Many of Dan Ariely’s recent columns have focused on COVID-19 issues and his current one is no exception. Here’s a question a reader posed:
The holidays are right around the corner, but I’ve been hesitating to make plans to visit family or host a party. The changing Covid-19 situation means that any plan I make is likely to change or fall through, and I could end up really disappointed. Am I right that it’s better to wait and see what happens closer to Thanksgiving? —Michael
And here was Dan’s response:
It’s perfectly understandable that you’re wary about making plans. Many of the things we looked forward to in 2020 were disrupted by the pandemic, leaving us with a long list of disappointments. Nevertheless, making plans is important: It gives us something to look forward to, which is useful and important in itself. Instead of doing nothing, then, why don’t you make plans with built-in contingencies. For example, you could invite a small group of guests for an outdoor potluck on Thanksgiving, and say that if the weather is too cold or people are unwell, you’ll arrange a way to donate the food to the needy. We might end up not having the holiday we hoped for this year, but in general people bounce back from a change in plans much more easily than we deal with uncertainty about the future.
(I bolded what I thought were the two key points in Dan’s response).
I couldn’t agree more. I think there is value in planning while taking into account contingencies. I think planning this part of the fun and excitement. I never thought to think about it the way Dan puts it In terms of that it is easier to bounce back from a change in plans than to deal with uncertainty about the future, but it makes sense to me.
I also loved Dan’s idea of donating your food to the needy if your plans don’t work out.