If you find yourself concerned about the uncertainty of the future, you’re not alone. But there’s an open secret that may surprise you: the future has always been uncertain. And for that reason, it’s wise to give yourself contingency plans.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, you may have felt like you knew what was ahead. Certainly there are flashes of the future you can predict or envision, but much of what happens is out of your control. If nothing else, the pandemic has made that truth more clear. And it leaves you with a choice to make about how you approach planning for the future: should you make plans or not?
I hope you’ll decide to make plans. To choose otherwise suggests you could lack optimism or may have a fatalistic attitude about the future. But you’ve chosen to make plans, so that’s a great sign!
Consider your options
Since you have optimism about your uncertain future, consider all the options that are ahead of you. One of those could be retirement. If you think you’ll retire from your job or career in the future, you can choose to save money. Setting aside even a small amount of money from each paycheck will give you a degree of certainty in your own financial independence.
If you have a career you really love and want to stay in it, consider ways you can be more flexible. Maybe it’s weighing the implications of being in a long lease versus a shorter one. Or how you can make your services more inclusive to attract a wider audience. What language or languages should you consider learning? Moreover, how much of this can you do without diluting your impact?
Sometimes it pays to think smaller. What if you need to go deeper into your niche so you have a narrower specialty? What services do you need to discontinue so you can focus on the ones that deliver the most value for your clients? Which parts of your job are most rewarding to you? Which parts can you contract out so you can spend more time on the elements that are profitable?
These can all be classified as contingency plans. And they can be your best friend when you’re facing uncertainty.
Because options can give you certainty
Contingency planning gives you more than one way to reach your goals or desired outcome. A contingency plan doesn’t necessarily mean you’re giving up on your goal or that your pursuit is not purely in the direction you intend, but it can mean that you’ve given thought to the impact of things outside your control. And you’ve given yourself some options that will produce the outcomes you desire. Or even an outcome better than the one you envisioned.
So, now that you have peered into the unknown future, what do you see? I hope you see something as bright and hopeful as the future you envisioned before the pandemic hit. And I hope you see how giving yourself options will lead you to the goals you have so carefully crafted, even if it means taking a detour along the way.
Uncertainty and change are the constants in life. But you don’t have to fear them when you can empower yourself with flexibility to mange them.