darren-happyIf you didn’t internalize this notion already, it’s very likely that 2020 made darn sure you knew that one of the only constants is change. And, as 2020 showed us, that change is not always predictable.

Now that the initial shock of an upside-down world has worn off, this is the perfect time to embrace the fact that life will continue to be perfectly unpredictable. This isn’t a doom and gloom post. Rather, it’s about keeping your perspective – and your head about you – when things seem out of control.

Here are a few ways to do that.

Stay updated, but know when to pull backit’s good to stay informed, particularly if a relevant situation is changing rapidly. However, there is a difference between reading the latest update and doom scrolling.

Once you have the facts, take some time to disconnect. They’re not likely to change in the next 20 minutes, and you probably won’t do yourself any good if you’re consumed by rumors, talking heads or pontificators. Take the facts you need to know to react in this situation, then form your own strategy for dealing with this turn of events. Leave the talking heads to the cable news shows.

Work through various scenariosmost of us hate being caught off guard. Sadly, it’s just a byproduct of an unpredictable world. So work through the scenarios in your head now – before they’re a problem.

What if you have to close your office again? What if interest rates rise? What if the housing market declines? Of course, you can always prepare for the positive as well. What if business increases by 40 percent? What if I need to hire more help? What if I outgrow this office? Preparation is needed for both the good and the bad. Think through both scenarios, then formulate Plans A, B and C. Suddenly, the world seems a lot more predictable.

Be open, be flexiblepivoting is one of the most important strategies that ensured you survived 2020 relatively unscathed. When the situation changes, your plan needs to change. You can’t just go about your business as if nothing ever happened.

So approach this industry, your clients and your broader environment with an open mind. Consider multiple possibilities. Welcome any and all opportunities. Diversification is critical when business – or one part of it – ebbs and flows. By opening yourself up to broader thinking and more opportunities, you’re really opening up to possibilities that may never have existed for you before. These are the types of possibilities you always want to be ready for.

Know your factsdon’t wait until a situation changes to take inventory of what you have. You should always have a clear vision of where your business is, what your pipeline looks like and how much progress you’ve made toward your goals. There’s no such thing as “panic buying” in our business when you’re the loan advisor. If you feel you need to hoard anything, you’re already behind the eight ball.

This is also the appropriate time to determine whether any changes need to be made to your business – either now or in the future. Cost analyses should be factored into Plans A through C, including where you can quickly cut costs if need be. To do this, however, you have to have a thorough understanding of your current spending/expenses, tax estimates, cash flow projections and margins.

Strengthen your relationships – relationship building never goes away. But just like costs, you don’t want to wait until you’re panicking to contact others. Maintain strong and healthy relationships regardless of the current atmosphere. Check in often. Ask what your clients and referral partners need. Listen and remain empathetic at all times.

When you do these things, you make it so much easier to bond together when unpredictability hits and business maybe isn’t as easy to come by. Plus, no one likes hearing from someone only when they need something. That’s the fastest way to get sent directly to voicemail or to the junk folder. People don’t like to be patronized and they don’t want to feel used, so make it a point to foster your relationships all year, not just when it benefits you.

It’s great to see we’ve all gotten used to the “new normal” that comes with this current pandemic. While your newly adopted habits will get you through this situation, there will always be another around the corner, just waiting to throw off your equilibrium. There’s no need to live in fear of this if you’ve already prepared diligently. Take a little time to do this so you can hit the next curveball out of the park.

Regional Vice President - Southwest

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