January 31, 2023

Three Ways to Beat the Curse of Uncertainty

If there was ever any doubt about the importance of your ability to navigate change, uncertainty, and disruption, it’s now.

People are more committed to comfort than they are to change, especially given the fact that with change comes uncertainty.  Because our brains are hardwired to see uncertainty as a risk or threat, it’s physiologically normal to feel stress.

The most essential step toward becoming more skillful in dealing with the unknown is to understand and begin to accept that as much as we’d like it to be otherwise, almost nothing is certain.

Remember To H-A-L-T

When faced with an unexpected change or a challenging situation, I remember the words that a close friend once shared with me: “Never make a decision when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.” I call it the HALT Rule.

In short, when faced with uncertainty, don’t react. I know that this can be easier said than done.  However, taking a step back will provide you with an opportunity to look beyond the initial tide of emotions that can overwhelm you. This pause will empower you to effectively assess the situation and develop a sound forward strategy.

Here are three ways that you can turn the curse of uncertainty into an opportunity.

  1. Don’t Fret; Focus!

Do you fear the unknown or is your fear based more on what might happen?

According to countless studies, 85% of what we fear the most will never happen. I am not suggesting that your worst fears can’t become a reality, but spending time worrying about what might happen is a waste of energy.

Instead, when confronted with the unexpected, focus on assessing the situation and gathering the facts as to what is actually happening.

Here is how you can stop fretting and start focusing:

  • See the potential opportunities. Remember, with every closing door, there is an opening window.
  • Gain a “big picture” perspective by adopting an attitude of gratitude.  Acknowledging the things that are good in your life will create a sense of calm.
  • Seek advice from your coach, mentors and close friends. The perspective of trusted confidantes can help to ease your worst fears, by giving you an objective lens through which to view your situation.
  1. Adopt a Contingency Plan 

You know the old saying about failing to plan is planning to fail?

Clarify if your fear is generalized or grounded. For example, in September 2022, it was estimated that Hurricane Ian would make landfall in Florida, on either coast. I secured my property, removed all furniture from outdoors and prepared to operate without electricity. Yes, I was blessed because Hurricane Ian bypassed my home, but I knew my preparedness had been justified. I learned that there is comfort in foreknowledge, and empowerment in readiness.

The following steps will make certain that you are prepared to face almost any situation with a cool head, and a steady hand:

  • Diagnose the challenges you face. Do an honest assessment of your vulnerabilities. Where in your present situation are you most vulnerable in terms of a looming or present change?
  • Ask yourself: What are the three worst possible scenarios that could happen?  Then plan your response to each one. Think of it as being your personal fire drill that will guide you to safety in uncertain times.
  • Stay connected with your peers, your boss and anyone who has access to those in power to keep up to date on changes in the business political landscape and hidden agendas.
  1. Face Uncertainty With Confidence, Not Optimism

While you must retain a strong faith that you will ultimately prevail regardless of what you are facing, you must also confront the facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

  • Practice kindness and compassion whenever possible – first towards yourself as well as others.
  • Debunk the need to be perfect. Perfectionism in uncertain times can be debilitating.  Aim for progress, expect mistakes, and recognize that you can continually course correct as needed.
  • Manage your destiny. Whatever happens, there is a purpose, and it will ultimately work to your benefit if you can see that your experience helps you to build the gift of resilience.

In the end, my advice to you is not to fear the unknown, but to challenge it and embrace your bigger future, even if that future isn’t what you had originally envisioned.

I would love to hear your thoughts!


Share This Post