Planning for the future seems much more fraught than ever before. Once upon a time the past was known and the future seemed predictable. Today the present is changing so fast our heads are spinning. Time to break out a new perspective, since the old rational models of decision making are out-of-date. The new model (Gelatt) is positive uncertainty.
“It is a paradoxical, ambiguous process for managing change using both your rational and intuitive mind. And it is a process for changing your mind as you go along.” The idea is that you accept the past, present and future as uncertain. And, you feel positive (or try to be) about that uncertainty. What principles should I keep in mind?
1. Be focused and flexible about what I want
*Treat goals as hypotheses; balance achieving goals with discovering them; know what you want but don’t be sure.
2. Be aware and wary about what you know
*Balance using information with imagination
3. Be objective and optimistic about beliefs
*Balance reality testing with wishful thinking
4. Be practical and magical at the same time
*Treat intuitions as real; balance responding to change and causing change
What’s it like to view the world with positive uncertainty? I think it means that while I make plans and set goals as to what I will do in retirement, I have to keep in mind that there is no telling what might happen: health issues, economic pratfalls, infrastructure replacements: furnace, air conditioner, cabinets, etc. Plans to travel, develop a business, help adult children may be derailed. I have to be able to flex with the times, still keeping a positive eye on my goals and adjusting them, not giving up, when they don’t work out.
All I can do is formulate hypotheses- educated guesses- about what I will do and what will occur, and stay positive, even in the face of uncertainty, accepting that it’s all out there- good and bad.
Few of us were raised to be comfortable with paradox. We imagined a cleaner, clearer, fairer, more comprehensible world. But at 60+, like it or not, paradox is here to stay.