Wildcards – Plan for the UNexpected

Wild cards are unlikely events that, were they to occur, will have a high impact on your life.

These are events that will be out of your control, that could massively impact you and those around you.


You can only PREPARE for, and REACT to these events.

Wild cards . . . "Low Probability, High Impact events that, were they to occur, would severely impact the human condition"
Out of The Blue – How to Anticipate Big Future Surprises

Read more here from Wikipedia


Mostly, we go about our day-in-day-out lives with some kinda plan for the next few days and weeks, with some longer plans for really important things – like holidays and parties 🙂

. . . then one day we realise that our comfy way of life could be shattered by some of external event.

Then what?  


Introducing the “Personal Contingency Plan”

A contingency plan is a written document that helps you to outline and prepare for possible wild card events and details how to respond if and when the event occurs.

  1. Identify the possible events – the risks
  2. Asses the probability of each risk, and prioritise each
  3. Develop a response plan for each risk


1. Identify the possible events – the risks

When thinking about the possible events, consider these aspects:-

  • Your physical environment. What in your immediate environment could be a danger to you? Extreme weather, fire potential, flooding, etc.
  • Consider your other environments:-
    • essential living items – food, medicine, water…
    • financial – available cash, liquidity…
    • biological – bio-hazards…
    • chemical – spills, pollution…
    • personal safety – risk to life or injury…
    • etc.  
  • Signals – what are the clues or signals to look out for? Things such as…
    • Another country is suffering through one of the wildcards you have identified
    • The news runs a story relating to one of your risks
    • One of your Google Alerts informs you
    • You notice that more people are discussing a certain issue
  • Degree of Probability – what do you think the probability is? Given that we’re discussing Wildcards, the probability is, initially, low. Also be aware that this Degree of Probability can increase dramatically as a wildcard event unfolds.


2. Asses the probability of each risk, and prioritise each

Prioritise each event by the Degree of Probability, and focus on those initially.


3. Develop a response plan for each risk

For planning, consider the following:

  • Reason – your reasoning for you plan. This helps clarify your thoughts
  • Impact Term – how long do you expect the impact of this wildcard be.
  • Immediate Response – what is the FIRST thing you will do if this Wildcard happens. Be very clear.
  • Scope of impact…
    • Who – who else is involved and is included in your plan
    • What – what is impacted, what is to be done
    • Where – where to go, where to meet, where to not to go
    • When – when to implement the plan 
    • Why – what is the reason, what is the rational
    • How – how long do you thing it will last, how long to to do something for (eg. self isolation) 

Lastly, share the Contingency Plan with the people around you than need to know. 

aka Black Swan events 

Wild cards are also known as Black Swan events, after the discovery that not all swans are white. 

Black Swan Theory : Wikipedia


  • Career/Work > The company I work for goes bankrupt
  • Family/Friends > Unexpected death of a loved one
  • Health/Fitness > Severe personal injury or illness
  • Money/Finances > Stock market crash, hacked web accounts
  • Environment > Severe weather, Social unrest, Pollution
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