Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Managing Uncertainty (part 1)

The world is realigning after almost a decade of 'new normal.'  It feels very tumultuous to me, but it probably is neither as chaotic nor as business-as-usual as our variety of news media portrays. So I thought I'd share some of my methods to gain perspective and manage my level of uncertainty.  I've used many of the same methods for years so that I can remain functional yet feeling peacefully prepared while trying to live a normal life' -- whatever that is.

The first part of all of this is to check my own thinking to manage both the normalcy bias and the worst-case thinking that I'm capable of letting rule my mind.  Most people are US-centric in their thinking, so don't believe any one or group could actually want to create a world of chaos. That leads to groups of people supporting stupid ideas, like supporting causes that are bent on the destruction of our society. Believing that there are magic words that will cause the bad guys to stop their long-game process is denial of the highest order. On the flip side, believing that a young man who was raised on bravado and testosterone won't use a nuclear weapon in the short-game is also folly. So how do live a normal life without being paralyzed between these two possibilities during a time of extended economic and social uncertainty?

I do this on four levels. The first is physical. I am slowly collecting the stuff needed to maintain a somewhat productive life if a worst-case scenario unfolds. For this I do what I can afford and store, so primarily some long-term food storage, alternative but minimal solar power and small appliances and forms of home security and defense. Lots of websites cover these things ad nauseum, so I won't belabor this level of preparedness.

The next is social. I'm fortunate to live in a small community. We are not like-minded, with community members covering the spectrum from ultra-conservative survivalists to ultra-liberal.  Oddly, across this political and philosophical spectrum many of the people, not just conservatives, are long-term preppers. Taking the local temperature and sharing sources and methods with carefully vetted others is helpful. Regardless the politics, many of us have reached the same conclusion -- that the political system and our government don't care about anything beyond the eastern seaboard, so we're on our own.

Third is informational. Cultivating sources of local, national and international information, and knowing what the biases of each are is important. This process helps avoid over-reacting to hype and under-reacting to real threats. One will cost you money -- possibly selling you stuff is the point of the hype OR getting you injured or killed while trying to minimize chaos for the masses. I watch several indicators that to me often reflect psychological respopnse to what's happening. These include:

- the VIX volatility index, which gets my attention when it increases quickly or goes above 15
- the price of gold. When it goes up it is a signal of international uncertainty
- a variety of websites of reputable news organizations and individuals
- local networks

The fourth is spiritual. I network with those of my own denomination for prayer and support. I spend time in prayer and solitude for guidance, perspective and peace of mind.

So how does this translate into now?  What am I doing differently? The little things, mostly. Many of these are habits, but I am reviewing and renewing these. Most of these cost little or nothing above normal expenses. Here are some of the examples:  Going for fresh groceries weekly rather than every couple of weeks.  Keeping the gas tank in my car topped-off. Keeping up with the laundry. Keeping up with home repairs. Paying more attention to my garden and doing little things (like weeding more often) to improve production.

I'm having trouble with the Blogger, so will add a part 2 to this later today or tomorrow.

1 comment:

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