In their book “Decisive”, brothers Chip and Dan Heath share research-based strategies for making better decisions. One of those strategies is particularly relevant when you’re facing a very uncertain, volatile future (sound familiar?).
I use this with my clients when they are facing uncertainty and disruption in their industry, and it’s just as useful for all of us now.
The basic principle is about stepping out of the present and project into the future.
Right now, we’re in a very uncertain time, not sure what the next day will bring, let alone next week or next month:
Of course, you might be feeling some stress and anxiety! But just for a moment, step out of this present moment and imagine what the situation will look like:
- 10 weeks from now,
- 10 months from now, and
- 10 years from now.
You don’t have to choose those exact numbers – for example, it could be 2 weeks, 5 months, and 3 years. The point is that you choose a short-term, medium-term, and long-term time frame.
Put yourself into each of those three futures, and imagine what that future looks like.
This gives you two very important things.
1. It gives you a new perspective.
First, instead of being stuck in crisis mode right now, you can imagine there’s a better future out there. That alone can reduce some of your stress and anxiety now, and give you more confidence.
That’s helpful in itself, but the second thing is even more useful.
2. It helps you make better decisions NOW.
Imagine, say, 10 months from now, the Future You looking back at today:
“Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m so grateful 10 months ago you made those decisions and took those actions.”
Then ask yourself what decisions and actions is that Future You talking about?
That gives you more clarity about what to do now – not only for managing now, but for preparing for that future.
Take a few minutes now to try this process.
This is a simple process, and it’s easy to ignore it because it seems too simple. But don’t fall into this trap! Even though it’s simple, it’s also very powerful.
This won’t solve all your problems now, but it can move you from doubt to more confidence, confusion to more clarity, and helplessness to simple actions you can take right now.