How many Starbucks planners have you seen on your Instagram feed so far? Chances are, not as many as last year, if at all. At start of a new year, after one that is unlike any other, does it make sense to plan ahead?
Blame it on 2020, it's a new calendar year yet COVID-19 is still here and a vaccine that promises to turn the tides of the pandemic is still months away in the Philippines.
According to life coach and psychologist, Dr. Ali Gui, the challenge of having to grapple with this much uncertainty is all the more reason to plan. Planning matters more than ever now, she said.
"There's no reason for us not to plan ahead because we have been doing it. With or without a pandemic, there will always be uncertainties that can derail you from your plans. Planning is how we cope with uncertainty," she said.
Plan for the things you can control
In crises like this, a person would tend to believe they are completely defenseless from everything that's happening. Aside from mutating virus, there's the threat of typhoons, and problems in government.
Still, this doesn't mean people don't have choices, Gui said.
"Although we are grappling with the unknown, that does not mean we cannot do anything to help ourselves. We may not be able to heal the whole world or give vaccines to people, but there are things we can do on our own, things we can control," she said.
"It's the fear that stops us from moving forward. But the truth is, we should still encourage one another. Our role is to project confidence and strength not only onto ourselves but also the people around us," she said.
Go ahead and plan for the year, she said. It's a way of coping with the inevitable uncertainty of life. With or without a virus, people can lose their jobs or deal with the loss of a loved one. The fear has always been there, she said, only made heighten by the current health crisis.
How to plan in a pandemic
Planning and goals-setting must be done in a SMART manner — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound— she said. The pandemic has changed life as we know it but remnants of the old normal are still there, although most of them have moved virtually.
Planning a Zoom session with a friend? Write it down on your planner. Thought of a goal you want to make happen this year? Plot it on your journal.
Particularly during a pandemic, Gui stressed the need to navigate a plan with care and consider not just one's self, but others as well.
"If you have ideas to travel, think long and hard about the risks. Be responsible by strictly following protocols because this is how you maintain compassion," she said. It also pays to be transparent about one's own feelings and to accept what is possible and isn't, to avoid falling short on expectations.
"We wish we were not in this situation but we're already here, so we must do our best in this uncertain time. At the end of the day, we still hope for things to be better," she said.