Making future plans can be tricky even at the best of times. When times are uncertain it can be even more of a challenge. Everything from finances to personal relationships, family and friends comes into play. Where should you move? What career should you pursue or transition into? The questions are endless. Fortunately there are some helpful tips for how to plan the future in uncertain times.
1. Be Flexible
Staying flexible is the key when you don’t know what the future might hold. Write out a list of potential scenarios and then brainstorm. You can even do it as a flowchart. If A happens, do B, if B isn’t possible, do C, and so on. Staying flexible during volatile times gives you the very valuable option of switching plans on short notice and having a variety of backup plans for the future. Even if your first plan doesn’t work or needs to be delayed, you can fall back on another plan and regroup for approaching your plans at a different time or in a different way. Stay flexible with future plans and you will weather uncertain times safely and well.¹
The second big tip for planning during uncertain times is directly linked to the first tip. Diversify. This means don’t put all your eggs in one basket, plan large trips or moves unless absolutely necessary. Try to maintain a variety of options. This includes if you are trying to plan for the future of your business or company during an uncertain time. Make a chart of best and worst case scenarios and prepare – to the best of your ability – to survive and prosper from these challenges. Whether this means branching out into new products, drawing up new plans for your kids’ college education or talking with your business partner about new budgeting necessities, knowing your options and diversifying your approach will put you in an admirably strong position. If you are planning for yourself or your family do the same thing. Consider diversifying your finances, stock investments, assets and other parts of your familial or business wealth so that one or two negative developments in the world won’t sink you below the red line. There are tried and true ways to get through tough times and diversifying is one of the most important.²
In addition to staying flexible and diversifying where you put your money, time and attention, prioritizing is important. This means taking an honest and hard look at your necessities for yourself individually, your family and your business and planning accordingly. If you have a rock solid priority – even if it is a future dream – put this at the top of your list and start taking steps, however small, to make it happen. Even if you can’t be sure how things will shake out down the road, you can start making a list of options starting with your priority. Certainly you need to remain flexible and have various choices on this list, but it’s also important to be honest about what is your top priority whether that is starting a family, buying new property, selling your house, finding a new job or dealing with health issues. Even if it is not yet a good idea to buy tickets for a trip, for example, it won’t hurt to write it down and price out the approximate cost and list out different priorities that you want to accomplish along with their pros and cons. Also keep in mind that while you may not know what is possible to plan or not at this point you can still write out potential plans that will kick in once certain conditions are met.³