In Handy 11:55 30 Dec 2022

Plans for 2023: how to build your life in conditions of uncertainty

Techniques and practices from a psychologist that will help you not to get "stuck" in apathy, sum up the results of this year and prepare for the next one.

What is the problem?

The year 2022 is coming to an end. It was a terrible and unpredictable year for Ukrainians. In a peaceful time, when we were more or less sure of the future and felt safe, summing up the past year and planning life for the new year was a little anxious but pleasant. Today, when there is no such stability and certainty, planning life and self-determination is becoming increasingly difficult.

What is the solution?

There is a war in our country, and no one knows what will happen tomorrow. It is increasingly common to hear advice not to try to look into the future and live today. However, it is natural for people to want to control the course of their own lives. To have an understanding of where to go, what to strive for, and how to achieve what you want in relationships, work, education, and many household things. Unfortunately, we can't just take and cancel the stress that each of us has been under since February 24th. But we can help ourselves not to "hang" in this stress. A firm intention to take even the smallest steps forward will help reduce nervous tension and feel in control of life.

Odesa psychologist, coach, and life-management consultant Olena Samsonova helped Rubryka to figure out how to make plans and achieve goals during the war, to be objective with setting goals, and not to chastise yourself when things didn't go according to plan.

How does it work?

Summing up

Alpinists have such a term — "suspension syndrome" when a person hangs in a harness and must remain in this position for a long time. Blood stops flowing to the brain and other organs, and after three minutes, there is shock, loss of consciousness, and death. If you don't start moving. So if you feel that life has stopped, every day resembles the previous one, and it seems that you have been staying in one place for a long time, start moving.

And the first step to planning the future should be summing up the year. Why do it now when it would seem that the main event and the conclusion are obvious to everyone?

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According to psychologist Olena Samsonova, results are the intermediate finish lines of life; when we "cross" them, we get a sense of directed movement. If there are no finish tapes with results, we lose our bearings. Getting out of uncertainty requires creating certainty where we can create it. We all have finish ribbons — we have been through a lot this year and have become stronger in many ways. This fixation is necessary — behind each finish, there are new "races" and, therefore — new victories.

So be sure to summarize this difficult year for each of us.

  • Write what you have learned this year, what you have overcome, and what you have done in each area of your life.
  • Even if, in some areas, the achievements were not at all what you planned in peacetime, be sure to record them.
  • Mark how you are different today from yourself a year ago for the better.
  • Determine what made you stronger, what made you more professional, and what made you wiser.
  • Tell yourself: what have you learned about yourself this year?

The answers to these questions allow you not to nullify your real achievements and form a new starting point for future growth.

Holding on to the future

There is no end without results. There is no new beginning without an end. And without achievements, intentions, and dreams about them, life loses its meaning for many.

During periods of stability, we learned to plan days, months, and years. Goal-setting trainings began with the words, "The more clearly you formulate your goals in detail, the easier it will be for you to create a step-by-step plan and achieve it." Currently, such recommendations are not relevant. In a period of turbulence and unpredictability, anything can happen, and your well-laid plans can collapse at any moment. How to act now? We asked psychologist Olena Samsonova about this.


How to plan life in a period of uncertainty?

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  1. Be sure to set goals for the coming year, even if you don't know what will happen next. Take what is definitely under your control (vocational training, health, and fitness, relationships, helping loved ones, work, social projects, etc.) and set goals. If you can't do it for a year — bet on the future you see in front of you.
  2. Write down all goals by time and steps. And it is important to record small intermediate goals and their achievement. It gives a sense of progress and forward movement.
  3. Create a vision of the future in several options. That is, plan possible goals and plans to achieve them for several options of the development of the events. "If events develop according to scenario 1, I will implement plan A and achieve the corresponding goals. If they follow scenario 2, then I will activate plan B and its corresponding goals." And so on. With such planning, you have a choice, you are prepared for various surprises, and they do not knock you off your feet. At any moment, you can put plans B, C, D, or even Y into action.
  4. Set goals and achievements in different areas of your life. Think about your different roles in life. What will you do as an Employee or Entrepreneur? What are your plans as the Creator? What will you plan as a Woman/Man, Relative, Traveler, etc.? If plans fall apart in one area, meaningful achievement of goals in other areas will support you.
  5. Summarize your activities and note changes daily, weekly, or monthly. It creates awareness and fullness of life here and now.

Olena Samsonova emphasizes: it is very important not to get upset and, even more so, never to scold yourself for not being able to achieve something that you had planned.

Peacetime standards cannot be applied today. Today, most of us are going through a deep crisis and stress. People in such conditions cannot always act as in normal peacetime. Give yourself a chance. Take care of yourself. Go to your goals in the way that hurts you the least. Now we aim to survive physically and psychologically, find new footholds and restore our resources. And at the same time, move forward, perhaps changing intentions and plans simply in the movement process.

Don't dream, know!

"Holding on to the future" in wartime also means holding on to what you will definitely do in peacetime. Think and record your answers to the following questions:

  • What will you allow yourself from what you want, for which you did not have money, time, or opportunities before?
  • What will you do to stop living "not your life"?
  • What will appear in your life from what gives you energy?

Right now, you can understand and choose yourself and your life. Be honest with yourself and decide what kind of life you will live after the war. Right now is the time to cleanse yourself of illusions and imposed "correctness," the psychologist emphasizes.

No need to dream… know! Know that when the war ends (nothing lasts forever), you will definitely do something strong and real in your life. Just make a list and know that you are ready to accomplish everything from this list. Hold on to that intention in our volatile present.

Even more useful solutions!

It's time to live

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In times of crisis, we often shrink, "freeze," cut off all our desires, and direct all our forces and plans only to survival. But according to the expert, this is not the best behavior now. With such an approach, some aspects of our personality lose their freedom because with the words "not now," we deny them (that is, ourselves!) self-realization and drive ourselves into a prison of inactivity.

This is not the time to create, joke, or draw. Bring beauty, and have fun. This is not the time to go to cafes, learn dances, travel…

"Perhaps, thinking like this, you are partly right, but… In this way, you block yourself. All your roles are meaningful and create the role system of your personality. By blocking part of the system, you block the entire system. And denying yourself the joy of creativity, traveling, dancing, etc., you simultaneously block those serious roles that work in a crisis for survival, stabilization of the condition, concentration on important goals," says the psychologist.

What shall I do? Unlock "secondary" roles from your point of view:

  • Talk to yourself.
  • Find out who inside you is suffering, which roles.
  • Ask them what they need now (read – what you need now) so they don't block essential things and actions.

It may turn out that for inner peace, balance, and accurate operation of the entire system, you just need to promise yourself simple and affordable things:

  • watch a funny comedy once a week;
  • allow yourself to finish reading a series of detective stories or learn a dance;
  • promise yourself to definitely buy a cool camera, and for now, just go to photography courses.

The meaning of life is to continue living. Delayed life and various "afters" are an illusion. Life is happening now! Try to remember this not only on New Year's eve but also every day.

This material was created by the online media outlet Rubryka within the framework of the Ukrainian Rapid Response Fund program, implemented by IREX, with the support of the US State Department. The content is the sole responsibility of the Rubryka online media outlet and does not necessarily reflect the views of IREX or the US State Department.


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