Dealing with Uncertainty: 8 Ways to Manage it Effectively

We all experience periods of uncertainty in our lives, work, and businesses at some time.

Sometimes it is triggered by our own choices, like choosing to create a significant change that is important to you. It can happen during transitions as you move from one chapter and stage of life to another. And it is commonly triggered by circumstances or events beyond your control. For example, things like a global pandemic, an economic downturn impacting your business, losing a job, becoming an empty nester, navigating a relationship breakdown, etc.  

Whatever the cause of your feelings of uncertainty, how you deal with it will have a big impact on the outcome.

But dealing with uncertainty effectively is often easier said than done. That is because it feels extremely uncomfortable. It can make you feel stressed, out of control, stuck, and trigger paralysing feelings of fear. And when you feel like that, it is easy to fall into the trap of taking no action or retreating to the status quo (even if the status quo isn’t what you want).

When this happens, it helps to have some practical ways to help you deal with uncertainty effectively. Here are a few to help you get started:

  1. Become solution focused. The more you focus on the uncertainty the harder it is to navigate, and the less likely you are to take action to deal with it effectively. Stop focusing on it. Switch your focus to identifying solutions.    
  1. Don’t retreat. What you don’t deal with persists. Retreating from the situation won’t resolve anything. It will only prolong the pain. To get past uncertainty you need to step into the discomfort, not away from it. And if that feels hard, keep in mind that the permanent pain of staying stuck is far worse than the temporary pain of creating change. 
  1. Stop dwelling on the things that aren’t within your sphere of influence and control. It is a waste of your time and energy. It resolves nothing. It doesn’t move you forward. It can keep you feeling stuck. Stay focused on the things that are within your sphere of influence and control.  
  1. Manage your emotions. Your emotions can set you up to succeed or sabotage you. That is because they have a significant impact on things like your decision making, behaviour, and the actions you do or don’t take. Identify the things that will help you to navigate and manage the specific emotions you are experiencing in a way that helps and supports you deal with your situation effectively.     
  1. Build a support network. Feelings of uncertainty can become amplified if you are in your own head all the time. Seek out appropriate support and help. Talk about it with someone you trust. 
  1. Protect your mental and physical energy. Periods of uncertainty can feel enormously draining. Identify the things that boost your energy and do more of them. Identify things that are draining your energy and deal with them. Create a self care programme to look after yourself properly and will help you reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. It will help you cope better as you navigate a way forward.   
  1. Don’t believe everything you think. Be aware of the stories you are telling yourself. Check if they are helping you or hindering you. In uncertain times, it is easy to dwell endlessly on the worst case scenarios. Whilst it can be helpful to consider worst case scenarios and have a plan to deal with them should they occur, just make sure you don’t dwell on them. 
  1. Hang on tight to your sense of humour. Light moments during difficult times can be a real tonic.

The bottom line:

Whilst uncertainty is a part of life, work, and business at times, you get to choose whether to be a passive passenger of the situation or the driver. Choose wisely. Your outcome will be heavily influenced by which option you choose.  

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