It’s been a mess hasn’t it! Although it’s done now in the South and we are back to normal rain, in some parts of the country they are still submerged in the white stuff. My husband is a sun lover and is very prone to moaning about the winter weather – every year. So, I regularly point out that he shouldn’t be surprised it’s cold because we live in the Northern Hemisphere and he shouldn’t be surprised when we get snow and ice. My response doesn’t stop him moaning but it makes me feel better.
This time the forecasters nailed it and the warnings went out early, but the severity and speed of the onslaught caught many of us by surprise. Some suffered because they chose to ignore the warnings or take careful precautions, others were just unlucky.
Most of us experienced some disruption, for others it was virtually total. As I’ve said lots of times before, if you have to go through something relatively unusual then you should try and benefit by finding the learning points. So here are my takeaways and you will not be surprised to hear me say that most of them relate in some way to personal planning and preparation.
To get us through the unexpected and out the other side, I think we all need three things:
· Resilience: We all hunkered down and waited for the worst to pass. This is true in many situations, not just in bad weather. However, our ability to do that is predetermined by the amount of advance planning we did in order to prepare for the situation. Those in the North who have had to venture out now that their food stocks have declined will understand that completely. It is also true in other areas of our lives. For example, unhappy employees can become self-employed and masters of their own universe – but this is usually dependent on their having put away sufficient reserves to weather the unemployed famine until they find their feet.
· Flexibility: Received wisdom is to plan everything. Make a plan to have a plan. Make sure you know what you are doing, when you are going to do it and how you are going to afford it. That’s good advice – usually! Sometimes things rear up and smack us very firmly in the face and the only way to respond is to duck or swerve. We should not be so wedded to our planning that we become rigid in our thinking. It is preferable to remain flexible in our outlook and retain the ability to bend with the prevailing wind or, in extreme conditions, actually change direction. For example, the consultant who believes that they know what they can offer to potential clients but finds that particular talent is not popular so must alter their offer in order to attract future clients.
· Plan B: Life can be just plain hard work. The most successful people will tell you that they made their millions by endless hard work and ruining their social lives in order to attain the prize. But sometimes it becomes obvious that the prize is not going to be worth it or we are moving in the wrong direction. The personal and career choices we make can become limiting or send us off down a rabbit hole. At those times, it will always pay to have Plan B sitting in the background. In the first instance, it will probably be nothing more than a thought that comes to you at the end of a long, miserable day. For example, wouldn’t it be lovely if you could stop commuting into the city and become an antiques dealer in a small country town? Or the qualified lawyer who has risen through the ranks by study, experience and talent, who suddenly finds that his personal passion for home-brewed beer has become an obsession. There may well come a trigger moment when the decision is taken to go and look for a small shop or risk it all to open a micro-brewery. If so, Bravo! But it won’t be right for everyone.
Choices. We all have them every day. Sometimes we don’t recognise them as they pass us by but it can take something out of the ordinary, like our wonderful recent weather, to give us time to sit down and really think about what we are doing and why we are doing it.
If Plan B is looking more attractive by the minute, then give it some airtime, roll it around in your mind. You never know what your next choice will be.
If you need a friendly ear to listen to your plans, then I’d love to help so do give me a call.