In order to grow and change, try the uncomfortable task of embracing uncertainty.
Have you ever watched a friend or family member go through a significant desired life change, such as relocating, going back to school, or adopting a child? When someone makes a choice to change something drastically, there is a period of uncertainty that follows as events unfold. The person gives up some control over the specific manner in which things will play out while keeping their intentions and purpose clear. Do you recall how your friend or family member handled the uncertainty?
Uncertainty is a fundamental part of transformation and growth. Yet most of us have a strong inclination to run from it. We prefer to stay within known territory, where we understand the dynamics, expectations, and boundaries. Even when a known way of life no longer serves us well, we have a hard time budging from our comfortable surroundings.
Here are three strategies to keep from becoming frozen in your world of certainty when what you really want is change and growth.
- Visualize your desired future in living color. Start by stating your intention, such as “I intend to be in a work environment that allows me to use my greatest skills and talents.” Then make a list of all the ways in which you will benefit from the change. Also consider the sacrifices you’ll need to make, so you can create realistic expectations. Now visualize yourself in the future as if you’ve taken a time machine to the point in your life where you have crossed to the other side of your desired change. Really burn that image into your head, as if it’s a dream that seemed too real the next morning. When you focus on the outcome and not the process for getting there, it can be easier to navigate the problems that will surface along the way. After all, you already know you’re going to make it!
- Enlist specific friends and family. The support of your friends and family can have a large impact on your ability to handle the uncertainties that come with entering new territory. The impact can be positive or negative, however, depending on the disposition of the individual. Surround yourself with individuals who want you to succeed and will help you navigate the situations that you encounter along the way. When you can call in the troops for emotional, strategic, tactical support, you will falter less and recover your strength more easily.
- Pay attention to your internal conversations. When you think about a possible change, it typically triggers a dialog in your head. You mind races through scenarios and, based on past experience, considers likely outcomes. For example, you’d love to ask out the person you’ve gotten to know in your spin class, but it could result in rejection, something that implodes after two months of quality dating, or a commitment that you may not think you are ready for. The dialog in your head should also include all the possible great outcomes! The person might say yes, you might have many months of fun and companionship, and you might find that you are ready for a commitment and enjoy letting a relationship develop. By balancing out all the possible outcomes, you begin to see that you get to choose your focus! Develop internal dialogs that are positive and you will find yourself more energized and more motivated to move forward, despite the uncertainty.
You have undoubtedly succeeded in navigating new territory in the past. Recall those experiences and the associated confidence, support from others, and internal dialog. Recreate that successful framework again and dive into your new territory! I know you’ll come out on the other side wiser, stronger, and with a deeper sense of fulfillment in your life.