3 steps for planning for Uncertainty

3 steps for planning for Uncertainty


If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that life is anything but predictable and planning for life’s unexpected road bumps is extremely important. If feelings of uncertainty and anxiety are starting to get between you and your 2021 goals, use this three-step process to plot a better path forward.

1. (Re)Identify your purpose.

A big reason that so many New Year’s resolutions and goals fail soon after they are set is that they weren’t clear and actionable. In other cases, some people get so caught up in the positivity of a new year that they set too many targets that aren’t seen as important enough to follow through on.

If you’ve lost sight of your annual objectives, take a moment to refocus and reassess the goal you were so excited to achieve at the beginning of the year. Did you aim too high at something you can’t realistically accomplish? Did you aim so low that you aren’t really motivated anymore? Are external events such as financial market fluctuations and COVID-19 clouding your perspective on what you can and cannot do?

When so many things feel beyond our control, it’s important to refocus on what you can control. Use your recalibrated expectations for 2021 to focus specifically on one or two goals that will make the rest of the year a success.

2. Make a microplan.

So, you’ve decided this is the year you’re going to start saving for a new home, in anticipation of a big 2022 move? That’s a good goal but it’s missing actionable steps. If you just tell yourself, that you’ll just spend less every month and put more into a dedicated savings account, it’s likely you won’t be happy with that account balance at the end of the year because you haven’t given yourself detailed steps that will keep you accountable.

This is where microplanning comes in. It’s a strategy that can help you break down annual goals into actionable short-term steps.

Let’s say your dream house is $400,000. A typical down payment for a new house is around 6%. Assuming you can cover mortgage payments, your big Annual Goal is to have an extra $24,000 saved by December.

That breaks down to a Monthly Goal of $2,000 saved for your new house. Where is that $2,000 going to come from? A pay raise from a new job? Cutting some monthly budget items?

Once you’ve adjusted your monthly budget and cash flow, you can set a Weekly Goal that will help you hit that Monthly Goal. Looking at specific aspects of your savings to see where your money is going will help you shift your budget to hit your goal. How much extra money can you save if you only do takeaway dinner once a week? Could planning meals in advance reduce your weekly spending on food shopping?

Finally, dig a little deeper and think about some Daily Goals that will flow upstream to your bigger goals. Creating little rituals can help you save small extra amounts that will add up to making the difference. For example, every time you decide to not by that shiny new thing (that deep down you know you don’t really need) walk away and transfer the price it would have cost into your home savings. This will surprise you how often you could have spent meaningless cash and instead put it towards your future.

3. Anticipate problems and solutions.

Now that you have a vision for what you want to happen, make a list of some things that could slow your progress towards your big goal, and how you might be able to overcome or avoid those speedbumps.

Will your annual savings goal be able to sustain a sudden financial emergency, such as an unexpected car problem?

If a COVID-19 spike makes you nervous about going to your local gym, do you have an at-home regimen that will keep you on track for your fitness goals?

No one can see the future. But understanding past mistakes or obstacles can help you minimise their effect if they rear their ugly head in the future. Treat your finances as the tool to get the future life you want. It takes work, but it’s worth it!