Can you be ready for anything BEFORE a crisis hits?
Today my friend Kathi Lipp, who has written for us before and who has graciously hosted me on her podcast many times, joins us to talk about how to get ready for a crisis before that crisis actually hits. Her new book, Ready for Anything, launched early because it was such a timely word for couples, and she wrote some encouragement for us to use this time well! Here’s Kathi:
Since the term Covid-19 entered our vocabulary, there has been a lot of talk about what we all should have done to be prepared for just such an emergency.
But, that’s a little like receiving a diploma before you go to college. Being prepared would have been great, but here we are, needing to deal with the next crisis that will come along. Because crises are rude that way, (when they crash your party, they always bring another uninvited crisis along with them).
And as much as I want you to be stocked up on food, water and toilet paper for the next emergency; today, I’m more concerned about the emotional toll a crisis can take on you and your marriage.
Emergencies—whether a car accident, a child’s trip to the hospital, an unexpected bill, or even a global pandemic—not only strain each of us individually but can put a toll on our relationships as well.
One of the best tools my husband and I developed is our “5 Minute Plan.” Not only has this helped us weather a lot of different (and unexpected) storms, it has been a safe space-holder. It has provided a time-frame and a non-threatening way to talk about our differences and our varied (sometimes heightened) responses to emergencies. This has helped us support each other while respecting our unique needs, even while storm clouds gather.
How the 5 Minute Plan Works
Here is how the “5 Minute Plan” works:
Before you and your spouse are in an emergency, talk through what each of you will need in the first five minutes after a crisis hits or you receive bad news.
One of the first “5 Minute Plans” my husband Roger and I talked through was what if Roger loses his job? (I’m self-employed, so my work crisis would look different.)
This was a hard scenario to discuss; actually, hard might be an understatement. But, here is what I’ve discovered, having the hard conversation when there is no crisis, is so much easier than when you’re in the midst of what feels like an impossible situation. My father was chronically unemployed when I was a child and my first husband lost his job several times during our marriage. Before the “5 Minute Plan,” my reaction to the news of Roger losing his job would have been to panic and spin out of control, which, would have helped no one. I know my heightened reaction, no matter how unintentional, would hurt Roger with the wrong words at the wrong time.
Now, our “5 Minute Plan” has helped Roger and I pre-decide how we will react in a crisis. Already talking about this scenario has taken much of the fear and panic out of this possibility. We have decided to do these three things in the first five minutes:
Our “Roger Losing His Job” 5-Minute Plan:
1. Roger and I will pray together about the situation.
2. Roger will reassure me that we have planned for this possibility and will work on our financial numbers to decide what our next steps will be.
3. I will start to cancel any payments, subscriptions, etc. that aren’t necessary to save as much cash as we possibly can until we know about Roger’s next job step.
It’s a simple plan, but it has a lot of benefits:
1. It prevents panic while inviting a place for peace. Without a plan, my first impulse is to freak out – which doesn’t help anyone around me, including my husband.
2. It gives me a non-threatening way to express my needs. I’m an expert at knowing how my husband should have responded to me in an emergency. The problem? How do I let him know that in advance of an unforeseeable crisis? I have found I can be so much better in an emergency when I let him know in advance what I need.
3. I can also support my spouse better by knowing what he needs. When I try to comfort Roger with how I would want to be comforted, I miss the mark each time. But if I can let my data-driven husband do his thing (run the numbers, listen to the scanners to find out if the fires are heading our way, etc.) it can help him find his own measure of peace in a hard situation.
How to Create Your Own 5 Minute Plan
Here is how to create a plan for what you want to do in the first five minutes of a crisis:
1. Discuss your most likely crisis scenario. For most of us, it will be a job loss, but you may have some special circumstances: maybe, like us, you live in a high fire-risk area, or like my friend Diane, have a child with complicated medical needs. You know what your most likely situation will be.
2. Ask your spouse if you can discuss what you both want to see happen in those first five minutes.
3. Make a list of what each of your roles will be and what each of you’ll need emotionally to ease any rising panic.
Do you want to be prepared for any crisis to come in the future? See Kathi Lipp’s timely book Ready for Anything; Preparing Your Home for Any Crisis Big or Small When you order before May 19th, you’ll also receive a free e-course download of Kickstart to Clutter Free, and the ebooks Cooking During a Crisis, and the 5-Day Family Curriculum for Crisis Preparation. Get these offers, and other resources at Kathi’s website.