Sustainability in Uncertainty: Wrap Up and What's Next


Individual Sustainability is our responsibility. No one else is going to make sure we are sustainable in what we do, how we work, or how we handle the disruptions to the normal. This entire series has been about how to deal with uncertainty and remain sustainable.

You cannot be sustainable if you are afraid of what is going to happen. The first step to controlling that fear is to lean what you need to know to survive or handle the disruption. To do that you have to brainstorm the possible disruptions or problems. This will be harder if the uncertainty cannot even be defined, but the brainstorming exercise may help bring up new ideas.

Once you have the ideas or possibilities of your situation (disaster, unknown change in the market, etc.) you will want to start discovering what tools or supplies you might need to face it. Again the act of thinking through this will spur new ideas and cause more discovery. Let it, and be ready to iterate through this cycle numerous times. The exercise is more valuable than the defined output you create.

With the tools and supplies somewhat defined, pull back the curtain of the situation and discover what makes you afraid, what is a stress factor for you in the situation. Follow the happy path and create a general plan for dealing with the stress factor. Again the thinking process is more valuable than the output, but capturing the plan helps you then discover what support you need to fight those fears and keep yourself calm when the disruption occurs. Circle back to all of the other paths as you work through the plan.  

Take your plan as it is, look at each of the stress factors you identified. Figure out how you can enact and practice the plan. As you practice each area, you will discover new unknowns to take back through this process. Partner with someone who shares your concern with the defined situation. Help them work through their stress factors. Let them help you practice yours. Together you will learn and discover.

In each of these steps you are discovering new bits of information that defines the unknown, changing it in the process to the understood or at least considered. You may not fully understand it, but you will know more about the things you may need, things you may need to do, what may be missing right now, and how you can feel ready for that unknown. You can never completely prepare for the unknown situation. You can however build up your tools, sharpen your sword, and reduce your fear of the unknown. Then, repeat the process to learn more. Readiness is a mindset created by continuous discovery, understanding, and practice. Sustainability is easier to maintain if you are ready for a situation, even if it is an unknown. Build your readiness for what you can understand and discover now and the unknown is a little less difficult to deal with.

When dealing with a disruption, remember some advice beyond this that may help you maintain your sustainability. Keep your mind present where you are. Thinking about things beyond what you have to deal with right now can be debilitating. Rely on your planning and apply it here and now. If you have to think beyond now, remember;

  • If you know how to deal with the future problem, there is nothing else to do
  • If you don’t know how to deal with the future problem, categorize the risk
    • Is it a critical or highly likely risk
    • Can someone else here deal with it if it comes up
    • Can you minimize the risk somehow now
  • If there is nothing you can do about it right now, park it and consider it again later if needed or if the risk increases

Spending a lot of time of what may happen can paralyze you. Deal with the most critical issues in front of you right now or the most likely things to stop your progress toward a solution. If the plan is not working, don’t be afraid to abandon the plan and come up with a new one. Your practice up to this point has prepared you for changing and coming up with new plans. Pivot as soon as you know you need to.


Thanks for coming along on this series. I am going to be releasing more posts each week on Individual Sustainability. Next week I plan to share a one shot post about the importance of a sabbath to your Individual Sustainability. Come see what I mean next week, right here.

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