In a month from today, I am supposed to get released from the army. A month from today, and I’m supposed to start off my life, to do as I wish, follow my passions, or at least find… A plan.
But in the midst of a world crisis – it seems as if there couldn’t be a worst time for that. Start your life? where exactly? Jobs are limited, universities are closed, traveling is out of the picture. Seeing your own friends is a rare opportunity. How can I even talk about a game plan when I don’t even know what next week might look like?
I believe that these daily thoughts of mine may be familiar to some of you. It’s hard to plan when the sky couldn’t be more cloudy. And yet – it’s possible and even necessary to go through it all. Planning is an important aspect of visioning where we want to be in one week, month, or year, regardless of the circumstances. It can give us a basic sense of who we want to be as humans, as partners, as leaders, as friends, and that base gives us the strength to deal with the current situation.
While I am a person who likes to know everything she might do in the next 10 years (or 50?), I am not an expert (I don’t think anyone on this earth really has an idea on what’s going on, even if it seems like it!). Nonetheless, I do see planning as a good part of my life that gives me stability & joy. Making such plans, big or small as they may be, was especially helpful in the past year. They gave me little milestones that made me excited, and even if some of them got moved around or delayed – just the fact that I even set up a goal of actually doing something – kept me on my feet. There are many ways to setup these little milestones. I truly recommend you to do the same – so here are a few tips on how to plan, when everything is so uncertain.
1. Accept that this will stay for the long run, and change your mindset accordingly
Thinking that this virus is a temporary situation will just make you disappointed, month after month. Think of life as if this virus is to remain as it is, because at the moment, change may not be soon. Fighting it wouldn’t change reality. Trying to go back, reverse time, or just longing for a new life only highlights what’s missing. If you start focusing on what you do have, on what’s available to you, you realize that all the extras are just what they are – extras. It may take some time to change this mindset but once it’s done, you might feel a sense of relief.
2. Once your mindset is changed – make big or small milestones
It could be big stuff like getting into the university you’ve always wanted, start a business. It can also be smaller stuff, like going on a trip or cooking a fancy meal. I know it sounds tricky, but here are things that you can do: for example, if you start working on your business/project, even if it doesn’t end up launching when you wanted it, at least you started. You now have something to look for, and more time to put the effort in. When the time is right, you will be much more prepared to get it going. The smaller milestones give us a short-range purpose – even if your trip is postponed (abroad or in the country), it doesn’t mean it won’t happen at all, you just have to be more patient.
My point is – don’t stop. Be flexible, make the most of what you can do. Having things to look forward to gives a feeling that life isn’t over – it’s just changing.
3. Study something, anything
Learn online or offline – there are so many options. Find something that interests you and invest some time & thoughts. This can lead you to find new opportunities, that could be helpful now or after the pandemic.
3. Invest in your relationships
Goals and plans aren’t only materialistic. Invest in your relationships, It’s the one thing a pandemic didn’t stop. Yes, we can’t see as many people as before (which sucks), but close friends and partners are still there. For romantic relationships especially, it’s such a good time to be in one, for both sides. You get to be with that one person in very intimate moments with nowhere to go, and really get to know one another. It can be harder to meet a new partner during this time but its possible – Ask a friend to hook you up with someone or talk to people you already know. And if you’re not looking at all – invest in your closest friends & family!
4. Find what works for you, and what doesn’t
Finding what isn’t quite right for you, is just as important as finding your passion. I truly believe in this. When you find which things don’t serve you anymore – habits, friends, relationships, you’re doing serious work towards a better life. What good would it be to plan but for the wrong goals? Many of us, including me, tend to run towards goals without thinking “is it good for me? is it bad for me?”. Doing this math is crucial to having a good plan.
5. Learn from crisis – you will champion the next battle
This is shitty but right. I believe we will all come out of this crisis better – especially better risk managers. While we may or may not have another pandemic, I am sure was going to have more crisis, it’s just how the world works. We’ve had many financial ones before, and this one sure won’t be the last. The people who will take notes and listen – are the ones to come out stronger on the next battle.