Recommendations for dealing with uncertainty
Uncertainty. It's like a black hole that can swallow you alive. It's probably one of the most prominent challenges that I help my coaching clients deal with on a regular basis. It causes more worry, anxiety, and self-doubt than any other concern I have come across. It creates frustration and paralysis. It can take someone from bold and confident to neurotic and scared. I've seen it over and over and while the circumstances are always unique, the symptoms are the same:
- Something big happens to create a massive life shift (i.e. someone else got the promotion, you just got fired or bought out, your partner is going through a personal crises and decided to leave you, one of your most important employees just quit, etc.). Essentially, the rug just got pulled out from under you.
- Disorientation occurs where you try to figure out why this happened and what it all means. You replay the events over and over again in your mind and wrack your brain to figure out what you could have done or said differently and why you didn't see the writing on the wall earlier.
- A dark period takes place where you feel nervous and scared about the future and what it holds for you. You are worried about money, concerned about maintaining your lifestyle, not sure about your career path and wondering what people are saying about you.
- The confidence you wore previously, like a badge of honor on your chest, fades and is replaced with a cloud of uncertainty. You wonder if you will ever come back from this blow and if your past success was really just dumb luck to begin with. You don't know where you are going. You are in a spin cycle, churning alternatives that are all flawed, leaving you on an unlit path with many sudden and disturbing twists and turns on the road ahead.
Uncertainty can wreak havoc with the most self-assured. It takes strength and trained mental forbearance to deal with sudden circumstances that can ordinarily bring us to our knees. Here are some recommendations for dealing with uncertainty ...
- Use a journal to record your thoughts and emotions and to create a plan of action for moving forward.
- Revisit past instances of major life upheaval. What did you do at the time? How did you handle those circumstances? If you knew then what you know now, what kind of guidance would you give yourself? Where did you muster the strength to get through those experiences? How do those experiences relate or serve to help in this instance?
- If this were a movie and you could assign yourself a role and give yourself a character - who would you like to be in this drama? How would you like to ideally play this out?
- How is this experience an opportunity for dramatic personal growth? Professional growth? Relationship growth?
- What actions do you need to take to recover from this experience? What do you need to finish off or close down? What do you need to start or take on?
As a coach, my exposure to such a wide variety of circumstances that induce uncertainty has taught me this: all experiences, even if difficult, can be leveraged for growth. It's only those people who are willing to examine themselves with honesty and take full responsibility for their lives who are able to move forward from debilitating experiences in a powerful and exceptional manner. I have many clients who have experienced this transformation - I am privileged to get a front row seat in their development as it takes place.
Which areas of your life cause you the most uncertainty? Assess Your Frame of Mind to find out.
Kim Ades, MBA is president and founder of Frame of Mind Coaching and JournalEngine™ Software. Author, speaker, entrepreneur, coach, and mother of 5, Kim is one of North America’s foremost experts on performance through thought management. By using her unique process of coaching through journaling, she works with clients to unveil and switch their thought patterns to ignite significant change and life transformation. For a free online journal, visit www.frameofmindcoaching.com.