to adjust your expectations. Oftentimes we think that once we write our goals out, and we write out action steps, we will easily achieve those goals. However, there are always bumps in the road. While this may be a huge hill to climb up, there is another side to it.
Take the time to plan out some normalcy in your day. Work on your morning and evening routines. Are there things that you have wanted to do around the house, but haven’t been able to take time to do because you are constantly on the go? These are the perfect times to do those projects.
Or, have you been so overwhelmed that you don’t know what the next right step is? Take time to work through those feelings. It is OK to grieve in this time, let yourself. Because you need to grieve in order to move forward.
The Bottom Line
It has taken a monumental shift in thinking for me to be able to plan in the midst of uncertainty. But, understanding the new normal, and figuring out how to thrive in that new normal is important. We can’t let ourselves stop living just because there are different restrictions.
I think it is important to continue to reach out to your community, to turn off the news, to make plans for the future within the context of this new normal. And for me, taking some time to re-work through my goals, to look at new planners for the year, that helps set me on the right path.