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Navigate an uncertain future

So what now?

 

BY JOHN WILLCOX

Tea cup and post-its reading Now, Next, Later illustrating the Fairisle article Navigate an Uncertain Future
Sarah Willcox business change consultant

John Willcox is Fairisle Consulting’s Lead Consultant

If you’re anything like us you’ll be feeling the effects of nearly two years of Covid. Many people in our network talk of feeling drained, that carrying on every day is an effort of will. Motivation is low and even if things are going well, it’s hard to feel excited. Especially as another winter approaches in the UK, bringing the possibility of the re-introduction of Covid restrictions and other measures.

A natural hope

It’s natural to hope for a return to business as usual – to operate with the same assumptions and in the same way we did before the Pandemic. But many of us are coming to accept that life, and business life in particular, will never be the same again.

So what does this mean? If we can’t expect a return ‘back to normality’ any time soon, how do we navigate an unknown and unpredictable future?

Take a step back

Maybe we can take a step back to view things in a different way. Covid has been a massively wide-ranging change event for sure. But we’ve had those before – the global financial crisis of 2007/8 for example. We often think of change as separate from normal life. That there’s some kind of ‘steady state’ we can go back to and any change is a variant from that. But the fact is that change is a constant, in the economy, in society and in our own lives.

 

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A simple exercise

The difference with large-scale change events like Covid is that we can feel we have no agency, that we are subject to forces far beyond our control. And this is true to an extent, but it doesn’t mean that there is nothing you can do. Try this simple exercise to see what we mean:

Jot down the main issues that are blocking your progress right now
Organise them into 3 groups:

  • Personal
  • Organisational
  • External

Find the three that are having the most impact on your progress. Mark these with a star.

Find the three that you have most influence over and draw a circle around those.

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Navigate an uncertain future

The issues marked with both a star and a circle are the ones you can tackle without interference, and without having to worry about the impact of forces beyond your control.   You’ll probably find that they fall within the ‘Personal’ and ‘Organisational’ groups.  That’s fine.  Even if they seem trivial,  they are at least actions you can take. You might find that starting small is a great way to keep the bigger problems in perspective.   And to start navigating change in an ever-changing world.

This technique comes from our ‘Sorted’ worksheet, which many of our clients have found really helpful in navigating change in times of uncertainty.  Download your free copy of the Sorted worksheet and start planning.

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