VUCA Now More Than Ever

Some time ago I discussed the concept of VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous), and it seems to apply now more than ever.  Doesn’t the world seem crazier every day? The only constant is change. The way we work, communicate, and recreate is vastly different than even a few weeks ago. All of this change can seem overwhelming. Making day-to-day choices often feels more complicated, sometimes to the point of paralyzing indecision.  

In a VUCA world, how should one react when making legal, tax, and financial decisions? Should you just put all your money in a mattress for fear that the next big stock market or real estate bubble will pop? In so doing, you’ll likely miss out on the growth and income that you’ll need to plan for your future.  

Should you go ahead and write that will or trust? Every time that you read the newspaper it seems that the tax laws are changing, and the world is in peril. If you spend a lot of money creating that perfect estate plan, will you have to spend another king’s ransom the next time Congress changes the law? 

Should you wait out the VUCA and act when things become more stable? I’m here to tell you that we’re having to adapt to a new normal, and the key is to not become overwhelmed and instead focus on what’s stable in your life. 

Hopefully you have a stable family situation. You might have a supportive spouse and children. You’ve worked hard and accumulated savings. Perhaps you’re working and enjoy helping others. Friends can provide yet another steady beacon. I’m sure that you can name a host of other fulfilling examples that stabilizing your life in an otherwise VUCA world. 

Looking closely, you’ll likely find that the VUCA part of your world is that over which you have no control, and largely affects everyone in our society, like the COVID-19 pandemic 

But what’s volatile and uncertain can often have a silver lining, providing us new tools, technology and comforts that were unimaginable only a few years ago. That doesn’t mean that you’re not forced to constantly adapt, but what’s wrong with that? It keeps life interesting. 

Taking this attitude it becomes easier to break down the complex and ambiguous into bite-sized morsels. Things are not likely to fall apart as badly as web news sources and the media report. They have to attract eyeballs so news today tends to sensationalize. While it’s fine to be alert and vigilant, there’s no benefit to wringing your hands in constant worry. Worry, after all, is nothing more than using your mind to imagine a bad future. Why not instead imagine a bigger, bolder, and better future for yourself and your loved ones? 

Quickly you realize that inaction is worse than action. Rather than navigating today’s complexities alone, you always have the option of building a team of experts around you that can assist in navigating uncertain waters. 

Don’t wait for the next tax law to be passed before completing your estate plan. God forbid that you don’t have an up-to-date plan and something terrible happens to you. Plans can adapt as the laws change, and if you have an estate that currently isn’t above $11.58 million, federal estate taxes aren’t going to be a problem anyway. A good estate plan can, however, provide comfort and security for your family. 

Most of my client’s plans, even those who have larger estates, focus on providing a solid foundation in the event of the client’s disability and to use the hard earned wealth and assets to protect a surviving spouse and provide for children and grandchildren. Even in a VUCA world, these are basic desires that don’t change much over time. Fortunately, there are better trusts and methods today to provide for your loved ones as never before. 

So embrace the changes. We live in extraordinary times. Our ancestors would be jealous of what many of us consider everyday conveniences. VUCA be damned  go boldly into the future! Life will likely become more enjoyable with such an attitude.  

© 2020 Craig R. Hersch. Originally published in the Sanibel Island Sun.