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Change of Plans: How to Make it Work

Photo by Frank Mckenna on Unsplash

One of the scariest things for me, personally, in the current situation is uncertainty. If you know me or have worked with me, you can say I am a planner. I like to make plans, I love to make things happen, and I do my best to apply my project management skills at work, as well as in my personal life. However, at this very moment, some of the commitments I had, resolutions I made and promises I made to myself are hard or impossible to deliver on. It makes me sad, helpless and angry.

I want to share my personal take on what adjustments I had to make to my plans for 2020 and how I try to make it work for me. I hope it will give you a bit of inspiration for pursuing your dreams and make your plans work for you.

2020 was to be a breakthrough year for me … and it still could be

Early in 2020, I defined four main areas I intended to focus my efforts on in the coming year. Those areas were social life and communication, health, professional development, and personal growth. For each one, I prepared a plan of action (initial plan) for the year ahead. I now want to share how I had to adjust (change of plans).

Social life and communication

Initial plan: Last year, I was heavily focused on my career. Therefore, I aimed at getting back to a more active social life in 2020, spending quality time with my family, reconnecting with old friends and making some new connections. I started the year going out more, attending professional events and networking more often.

Change of plans: No doubt, social life has to be put on hold for some time. However, I feel communication and social contact become extra important in these turbulent times.

The first thing I continue doing is being in touch with my family and friends via all means of communication and supporting each other.

Second, I will definitely pursue expanding my network, doing it online rather than offline. I have already scheduled at least one video call per week with new connections to discuss professional or personal development topics (reach out to me via LinkedIn, if you’re interested). Moreover, I contacted event organizers in my network to discuss the idea of holding networking sessions and conferences online.

Last but not least, changes of plans will affect our relationships with our partners, and my dating routine during quarantine time is about to change. I still have to figure out how to maintain strong and healthy relationships and keep that work–life balance, while staying in the same place day after day.

Health

Initial plan: My major focus for 2020 was to be my well-being. My goal was to incorporate physical activity into my daily routine, drink more water and add healthy eating habits. I also wanted to try a new kind of exercise (e.g., dance classes), and add it to my usual yoga and cross-fit sessions. My plan also was to pay more attention to my mental health, adding daily meditations and therapy.

Change of plans: I guess the current circumstances encourage us to embrace a more healthy lifestyle and highlight that a strong immune system helps to get over the possible sickness.

For me, exercising and walking have always been integral parts of my routine, and I miss the opportunity to spend as much time outdoors as I used to. To be honest, I also miss my cross-fit instructor and the gym. On the bright side, with the diversity of online video tutorials, it is still possible to continue an active life (I use these video tutorials for my workout and yoga). I do continue my water and healthy-eating routines, but I allow myself some chocolate treats from time to time.

More importantly, working from my home office gives me more time and flexibility to incorporate meditations into my day (I use the Calm app), and I continue my therapy sessions via video calls.

Professional development

Initial plan: At the end of last year, I found a new job as a digital product manager and a great team with which I was so keen to start working in 2020. For my next career move, I planned to relocate to London. My would-be employer and I spent three and half months arranging a work permit and Tier 2 visa for me to start my new role on March 24.

Change of plans: I canceled my flight to London, and upon agreement with my would-be employer, I postponed commencement of my employment. One of the major reasons for that decision is I want to be closer to my family and keep staying home until the situation becomes more manageable for vulnerable groups, medical personnel and authorities. Another reason is purely logistical: First, it is hard to arrange relocation amid border closure and lockdown; second, employers struggle to arrange onboarding, and have to adapt to a new reality of recruitment and HR practices.

I am very grateful to my future employer for working out a mutually acceptable approach for both sides, and when things get better, I hope to start my new role. Meanwhile, with all the uncertainty, I might turn out between jobs, as my previous employment contract was terminated at the end of March. To stay positive, I aim at benefiting from this time to refocus on personal development and acquire new skills.

Personal growth

Initial plan: I do love to learn new things, and to continue learning, I planned to enroll for a few courses, including one on UX design. Additionally, in 2020, I wanted to go beyond my comfort zone and enhance my public-speaking skills by presenting at at least one product management event. Finally, with all the busy days and packed agendas, my personal challenge for the year was to slow down, and focus on quality over quantity.

Change of plans: The best thing we have now is more time to reflect on priorities, so let us spend it wisely. To be honest, I gave myself some slack, and I spent a few days watching Netflix, browsing Instagram and laughing at puppy videos. Sometimes you just need a break.

Last year, I took two amazing courses, both of which were held online (one was a software product management specialization via Coursera, and another was a product analytics simulator, GoPractice), and I move forward with online courses. Despite the fact that most conferences and events might be cancelled this year, I have an idea to try mentorship instead, sharing my experience with aspiring professionals.

Finally, I will stick to my favorite activity ever, which is reading. Check out books on communication I read last year, and do follow my monthly reading lists.

So what’s next?

If you know me or have worked with me, you know that, apart from being a planner, I am also very persistent. And I believe perseverance will become a nice quality to have in times of uncertainty. Your plans are going to change, as are your routines, but I think it is important to stick to your values and dreams, and make it work for yourself. Thank you for reading, and stay safe!

If you want more reviews of my favorite books and tips for your reading list, please follow me on Goodreads. To stay connected, follow me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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