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Can We Quiet the Chaos?

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Does it feel like we are living in the most chaotic of times? We pile on more and more, and it gets more chaotic. Our days and weeks are filled with tasks, surprises, unexpected expenses, and too much stress. What do we do? Isn't there a breaking point? I am married, have four kids (3 are teenagers right now), a house that needs repair and have my own business. Everyone has their challenges, no matter the stage of life. The news and government seem to make things harder. Society has its expectations that vary from person to person. It is hard to know when to invest, hire, or save if you own a business. Lately, everything has been getting more expensive, and it gets hard to understand how much cash you need. 

I do believe you can decrease chaos. Nobody will eliminate it this side of heaven, but here are three activities you can take that will help.

1. Planned Focus

I have been using the Full Focus Planner since 2017. This tool has helped me, more than anything, to quiet the noise and put a systematic approach to planned focus. I am not going to spend too much time explaining everything here. It can be overwhelming at first. I will admit that coming up with goals for the year can be daunting, and most people are familiar with this. However, the Quarterly and Weekly Preview is where it gives you significant power. 

 One quarter, I decided I didn't need to do this, and I was fine with just planning my day. I was so disconnected from everything happening throughout the week, month, and quarter that I started missing tasks and putting out more fires. Do you feel like you are putting out fires all day? If so, this is a stressful and inefficient way to live, and it is not necessary. I lasted six weeks without this planner and went back to it.

2. Be a Forecaster

I have been going through the book Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen by Dan Heath. My favorite story is about Hurricane Pam. It was not an actual hurricane but a simulated one contracted by FEMA to plan for a major hurricane to hit New Orleans. This simulation started over a year before Hurricane Katrina. Over the following year, many workshops and simulations occurred to work through all the government agencies and coordination that would be necessary to move over 1 million people, deal with the loss of electricity, and house people in public shelters. After Hurricane Katrina, on August 29, 2005, 4 workshops were completed involving over 350 attendees from Federal, State, local and voluntary organizations. Of course, not everything was addressed in time. The chilling fact was that the Hurricane Pam simulations were similar to what happened with Katrina. 

Pam forecasted 20 inches of rain vs.18 with Katrina
Pam had 55,000 in public shelters vs. 60,000 with Katrina. 
Both were category three storms. 
1.1 million residents were displaced in simulated Pam vs. 1 million for Katrina.
786,359 people without electricity with Pam and 881,400 with Katrina
Over 60,000 deaths with Pam vs. over 1800 deaths with Katrina 
36% evacuated in Pam simulation vs. 80-90% with Katrina

 Now I know Katrina was a disaster, and many things could have gone much better. However, the planning and forecasting did save thousands of lives. No forecast is perfect, but it does help considerably, and you get better with time.

 Forecasting doesn't have to happen with large, complicated agencies. You can forecast your business, and it can significantly help prevent chaos before it happens. I wrote much more about this in my book, Forecast Your Future: How Small Businesses Can Exchange Stress and Chaos for Cash and Clarity.

3. Motivate With Numbers

We are motivated by numbers. All sports have some scoring system. Baseball statistics are numerous, from batting average, on-base percentage, number of home runs, and much more. In addition, we measure revenue, profit, cash, and many other key performance indicators in business. 

 I find that breaking down key goals that are very measurable is the most helpful. For example, to increase revenue, you must measure emails, phone calls, meetings, proposals, sales pitches, and contacts. You then must compare actual goals and work to improve.

 We use numbers to track weight, calories, sleep, cholesterol, and much more. When we track numbers and forecast where we want to go, we can start moving in the right direction.


In the statement before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee on January 24, 2006, Madhu Beriwal said the following:

 There is a maxim in warfighting "No plan survives first contact with the enemy." There is another in emergency management "Plans are useless; planning is priceless." Though the plan was not finished, many elements of Hurricane Pam still proved to be highly useful in response and recovery to Hurricane Katrina days, weeks, and months after the massive storm struck the Gulf Coast.

Maybe you will read this and go back to doing what you have always done. But instead, I encourage you to take a step toward planned focus, being a forecaster, and motivating yourself with numbers. So, start with one thing today.