Making Good Decisions in Difficult Times
/ Author: Ryan Timmermans
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Making Good Decisions in Difficult Times

No one has a playbook on how to handle the complex issues we’re facing today. So how can we make good decisions? Here are some guidelines

By Ryan Timmermans, Regional Director, Edmonton Member Centre

Over the last few weeks, I've heard the phrase think long term, plan short term. We need to prepare ourselves mentally that this COVID-19 situation will take a while.

As we have seen, the best-laid plans can change overnight due to some unforeseen circumstance or new information. So planning short term is simply what we have to do.

This can be really uncomfortable in both our personal and work life. As individuals, communities, governments, employers, employees, and unions, we are dealing with a lot of challenges.

Some of us are working on the front lines of healthcare or retail. Others are unemployed or underemployed. Some of us are sick. Others are very scared of becoming ill or unknowingly passing on the illness.

Every day, we are forced to make difficult decisions. Without being dramatic, we are living through an emergency, and unfortunately, no one has a playbook that gives us clear direction on how to handle all of the complex issues we are facing.

So how are we supposed to make decisions in emergency situations? What guidelines can we follow when trying to make difficult decisions for circumstances we’ve never faced before?

In the current context, I think back to three steps I've heard from respected leaders over the years:

  1. Maintain your point of reference. Keep focussed on the main goal. Don’t let yourself be distracted or paralyzed by the many side issues and what ifs that invariably come into play.
  2. Wait for the sudden and violent motion to stop. When possible, wait for things to settle a bit before taking action. Avoid spontaneous decisions if you can.
  3. Practice realistic optimism. Have situational awareness and be very honest about the situation at hand, but maintain hope and look to the future. Hope and optimism can literally help us survive.

Personally and in my work at CLAC, I have found these steps very helpful. Listening to high-profile leaders in government, healthcare, and business, it's encouraging that many of them also seem to be following these steps.

I am thankful for political and medical leaders from across the country and for our members, staff, and employers who are showing up each day, trying to make the best decisions they can to weather this storm. While no one is going to get it right 100 percent of the time, I am confident that as a country, as communities, and as individuals we can collectively make good decisions that will carry us through.

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