3 min read

How to Plan Your Year When Things Are Uncertain

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This is usually the time of the year where I’d have my 2021 on the wall, month by month, meticulously planned out – significant pieces of work, trips away, and key events clearly marked. Conferences. Concerts. Holidays. Colour-coded. Organised. Beautiful.

Spoiler alert: I do not have 2021 on the wall right now. I’ve got January – April in scribbles next to me on my desk, and most of the usual items are written in pencil.

Every time I book something for next year I smile at the end of the conversation and think to myself “Yeah, righto. We’ll see…”

Given the dogs breakfast that was 2020, there’s no point planning for next year… right?


So, so wrong.

In times of high uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to take charge of your life. To get clear on what you really care about, what you want to do, how you want to spend your time, and what your intentions are for the next stage in your journey.'

What are you going to do otherwise, spin your wheels for a year? Waste another 12 months doing the same sh*t, with the same people, thinking about what you'll do once things "settle down"?

Are you going to be a victim of circumstance? Surrender like a plastic bag in the wind, swept up in the way you've always been, the way things always are, and other people's bullsh*t?

Not if you’re one of my tribe, you won’t.

You can absolutely make a plan… it just has to look a bit different.

Uncertainty management is a thing, and it’s time we learned it. When we plan for uncertainty, we focus a lot less on the 'what' - the details, deadlines and projects - and turn our attention to the 'why' and 'how. 'Why' questions strike to the core of our identity, purpose and values. 'How' questions ask us to consider our priorities, and the most important changes we need to make. When we have those things nailed, it doesn't matter what comes up on the daily - we just push it through the lens of what matters to us, and what we're aiming for, and act accordingly.

When it comes to uncertainty management, it’s never been more important for you to have an eye on your long game. Here’s the thing: when everything seems a bit f…raught, you’ve got two frames you can use:

Option one: Nothing makes sense anymore, so there’s nothing I can do

Option two: Nothing makes sense anymore, so I can do anything.

2021 Vision - Set Your Frame

When you use the second frame, the world all of a sudden opens up. Anything becomes possible. That’s the frame I want you to use, as you look ahead to the next year.

Planning for 2021 is all about throwing the shackles of the knowable out the window, and asking things like...

What really matters to you?

Who do you want to be?

What kind of life do you want to live?

What do you want to be remembered for?

What impact do you want to have on the world?

What you want to take from this year... and what you want to leave behind?

What choices would you have to make for that to be real?

What commitments would you have to set in stone?

What would you have to take a deep breath and let go of?

Who would you have to let down?

What support will you need - and how can you line that up now?

The answers might be easy. You might be more certain than ever of your values and intentions. 2020 might have only solidified that you're on the right track, and you just need to keep it up.

Or, the answers might be hard. You might be less confident than ever about your decisions and direction. The changes you want to make might appear impossibly large. Part of you doesn't dare to believe you can, because your answers might seem too big, or ridiculous, or far away to even get started - especially if you have no idea what's coming for you next year.

I mean, yeah. That's cool. But the uncertainty isn't a reason to shrink. The audacity of your ideas are no reason to put them down. The ambiguity of what 2021 will hold is a terrible excuse to freeze, because the time's going to pass anyway. We'll be here, next year, having this same conversation - and what do you want to be telling me then?

Here's what I know about you...

You can do anything. You're smart, you're capable and you're designed to do great things. You're here for a reason.

Things are always going to change, shift, morph and turn to sh*t. Whether it's a pandemic, an illness, a disaster at work, or a disaster at home**, there's plenty more in store. The only thing really standing in your way is you, and your ability to grab onto possibility... and do something.

So, what will it be?