What choice do you have when you can't predict the future?
This spring for me has been a long sentence of dreary, wet and cold weather, punctuated with short stretches of warmth and sun. I'm generally a moody person to start with, but the volatile climate situation perfectly mirrors the emotional challenges of navigating the multi-front physical, mental and fiscal health crisis unfolding in the world right now.
More people have more stress but fewer outlets to relieve it.
A great form of stress relief for many people living in proximity to the Rockies is mountain biking, which of course is highly weather dependent. For most of the first phase of COVID, the trails were either locked down or too slushy, muddy or shameful to ride either a fat bike or normal mountain bike on. Biking was off the menu. So was skiing and golf and even hiking.
Weather (not unlike the economy, markets and society), by virtue of the complex forces that shape it, is fundamentally and practically unpredictable. This is not to say that a good read on the forecast is not a useful planning input. Of course it is. Anyone planning to do anything outside needs to know what in the environment is likely to help or hinder the success of the venture. Being ill-prepared for the environment can lead to failure. Too much clothing or equipment can slow progress to the point of failure and too little can lead to exposure, discomfort, injury or death.
Adaptability is often more functional than predictability.
I appreciate the spirit of the entire enterprise of predicting weather as fruitless and fraught with peril as it usually is. I look outside and see it's raining even as the weather report says it's currently partly cloudy. Forecasts diminish in accuracy the further out the time horizon is, but should be almost perfect in real-time. I've resorted to thinking a weather rock might help me plan my day just as well. If the rock outside my window is dry, it's not raining. If it's wet, it is. If it's white, it's snowing and if it's gone, altogether, it's windy. It's a joke that contains an uncomfortable truth about how our strategy brains work. And don't.
The forecast for the weekend was mostly for rain across Western Canada, but different locations within 120km of my home all had different weather windows. We opted to bike an hour away, based on the forecast suggesting this was the driest. I ended up slipping a tire on a wet rock and left the trail, badly bruising my ribs and whacking my head in the process. We would have been better off playing golf. We have all the clothing and equipment we need to play in the rain.
There's no bad weather just bad clothing choices.
Biking is my preferred recreational strategy to deal with stress but it's not the only one. I learned quickly from my choice to ride on a trail that didn't have enough time to dry out. As I'm writing it's pissing down rain. I could have gone golfing, but chose instead to start a fire, do some reading, listen to podcasts, write and work on my software. All things that I am just as invested in as biking.
As the old joke goes, "what makes god laugh? People making plans." My plan for every weekend is a dynamic composition of these elements, depending on the vagaries of weather and my mood. Whenever I get too static in my thinking, I usually pay the price. When my strategy does not match my environment I suffer.
If you know what's most important to you and have more than one strategy available to you, it's easier to identify opportunities as conditions change . Rather than remaining stuck on one strategy, it's easier to pivot and change it up in real-time. A strategy framework might be better than a static plan.
Static plans seldom keep pace with a dynamic environment.