Universal Ethics

5. Expand Possibilities

At this stage, you will have identified some goals for the future, and some potential means to prepare for achieving those goals.

When trying to solve a problem, people have a tendency to adopt the first solution that comes to mind. If you can think of multiple ways to achieve the same outcome, then you are likely to pick a better (easier, cheaper, more effective) solution.

I use the term possibilities rather than alternatives. When you have alternatives, that implies that you must choose one from among them. However, in real life sometimes you can pursue more than one strategy at once, limited only by your resources (your time, money, skill, and assistance from others).

Particularly if you are facing a situation that is very challenging in your life, it is worthwhile to consider your options. For some parts of your plan, however, simple solutions are readily available and you don't necessarily have to do extensive planning around them. The intent here is not that you spend your whole life planning, but rather that you spend most of your life living! So, you need to apply a bit of common sense to how much detail to put into your plan, and where to focus your attention.

Up to now, you have identified goals and a set of stepping stones to get there, as well as potential consequences, associated eligibility or worthiness requirements, contingencies, etc. So at this stage, you repeat the previous step in order to identify at least one other potential series of stepping stones that would take you to your goal. Then you expand on this collection, in order to identify risks, side effects, and contingencies.

If this is a group initiative, you would plan each of these things in consultation with your planning participants.

In addition to identifying additional possibilities, here are some things to include for more thorough planning:/

Consider Side Effects

A good planner will consider the side effects of every decision. If by pursuing one goal, there is another outcome that will occur, the planner should put that in his (or her) plan too.

If you use the Pathways Planner app, you would record consequences to show the side effects. If you are planning using a piece of paper, you might draw the side effects onto your plan, and draw a line to link the "stepping stone" outcome with its side effect.

Consider Risks and Contingencies

Sometimes things just happen even though they were not caused by the decision maker. Often we say it is simply "nature" that is the cause when fires, floods, car accidents, and other such things happen.

To prepare for things that might go wrong, you can make a list of the most likely risks and put them in your plan as potential outcomes, each with an "unchosen" status. Also this is a good time to record what you would do if any of them happen. Those can also be recorded in the plan with an "unchosen" status, as a reminder of what you would do in the situation.

Check the Time and Cost

Now you have more than one way of achieving the same thing, but the possibilities don't necessarily all require the same effort. There may be differences in the time and cost that are required.

This is a good time to estimate the time and cost for each of the possibilities.

If you are using the Pathways Planner app, you can organize the various possibilities into "paths", so that each path holds a series of stepping stones to any desired outcome. You can quickly activate or deactivate paths, and run a report to recalculate the cost of your plan using any of the chosen paths.

Now you have everything you need to proceed to the next step, which is to plan a course of action.


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