How to Make Navigating Uncertainty Fun

As an elementary school teacher, my days consisted of lesson plans, laughter, and inquisitive questions by ten-year-olds. But when I hit burnout, I decided to make a change. I woke up to find myself in a cubicle with coffee and my computer, by myself with my thoughts.

At first, I was overjoyed by the silence. But as time wore on, I felt a twisting sensation of anxiety and a dull panic accompanied by an ever-whispering question: What do you want?

Truth be told, I had no idea.

I started calling it the fog of uncertainty. I became obsessed with how we navigate through times of extra not knowing.

Sometimes uncertainty arises from external events like a storm. Our partner gets a job in a different city and we move, or we lose a job and it changes our world.

Other times, uncertainty is like the current in the ocean. It’s internal and below the surface. A thought, a doubt, or a fear creeps across our mind and suddenly, we’re unsure about how to go on.

When life feels uncertain and we can’t see around the corner, many of us have a habit of getting anxious. This is normal, because our brains are designed to be mindless. For example, you don’t have to think about when to take your next breath while you’re reading this: your brain naturally does so. You’re not concentrating on sending enough blood to your extremities; it’s just happening! If we had to think through everything that our bodies needed to do, we’d never get to the loving and learning parts of life. However, even these happen without us thinking about them.

Because of that, when our brain happens across a circumstance that it doesn’t have previous data for, it panics a little bit.

The trick is to play with uncertainty. When you feel like you are drowning in “what if” or “what might have been,” reframe so that you’re playing with “what is possible.”

Choose an innocuous statement and then try three different types of responses. Let your brain shut it down and notice how you stop yourself when you’re feeling uncertain.

Try on your “NO”
  • I’m writing a blog for Ringlet Market.
  • No, I can’t write my blog for Ringlet Market because I have too many deadlines on my plate right now.
  • No, I can’t write my blog for Ringlet Market because I’m having writer’s block.
  • Etc.
Then try “Yes, but…”
  • I’m going for a run today.
  • Yes, I’d like to run today, but I don’t have enough room in my schedule because I don’t have enough time.
  • Yes, I’d like to run today, but I don’t have any clean workout clothes.
  • Etc.
Then “YES, AND!”
  • I’m writing a blog for Ringlet Market.
  • I’m writing a blog for Ringlet Market AND I’m going to include an improv game.
  • Yes, I’m writing a blog for Ringlet Market and I’m going to include an improv game AND I’m super excited to talk about navigating uncertainty.
  • Yes, I’m super excited to talk about navigating uncertainty AND to tell people that it’s NORMAL so we learn to PLAY instead of get anxious.

We often have to see all the ways that we are saying “No” before we can play with our “Yes!”

Where can you play with a “Yes, AND!” in your life right now?

To your blazing YES,

Jess

This post was originally published on JessicaLeighLyons.com and shared with permission.

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Jessica Leigh Lyons is a seeker & facilitator of joy with young professionals and one of Bossed Up’s featured Bootcamp Trainers. She is a Certified Life Coach through the International Coaching Academy and holds a masters degree in education from the University of Colorado, Denver as well as a bachelor of arts in international relations from the University of Delaware. With a decade of varied experience teaching & leading youth in a multitude of learning modalities, she has been coaching young professionals since 2013.