Planning in Times of Uncertainty

Keep your most important priorities in mind. Step back and consider what’s really important to you, whether it’s integrity, caring relationships, financial security, your health or your family’s wellbeing. When you’re faced with change and uncertainty, revisit your plans and goals with those priorities and values in mind. Perhaps some of your plans are less important right now while others are more important than ever. Some plans may need to be modified to fit changing realities.

Focus on what you know and what you can control. In times of uncertainty and change, there are likely to be gaps in your knowledge and factors that are out of your control. Instead of worrying about what you don’t know and the things that are outside your sphere of influence, focus on what you do know and what you can control. You can’t affect major shifts in the economy, for example, but you can learn new skills and gain knowledge to make yourself valuable in new ways. By focusing on these aspects, you can use your time wisely, stay organized, and maintain optimism and confidence.

Face reality. It’s a human tendency to see what you want or hope rather than what’s really happening. Be courageous in seeking information that might challenge your views so that you can prepare for and adapt to changing realities. Life can be hard. Understanding change can give you strength and protect you from being blindsided.

Consider a range of possible futures. Nobody knows with any certainty what will happen in the future, and fixing on a single projection can leave you unprepared for other outcomes. Consider the different scenarios of what might happen next month, next year, and in the years after that. How might you prepare yourself to live, work, and succeed in that future? Think rationally about which of the scenarios are most likely, using the information you have and setting aside your wishes and fears (both of which can distort your thinking).

Shift your planning horizon. Focus on short-term plans when the long-term future is highly uncertain. Envisioning multiple scenarios can help you see a range of possible futures. What steps can you take now to prepare for several of those scenarios? Making lists of what you might need for success in different scenarios can be helpful. They can clarify your thinking and give you a head start on taking action as you get more information. Short-term plans can give you a sense of control when life feels chaotic, which can give you the strength to keep going.

Get comfortable with uncertainty: Embrace change. People often speak of a “new normal” when change happens. That attitude can be an obstacle to your success. It’s more useful to think of constant change as normal rather than hoping for some imagined future state of stability. The world keeps changing, and the rate of change keeps speeding up. Don’t just adapt to change, embrace it. Get comfortable with uncertainty. Adjust your outlook so that you’re excited to see what happens next rather than afraid of what might be lost.

Celebrate progress. Some changes can feel overwhelming, and your responses can feel insignificant. Remember that major progress starts with small steps, and great things can be accomplished with flexibility and persistence. Take time to look back at what you’ve accomplished.

Know and grow yourself. Keep your strengths in mind as you adapt to changing realities—your skills, knowledge, character, and resilience. Think of situations in the past where you’ve had to adapt, learn, and grow. Have confidence in yourself that you can do that again, that you can grow in new ways, learn new skills, and mature even more in managing your emotions and working effectively with others.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed in life, you can always turn to your EAP. Seeking professional help and discussing your emotions can lessen the intensity of sadness, anger, pain and stress. Call your BHS Care Coordinator today, at 800-245-1150, to discuss available options.