Planning For Unexpected Futures

Well, that didn’t turn out the way I expected, and the biggest issue was probably my expectation. Silly me, thinking I had some control over my life. I held a self-publishing class and workshop today, and everyone cancelled; but another person unexpectedly showed up, we had a strategy session for his business, and my business set a record. If – when – I succeed, it may be in unexpected ways. In which case, does it make any sense to plan for, or work at anything? Maybe I should work out a plan for that.

Self-publishing changed dramatically about the time someone noticed that high-speed laser and high-speed inkjet printers were just about as good as the average printing press. Back around 2000 a new type of printing enabled a new type of publishing. Print-on-demand printing enabled what I call Modern Self-Publishing. Load a couple of files into a computer. Print the insides. Print the cover. Glue the two together. Only print as many as are needed. Print one at a time just in time instead of printing a few thousand and hoping they sell before something ruins the inventory. Some ingenious person realized that most of the sales were online, therefore coming from people with computers, in which case skip the printer and just sell them the files. Ebooks were born. Thanks to a series of rejection letters, I was in the first wave of writers to use the news technologies. On average, since 2002, I’ve published one book per year.
Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland Twelve Months At Double Bluff on blurb

The publishing industry is undergoing a revolution as dramatic as the ones that hit the movie and music industries. Digital technologies decentralize authority and control. Fears of unencumbered shoddy work call the traditionalists to guard the gates. Empowered artists exercise the new technologies to go up, under, through, or totally ignore the gates, the walls, and the old fortresses. Hollywood exists. Record companies exist. Publishing houses exist. But they no longer hold the majority of the control. The majority of the control is held by unorganized crowds of individuals that do not require consensus. Some work is shoddy, from a certain perspective; but purer voices and unheralded talents are also unleashed.

I’ve watched the industry go from scoffing at a version of self-publishing that accounted for a few percent of the total, to an industry that sees the new technology producing more than the establishment. The industry is finally responding by using the same technology and buying the competition, but the momentum is too great and the change can’t be controlled or denied.

In some ways I’m an early adopter. I enjoy watching trends, and have used that habit as a basis for investing. (Read my book, Dream. Invest. Live. for details.) Dream. Invest. Live. That worked well until deregulation and the Great Recession. It may yet prove itself again because everything is temporary, including our financial environment and economy. My style of investing is called Long Term Buy and Hold. (LTBH). I didn’t make it up. I just use it. It is the anti-thesis of day-trading. My most encouraging investments were started over a decade ago. They are due.

I watch trends and I try to guess which way they’ll go, but I know they’ll take directions I can’t predict. New ideas rarely play by the old rules, and adaptation requires understanding the new more than the old because the old eventually passes away.

I expected to teach a class today, and run a workshop too. People signed up. Everyone cancelled. Maybe it’s the Sun’s fault. Yet, when my unexpected client walked in, he brought with him a conundrum that didn’t exactly fit with the class; but it did fit in nicely with a one-on-one strategy session, something I enjoy. A couple of hours later we were done, he had a plan, and I had a check. That check put my business over the top. As of that check, my business has already made more this year than it did on all of 2012. Hallelujah! At this rate, my business revenues are growing at 70% during a year when my expenses are down. At that rate, my business will be able to pay me more than enough by 2015. I’ll enjoy that but the mortgage company may not applaud that timing.

New ideas and changes to plans happen more rapidly than many can react. A retirement plan, honed for years, must be reassessed regularly as life, investments, and the world changes. (Watch Mike Brady’s videos for good descriptions of how that can be done.) My plan fell apart (at least apparently temporarily) within a few months two years ago. In perfect hindsight, an even quicker reaction would have meant a more comfortable present. That’s always the case. What I am glad about, despite my situation, is that my plan is flexible and that it had more than one element. Currently I am trying to sell my home, get a job, grow my business, and encourage my investments. I can develop plans based on a variety of scenarios, but it isn’t prudent to act until changes reveal themselves.

I planned to teach a class about publishing and ended up helping develop a business strategy. I didn’t plan for the unexpected, but I prepared myself so I could react.

Some indications are that the economy is returning to a new normal. Other indications are that the system’s oscillations are increasing and may lead to a collapse, whatever that may be. Planning for only one outcome produces a plan with poor odds of success.

Instead, I plan for long term goals and targets, and regularly adjust. I prefer to adjust at a slow and rational pace, something that works well with long afternoons considering possibilities while taking notes and sipping wine. Lately my plans are a bit rushed and flavored with spiced vodka and hope and energy.Cultus Drive deck and drink

There is great uncertainty in the world. A few of us are holding informal think tank sessions to sort through what we may do. I know we won’t come up with one answer. I want to keep my house, which I may do if finances return to normal soon enough. In some scenarios I lose my home and don’t have enough income to reach the poverty line, in which case finding a room with an understanding landlord would be a blessing. In some scenarios, my long term approach to investments may produce a recovery that lets me keep my home, and may even make it, or another home, comfortably self-sufficient. Acquiring self-sufficiency is one plan for disconnecting from the centralized turmoils. Each scenario, and several others, run through my head several times a day.

My client is also a friend. He, too, had a time when his plans seemed to have fallen apart and extrapolations were dire. And then he got “the” phone call. One change changed everything else for the better. That was a few years ago. Now, he is planning for the next thing; not in an attempt to firmly create a future, but to develop a plan that allows for flow, change, acceptance, and awareness. (Discretion keeps me from passing along more, but I hope he posts the pertinent links in the comments.)

As for me, I planned to do something else this afternoon. Instead, I’ll post this post, hit the deli to see if they have an after-five special, and then head out to two or three other events. You see, unexpectedly, a friend opened a gallery and is exhibiting my art; Light October Corduroy and unexpectedly, a friend and entrepreneur is hosting a party to celebrate their return to town; and, if I have time and energy, I’ll drop in on some friends playing music where a friend is tending bar where some of my other friends will be. But those are only my plans. Something even better may show up, and I want to be able to fit that into my plans.

About Tom Trimbath

consultant / entrepreneur / writer / photographer / speaker / aerospace engineer / semi-semi-retired More info at: https://trimbathcreative.wordpress.com/about/ and at my amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0035XVXAA
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One Response to Planning For Unexpected Futures

  1. Merri says:

    Very interesting blog today Tom. Congratulations on the new client and big check!

    Marilyn Merri Holman

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