Our Planning Is Off – Way Off!

Before we plan, we reflect on the past, whether that is our past actions, last year’s results, or the things that went wrong at the holiday family gathering. Our past shapes what we want in the future as well as the changes we need to make for a better future.

If you think about where you stand right now, it is a full collage of the things that went right and wrong in your past, thereby shaping who we are at this very moment. All the experiences you had that were not planned that tested you in ways you never imagined.

All the experiences shaping us and our past are a blend of both good and bad plans. Most of our memories today are a balance of both those things we planned 20 years ago and the events, situations, and crises that were  unplanned. So, if we know bad things happen despite planning or a lack of planning, why is it that all of our plans going forward are entirely rosy and only depict good things? Are we naive, blind, or merely afraid to plan for the bad?  

Bad is going to happen. Many of us have savings accounts, earthquake kits, and basements set aside for real emergencies. We plan for vacations, meetings, account deals, and new projects but do we know how to plan for interruptions, new teams, layoffs, changing emotions, hardships, and disasters?

Disasters have hit us hard, but does that encourage us to plan for the next one? Many millennials in California have never experienced an earthquake. They are clueless to what it really feels like to have the earth move from under your feet. Someday they may be totally emotionally overwhelmed with a small tremor while baby-boomers shrug their shoulders and say, “Oh, not so bad.”

Our perspectives need to be as expansive as life itself for our planning to matter.

Red Cross disaster expert Debbie Leahy says the Red Cross emergency task forces are trained to focus on preparedness, response, and recovery. They know with better preparedness, the response is more clear and determined toward positive outcomes. In turn, recovery is assured with improved preparedness. This cycle for better outcomes due to preparation continues for everyone affected in a disaster.  

Try these 5  preparedness tips:

1. Know your own values. Take time to think about what you really stand for, and the words people use to describe you to others. What is your brand and presence of with others? Are you doing those things that you want to define you or is someone else or some other extrinsic goa defining you – for example, the President’s Club, a title, or money?

To be yourself in a world trying to make you something else is the greatest measure of accomplishment. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

2. Solicit feedback from others, even those what aren’t your best friends, including those you respect. Genuinely ask, listen, and attempt to improve on those items you believe worthwhile. Not every piece of feedback from trusted and non-trusted sources requires change. You get to determine which changes you’d like to make. That’s planning for better relationships.

3. Schedule time during your day and week for the interruptions that will happen. The actual time you plan may not be exact, but it will help you realize you don’t actually have a full 8 hour work day, you may only have a 6 hour day. At least 2 hours a day are eaten up by interruptions, customer complaints, required last minute conference calls, or an injury, that take place all take time. Plan priorities for a 6 hour day and you might achieve those plans, versus every day having a pile of things that didn’t get done – making you feel bad.

4. Reflect on your personal, job or life changes that were most difficult. Itemize what you learned about yourself. What past actions worked and which didn’t work? Strengthen those muscles you need to weather the next storm. Write in a journal, connect with a confidante you may have lost touch with, or reach out to a former boss. These people and others begin to form your safety net to help you get through the tough times.

5. Build a network – not of job possibilities, rather of friends. Do you have friends in multiple aspects of your life? They will be the shoulders you cry on in crisis, even if you don’t know them that well in the good times. Reach out. Plan. It matters for life storm recovery.

Where we are now, and where we plan to be in 20 years, takes preparedness, contingencies, and sacrifice. Plan for the whole possible picture, not just the happiness, that you know from your past is going to be altered.

We will suffer from the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. ~ Tom Burns

Life comes at us hard, and knowing who we are is the start to planning where we want to go. In tough times, if you know your values, beliefs, and ideals fully, then you will be better prepared to weather the storm successfully.

Tough times don’t build character, they reveal It. ~ Anonymous


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