The future is scary. I see many people noticing what those of us “in the know” have been trying to warn about for many years now. What we once took for granted is now not so solid. While this is a harrowing realization, it is not in fact the end of your ability to sustain and maintain your life. It merely requires some planning. In this blog I will go over some planning tips modified from the military decision making process to work in the ever changing environment we find ourselves in.
I will list the steps in this paragraph and go over them in turn below. Understand that this can be adjusted to work in the micro and macro. Once you understand these tenets you can work them into your everyday life.
First step seems easy. What is your desired outcome. Is it to build a homestead? Do you want a new job? Do you need to learn new skills but don’t have an abundance of time. This is the most crucial part. You must know where you want to go before you start the journey.
Step two is the hardest to begin. Once you know where you want to go, you must then “pick the route”. If you are in unfamiliar territory, this can be a daunting task. There are important items to consider when developing your plan. A course of action at this step is just an idea. You should develop multiple courses of action then compare them against each other. You could even use parts from different COAs when it’s all said and done, then start the process over again. You should consider the following during this step: sustainability, feasibility, acceptability.
Your course of action should be realistic. A plan that can not be accomplished is not a good plan. Can this plan be sustained? If you are just one person, then your plan should reflect your manpower and capabilities vs a family of five who can deal out responsibility between parents and kids based on age and capability. Are the actions needed acceptable? Of course you should stick within your morals. Are you willing to accept the trade-offs necessary to reach the goal. As Thomas Sowell said: “There are no solutions, only trade-offs.”
Step three is to wargame these separate courses of action to find the flaws and feasibility when measured against real world barriers. “Wargaming” or trying to find flaws in the COA is a good way to ensure you succeed going forward. For example, if you have an idea on how to accomplish a task, you could ask a friend to poke holes in it. Describe the desired outcome and explain the task necessary to reach this outcome and have a different point of view look at the flaws and possible outcomes that you may not have thought of. Do this for each COA and eventually the “cream will rise to the top”. This is an important step that should not be skipped. In the micro at the individual level this can be as easy as thinking through the possible outcomes and then choosing the path that prevents an undesired outcome. The larger the plan, the more complex this step becomes.
Step four is to create the systems necessary to sustain the plan or the desired endstate. If your plan is to drive cross country, you must plan for fuel, food, rest, and unforeseen circumstances and known possibilities such as flat tires. If you can not sustain the road trip then the trip ends, no matter how well you have planned. Think about who will be responsible for each step. Kid A is responsible for making sure the tire iron and jack are serviceable, Kid B is responsible for packing the ice chest with drinks and road food. Parent A makes sure there is sufficient money to keep the vehicle fueled, and Parent B keeps track of road time and calls rest stops as necessary. This is of course a very simplistic plan, but when everyone works their individual task, the collective task becomes simple.
Step five is to take the theoretical and make it realistic. Take the strongest course of action you have come to by criticizing all of your possible actions and do it. Once you begin implementing the plan, you must constantly analyze the effectiveness and adjust as necessary. Small adjustments are to be expected. Not all possibilities can be predicted and as I was once taught by a mentor once, “The enemy gets a vote”. What this means is people are unpredictable and flexibility is a necessity. A real world example would be driving down the road. You know you must take street A in order to get to point C. While driving a large truck pulls in front of you and stops, blocking the whole road. Do you sit, stagnant, or do you reverse course and take a side street to go around. This is real time adjustment.
Step six is to analyze the effectiveness of the plan once it has been implemented and adjustments have been made in real time to ensure they are working as desired. Your plan can be functioning perfectly but it may not be getting you where you need it to. Did you fail to account for an outcome? Did terrain and time create barriers that the plan failed to overcome? Once you enter the execution phase, you can not afford to blindly continue on. This is the equivalent of “spinning your wheels”. Sure the engine is running fine, and the wheels are turning, but you are not going anywhere. Always make sure you take the time to zoom out and make sure all of your efforts are actually taking you to the desired endstate. If you do not do this, you no longer own the plan, the plan owns you.
I hope this has been a helpful blog. There is so much more to this for major planning however these boiled down steps in the military decision making process can help you achieve your desired outcomes. I used this thought process to get my family out of the city and into a nice house in the country where we have peace and quiet. I use this process in almost every decision I make. My final thought on this is simple, do not let emotions drive the decision making process. You should weigh the possibilities in as close to an emotional vacuum as possible. Now figure out what you want, develop a plan and courses of action, pick one, and implement it. The only thing standing in your way is you.