If 2020 has taught us something, even the best of plans can go wrong.
Whether it's a global pandemic, climate change, or the rise of automation, the pace of change in our world is accelerating rapidly. As the future becomes more and more unpredictable, our planning methods must evolve accordingly. Use these three strategies to get started.
1. Focus on what you can control.
Although you may not be able to predict your career, or even your month-to-month income, you can focus on your “acquaintances” to help make your future plans. For example, even if you don't know your exact monthly income, you probably have a good feel for your monthly expenses (housing, groceries, utilities, insurance premiums, etc.).
Use these known costs to find out how much you need to make at least each month to cover your essential living expenses. Or use it to find out how many months your savings could support you in the event of a job loss or significant income disorder.
You may not be able to control the future of your industry or your local job market, but you can control how much you spend and save today.
2. Commit to taking action on the results.
When talking about what you can control, setting action-based goals (as opposed to results-based goals) can be another effective planning strategy. Instead of simply saying, "I want to buy a house one day" or "I want to have a successful career," you can rephrase your goals as actions; B. "I save 5 percent of each paycheck in a special savings account" or "I will be applying for 10 jobs every week."
These action-based goals are not only more urgent and specific, but also leave much more room for flexibility
3. Think about the worst case scenario.
Thinking through your responses to possible worst-case scenarios such as losing your job, your home, or your health will provide better protection against these outcomes. In some cases, it can also help you come up with alternative plans that may better suit your present.
For example, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, my husband and I had significant income losses. We focused on what we could control - our expenses and living expenses - and decided that we could move out of our expensive New York apartment if we had to.
In July, we decided to push that change forward and what initially felt like the worst case scenario actually turned into a huge relief as it freed up resources and allowed us to focus on our next steps.
It can be overwhelming - if not downright morbid - to consider worst-case scenarios, but giving them some meaningful thought now will help us adapt better to what lies ahead.