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A plan can adapt

A plan can be adapt along the way to react to unexpected events and needs

It is easy for me to see planning as a final map of how things have to be done, but reality tends to show external circumstances demand that a plan go through iterative changes to stay on target of delivering key objectives.

Cartoon depicting step ladder with the plan diverging away from the steps

Tip #2: Make plans — from which you’ll deviate. 

“For our book Big Feelings, my co-author Mollie and I interviewed Dr. Laura Gallaher, an organizational psychologist. She told us, ‘We don’t resist change. We resist loss.’ By converting ambient anxiety into more specific fears, you can pinpoint exactly what you’re afraid of losing and how you might be able to avoid some of those circumstances,” says Fosslien.

But in the face of uncertainty, it's easy to get swept up in analysis paralysis — and anxiously trying to plan for every possible future scenario is hardly helpful. “Dr. Laura Gallaher told us that teams at NASA have a practice called ‘making a plan from which you will deviate.’” 

Here’s how it works: When the future seems uncertain, get together as a team to figure out the 2-3 most likely future scenarios and map out a few specific next steps for each one. Call these your, “Plans from which you’ll deviate.” “You shouldn’t see your plans as set in stone. The point of this exercise is mostly to reassure everyone  that you’re prepared to face what comes next as a team. This can help the group feel more confident and informed, while also creating realistic expectations,” says Fosslien. 

While you can’t accurately predict the future, you can increase your confidence that you’ll be able to get through whatever life throws at you. Successfully navigating change is not about trusting the world; it’s about trusting yourself.

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