Need a New Plan for the Next 18 Months?

August 4, 2020 David Witt

In today’s topsy-turvy world, we all need clear goals, an accurate assessment of where are right now, and a plan to move forward, says master certified coach Madeleine Blanchard. But that’s a real challenge these days, when everyone’s life has been turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve all experienced the COVID brain fog and even the challenge some people are having with remembering what day of the week it is. For many, it’s a blur,” says Blanchard.

“I’m not immune. It feels like today is really March the 164th because every day feels like Groundhog Day since California first went on COVID lockdown.”

“But we can’t linger here much longer. The uncertainty and the waiting game aren’t good for us mentally, physically, or emotionally. Stasis is not a natural state for most people. We are much more energized when we feel like we are growing and learning. A temporary holding pattern is manageable, but when it stretches out into months and is accompanied by stress and doubt, fissures begin to develop in even the most resilient of us.”

“For example, many of us are familiar with the ‘Quarantine 15,’ those extra pounds we’ve put on with the challenging combination of a socially convenient refrigerator and a closed gym.”

But that’s just the physical aspect, says Blanchard.

“Even more challenging are some of the mental and emotional challenges people are facing with the prospect of lost jobs, furloughs, increased workloads, a difficult business environment, and a general sense of uncertainty about what’s coming next.

“It’s a recipe for anxiety—and one that leaders need to address as they reinvent what work will look like for themselves and others over the next 6 to 18 months.”

It begins with clear goals, says Blanchard.

“The world changed for all of us in the first quarter of this year. All of the plans we had in place for 2020 were disrupted as the coronavirus spread around the world. Our well-thought-out goals to grow and develop were quickly set aside as we switched gears to simply get through the day. We all became agile, adaptive, and reactive, changing strategies as the situation demanded.

“Now that we have a better sense of what we are up against, that this will be a marathon and not a sprint, we need to take a look at where we stand. What are our goals for moving forward into the next 18 months?”

When setting goals, Blanchard suggests a three-step formula:

  1. Assess your current situation.
  2. Decide where you want to be, keeping in mind your new reality.
  3. Outline a clear first step that’s achievable.

Assessing your current situation

“COVID has put a lot of pressure on us. And when pressure is applied, cracks form along fault lines. It’s likely that frailties you may have had before this have flared up. Many of us are familiar with the typical coping strategies of overeating, overdrinking, or binge-watching TV shows. But other, more subtle tendencies, especially those connected to core personal needs—such as the need to control or the need to judge—can rear their heads when life is disrupted. It is really important to pay attention to these tendencies so that they don’t inadvertently run the show.  

“Do you know where your fault lines are? Have you noticed your frailties? Addressing them starts with naming them and claiming them. Bring your limiting coping mechanisms under control and shore up those frailties. If a coping strategy is getting the best of you, get some support from a friend, a significant other, or your manager. Find small ways to get your needs met that don’t cause you to alienate others.”

Decide where you want to be

Next, get back to your original vision of who you wanted to be, says Blanchard.

“We can’t do everything at the same time, so it is important to use your values—what you say is important to you—to decide which part of your vision is most significant right now. If you have never done purpose work (often referred to by Simon Sinek as finding your “WHY”), now is the perfect time to give it some thought.

“When creating a vision for your team, or possibly reclaiming it after being knocked off course, you might think about asking team members: What is our purpose? What have we lost in the last few months that we should try to get back? What have we never had that, if we had it, would make us stronger and more likely to achieve our purpose?

“Asking questions like these will do two things: (1) generate feedback you may need to hear; and (2) help your team members to reconnect with the powerful basics that will drive the changes needed to get moving in the right direction.”

Outline a clear first step

This is where you turn the vision into action, says Blanchard.

“Think: What is the first thing I can do that is a manageable task and has a beginning, middle, and end? An example might be to complete a ten-minute workout on a free workout app between ending your workday and getting dinner started. Your first task should be small and completely doable.

“The best way to ensure that you will actually take your first step is to find a buddy who will also do it, or who will do something else they commit to during that same ten-minute period. You can easily sabotage yourself by making the task too big or too involved. The key is to choose something you can succeed at right away—because there is nothing quite so compelling as success.”

Take action now

In any case, it’s getting started that counts says Blanchard.

“It has been a challenging year—but perhaps the time has come to commit to our own growth and development.”

That’s great advice. Abraham Maslow famously said, “You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety.” To the degree that each of us can see the road before us, let’s take that step forward by rediscovering our purpose, taking a realistic view of our current situation, and committing to action!


Would you like to learn more about building a new action plan? Join us for a free webinar!

Leading in a COVID World: Assessing Reality, Rediscovering Your Vision, and Engaging Your Team

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

In this webinar, master certified coach Madeleine Blanchard shares a three-step process for reinventing yourself in a COVID world.

  • Assess your current situation. Take a realistic look at where you currently stand.
  • Decide where you want to be. Rediscover your vision and adapt it to the new reality.
  • Outline a clear first step that’s achievable. Create a plan and commit to a first step.

Don’t miss this opportunity to get yourself and your team restarted on the path to success.

Register today!

About the Author

David  Witt

David Witt is a Program Director for Blanchard®. He is an award-winning researcher and host of the companies’ monthly webinar series. David has also authored or coauthored articles in Fast Company, Human Resource Development Review, Chief Learning Officer and US Business Review.

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