Finding Comfort in Uncertainty When Your Goals Are on the Line

Jensen Ackles

I used to be scared of uncertainty; now I get a high out of it.


The Reasons Why You Fear Uncertainty

Fear of uncertainty is the act of worrying and stressing about an unknown future or about unforeseen events and circumstances that life throws your way.

The reason why you fear uncertainty is because you have limited experience in certain life areas. With limited experience, there is limited perspective, and so you jump to conclusions and make assumptions and generalizations about how life is or should be, and as a result you become uncertain of outcomes that may result if you take action in that direction.

Uncertainty grows even more prominent when you lack the knowledge, understanding, and resources that would allow you to get a specific job or task done. You simply don’t feel that you have all the answers, and so you become uncertain and hesitant to take action.

At other times you simply just don’t have the necessary support required that would provide you with the certainty you need to move forward. You must, therefore, gain the necessary experience, knowledge, understanding, resources and support you need in a specific area of your life, and you will then also gain the confidence and certainty required to get the job or task accomplished.

Uncertainty can also result from the fact that you simply do not ask solution focused questions that will help you find the answers you need to move forward with confidence. By taking the time to ask solution focused questions about the uncertainty you are feeling, you can gain the necessary understanding and perspective you need to move forward.

The Benefits of Uncertainty

Living with uncertainty is beneficial because it keeps you on the edge — constantly growing and developing yourself as you encounter new experiences that you’re unfamiliar with. In fact, the long-term success and happiness you experience in life is directly proportional to the level of uncertainty you are able to manage comfortably, or in other words the amount of risk you are able and willing to take and live with on a daily basis.

The Fear of Uncertainty


Preparing for Uncertainty

Even though uncertainty is often full of surprises, there are however certain things you can do that will help you prepare for those moments in your life when you will need to step into the unknown. Here are several suggestions:

Embrace Uncertainty

First of all, our natural tendency is to resist moments of uncertainty by holding onto what’s comfortable and secure. However, to truly gain value from uncertainty you must learn to embrace it without hesitation. Don’t fight uncertainty. Accept it as a natural part of life – something you cannot escape from. Therefore instead of resisting it, learn to proactively manage it.

To accept uncertainty requires that you understand that life is constantly shifting and changing. These shifts will bring about a variety of outcomes — some that you will feel comfortable with, while others you will struggle with. Accepting this as a natural part of life will help you to begin embracing the uncertainty that life throws your way.

However, to fully embrace uncertainty you will need to cultivate courage, excitement, adventure, playfulness and curiosity. These characteristics will help you to step into the unknown with confidence and self-belief that you can handle anything that life dishes your way.

Embrace Not Knowing

Not knowing what’s out there or what you might confront as you step out on your journey can certainly be scary. However, it’s only scary because you are not comfortable with not knowing what will happen or what you will do in response to certain events and circumstances.

It’s perfectly okay that you don’t know. You will never have all the answers, and often the most valuable learning experiences come from simply taking action and adapting your approach as you make progress along your journey. The most important thing is to take that first step.

To help you begin feeling more comfortable with not knowing, ask yourself:

How is my need to know affecting my life in a positive and negative way?

Why do I need to know what’s hiding around the corner?

How can not knowing be beneficial?

Build Strong Support Network

When you have a strong support network helping you out, you will gain the necessary knowledge and emotional guidance you need to move into uncertain territory along your journey towards your desired outcomes.

You must, therefore, form close bonds and friendships with people from all walks of life that may be able to help and support you during times of uncertainty.

Invest in Yourself

One of the best ways to prepare for uncertainty is to begin investing time, energy and money into yourself.

Invest in yourself by gaining practical experience, by expanding your knowledge, by developing new skills, and by strengthening your mindset.

The more often you focus on developing and growing these areas, the better prepared you will be, and the more certain you will become when unexpected events crop up or difficult choices need to be made.

Manage Stress Levels

Expect with confidence that when you’re confronted with uncertainty that your stress levels will go through the roof.

When your stress levels are high, it will be difficult for you to make effective decisions that you need to make to help you step into uncertain territories and attain your desired outcomes. As such, you must learn to better manage your stress levels. You can do this by taking Yoga classes, by exercising regularly, through meditation and visualization techniques, by journaling or sketching, or by taking the time to consciously manage and control your breathing.

Living for Today

It’s pretty much impossible to fear uncertainty when you are living for today. However, most people are thinking about tomorrow, and tomorrow brings with it uncertainty, and this, therefore, scares the heck out of them, and as a result, they fail to take the necessary actions that will help them step out of their comfort zones and move towards their desired outcomes. You must not follow this path and instead live only for today — for this moment.

There is no uncertainty in the moment. Uncertainty only exists in the future.

Preparing to Face Uncertainty


Creating Certainty

One of the best ways to handle uncertainty is to consciously create more certainty in your life. Your goal here is to add more certainty to the possible uncertainty that life will bring your way. Here are some suggestions to help you do this:

Prepare in Advance

Take the time to think about and consider all the possible scenarios that could eventuate in the future from a specific decision or action you are about to take. Consider all the different possibilities and outcomes that may result and how you will handle them.

The more thoroughly you think about the possibilities here, the more confidence you will have, and the more effectively you will handle any events and circumstances that may come your way. Ask yourself:

What could potentially result from making this decision or taking this action?

How will I respond to these circumstances?

Plan for the Worst

Murphy’s law states that anything that could go wrong, will go wrong, at the worst possible time, all at once when you least expect it. If you don’t keep this law in mind as you are stepping onto the path of uncertainty, then of course unexpected things are likely to pop up and you might not be prepared to handle them.

You must therefore plan for the worst possible scenarios ahead of time, and jot down how you will handle them if ever things go wrong. Ask yourself:

What’s the worst that could happen if I take action?

What’s the worst that could happen if I don’t take action?

What will I do about it?

Likewise, it’s also important to be very specific and consider roadblocks that could prevent you from taking action in the first place. Ask yourself:

What could prevent me from taking action?

How will I overcome these obstacles?

Expect the Best

Cultivate optimism and expect the best. When you expect the best, this will give you the confidence to overcome your fears and step into the unknown. Yes you might end up falling flat on your face and making a terrible mistake. But in the end, you will be much closer to your outcome having taken positive action, then having taken no action at all. Ask yourself:

What are the possibilities?

What are the opportunities?

What things could work in my favor if I took this action?

Create Plan of Action

Replace any expectations that you may have with a written and tangible plan of action. A plan of action will help you to iron out all the details and will allow you to fit everything together into a concrete actionable structure. Ask yourself:

What do I want?

How will I pursue it?

What will I do first?

What will I do next?

Focus on Short-term Solutions

Uncertainty is in the future. In fact the further ahead you look, the more uncertain the future becomes. You must, therefore, focus on short-term solutions, and on the things, you can do right now at this very moment that will help you to move forward along your journey.

Focus on What You Can Control

Uncertainty could very well overwhelm you the moment you feel as though you’ve lost control over the events you are working through.

You most likely won’t be able to control external circumstances or people, however, during moments such as these, you must remember that you do have full control over your thoughts, over your decisions, over your emotional responses, over the way you talk to yourself, and over how you perceive your external world.

By focusing on, and maintaining control over these areas, will help you to make better and more effective decisions moving forward no matter how much external uncertainty you are working through.

If you are feeling as though you simply need to control external events, people, and circumstances, then take the time to ask yourself:

Why do I feel like I need to control this?

How can not being in control be beneficial?

How to Create Certainty


Moving into Uncertainty

Having prepared yourself mentally for uncertainty, you are now ready to take positive action into the unknown. Here are some suggestions to help you along this exciting journey:

Take Immediate Action

The longer you delay taking positive action, the more likely you are to succumb to procrastination, perfectionism or stagnation. Don’t hesitate. Be proactive and take positive action using small consistent steps as soon as possible.

The steps you take today into the unknown — into uncertainty — will provide you with new experiences, new knowledge and wisdom you will have moving into tomorrow. And every day you take further action will reward you with even more experiences, knowledge, and wisdom, which will provide you with even more confidence and momentum moving forward. Things might not get easier or less certain, but you will be much further ahead then if you were to take no action at all.

Expect the Unexpected

Unless you’re mentally prepared for the unexpected, you will never really feel comfortable along your journey. Therefore expect that unexpected things will occur and that you will continue to experience uncertainty of some sort along the way.

Keep planning for the worst, but at the same time stay in the present moment and focus on short-term solutions that will help you to move one more step forward. With this expectation close at hand you will be better prepared and able to handle anything that life decides to throw your way.

Consider Different Perspectives

Along your journey if you suddenly feel overwhelmed with uncertainty and feel tempted to crawl back into your comfort zone — it’s during times such as these that it’s important to keep your feet grounded and not allow yourself to be taken on an emotional roller coaster ride.

During these moments you might not see the light through the trees, however other people might. Take into account other people’s perspectives of the situation and what you’re going through. Their insights might very well provide you with the guidance you need to get through difficult moments along your journey. Ask yourself or others:

How would other people perceive this?

What would they do in my situation?

What must I do next to keep moving forward?

Taking Action to Eliminate Uncertainty

Things to Avoid at all Costs

When it comes to handling moments of uncertainty, it’s absolutely critical that you avoid the following things at all costs:

  • Avoid destructive self-talk and thoughts. Pessimism will only dishearten you and push you right back into your comfort zone.
  • Avoid obsessing about the unknown. Perceive the unknown as a place of opportunity and excitement, and not a deep dark abyss of fire and spikes.
  • Avoid worrying about what you can’t control. If you can control something, then do something about it. If you can’t control it, then there is no point in worrying about it.
  • Avoid reacting emotionally to sudden changes. Unexpected things will occur that will push you right out of your comfort zone. It is important during these moments to remember that you are in full control of your emotional responses. You can respond in productive or destructive ways. The choice is yours to make.
  • Avoid trying to play it safe. Unless you are willing and able to take risks, then you will fail to fully capitalize on the opportunities that uncertainty can provide you with.
  • Avoid trying to resist change. Change is inevitable. It is the one thing that you can bet on will happen. Therefore stop resisting change, and instead embrace the opportunities it brings your way.

Time to Assimilate these Concepts

Embracing Uncertainty

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Adam is a life coach, mind mapper, doodler and visual thinker. He founded IQ Matrix in 2009 and has created over 350 self-growth mind maps. He also has a Free 40 Day How to Doodle Course where he teaches how to doodle using simple daily lessons. Read more about Adam's story, and how he created the concept for IQ Matrix. Feel free to also get in touch and send Adam a message here.