How to Plan Your Life When the Future Is Foggy at Best

If there’s any beauty that has come from this pandemic, it’s that we are reorganizing our priorities to honor what really matters to us. And for many, “career” is at the top of the reboot list. A lot of folks are currently asking, “What do I really want to do with my life, given that everything else seems to be up in the air?”

Letting go of what we always thought we could count on, however, can leave us feeling like we’re floundering. Having a plan is one of the best stress reduction strategies in those situations.

If you’re looking for a new job, you’ll want to be sure adaptability is part of the equation: Use your desire to create a strategic plan to create checkpoints that will allow you to adjust your course when new information becomes available and circumstances change. This strategy is known as microplanning, and it allows us to relax without succumbing to the false belief that we have control over what will happen next.

There are six elements to Microplanning:

1. PURPOSE: Define a compelling purpose that provides for flexibility in how it will be realized. When it comes to their professions, a lot of people are in the middle of a reboot. New directions can feel hazardous, but when we look back on our careers, we often identify a common thread that runs through all of our previous responsibilities. When it comes to finding your compelling purpose, that thread is a wonderful place to start. For example, one of my goals is to assist leaders in connecting to sustainable sources of personal power so that we may all contribute our best selves to mankind and the earth.

While the manner in which I carry out this aim may alter as circumstances change around me, the goal stays the same. If you’re not sure what you want to accomplish with your life, try this brief exercise: write down the most rewarding work experiences you’ve had thus far. Take note of the similarities they share. Those are the components of your goal.

2. THE YEAR: Based on the best available information, make a year-long plan that is aligned with your mission. Choose one to three areas in which you want to improve. A job search, seeking growth opportunities in your existing position, establishing the basis for launching your own business, or whatever else makes sense for you could all be part of your strategy.

3. QUARTERS: Consider the time that has just passed at the start of each quarter. Consider the following questions: What worked and what didn’t in the previous quarter? What did I discover? What needs to change in my strategy? Set no more than five goals for the upcoming quarter based on your responses.
4. MONTHS: Review your quarterly goals each month to see how far you’ve progressed. Break down any active goals into specific projects, and then into phases for each project. To get a project off the ground and get the results we want, it must go through four separate phases: planning and initiation, shipping/launching/making it visible, completion and integration, and rest and reflection.

If your project is to “find a new job,” for example, the “plan and initiate” phase would include updating your resume, tapping into your network for potential chances, and searching for openings. Applying for jobs, showing up for interviews, and following up would be the next step in the “make it visible” phase. When you receive your new job offer, the “complete and integrate” phase is the onboarding phase. Finally, allowing yourself to breath and relish the fact that a new cycle has begun — and you have achieved your goal — would be the “relax and reflect” phase.

5. WEEKS: Make a weekly to-do list at the start of each week, rather than a daily one that’s a mile long and leaves you feeling dejected at the end of the day. This weekly plan gives you a bigger picture of what’s coming up and more planning flexibility than a typical to-do list. But don’t limit yourself to work-related things. As you plan out your week, remember to prioritize movement, sleep, time outside, hydration, and eating healthy foods. Physical energy optimization is far more successful at carrying out your ideas than believing the widespread, but incorrect, belief that our finest work comes solely from our intellect.

6. DAYS: Last but not least, keep track of your energy on a daily basis. At the end of the day, gathering data about yourself and your physical, mental, and emotional energies can provide you with valuable insight on how to improve your workflow. Keep a notebook beside your bedside to record your emotional, mental, and physical feelings. Make a list of what you worked on, how it went (what went well, what didn’t, and what you learned), and what you’re planning to do next.

thankful for This five-minute technique allows you to gradually change how you show up at work and in your life so that you may approach your weekly, quarterly, and annual planning with greater mindfulness. Using this data collection method to make micro-adjustments to your work and goals offers you a wonderful sense of control, which has been shown to reduce the time it takes to complete tasks.

All around us, the world is changing dramatically, and we must evolve as well. It’s no longer possible to stick to a long-term strategy like the five-year plan. However, letting go of our need to know what the future contains does not imply a descent into worrisome indolence. We begin to check in more regularly and change more effortlessly when we break down our planning processes into smaller parts. Although the five-year plan is no longer in effect, our ability to conduct our most impactful work and achieve the goals we set for ourselves remains very much alive.