One of the most wonderful and terrifying, things about life is that we have no idea how it is going to turn out. We get sick or injured. People we love die. The economy crashes. Spouses leave. A business partner runs away with our money. We take a big risk to be creative in our presentation and fail miserably, in public.
Because the world is unstable and unpredictable, uncertainty, fear, and doubt are inevitable parts of building your body of work. Managing fear and uncertainty is core to thriving and surviving in this environment.
While it is normal for people to get depressed or afraid about the unknown, the key is to keep moving forward by focusing on the future. If you focus on what you want in your life instead of what you don’t want, you’ll see your opportunities expand. Paralyzed with fear? Learn to flip on your winner switch.
In order to develop resilience in the face of fear and uncertainty, you need four skills.
Skill #1: View adversity as a means of growth
No matter the severity of the challenge you are facing, ask yourself these questions: This experience is:
- preparing me to do great work.
- preparing me to be a smarter, kinder, or more compassionate person.
- teaching me exactly what I need to know so I can create better, more effective work.
- reminding me of what my true, natural strengths are and aren’t.
- pushing me to make an urgent decision about something that is critical to my well-being.
- teaching me what I need to get help with, outsource, or stop doing.
Skill #2 :Diagnose your fear
Your fear shares critical information with you multiple times a day. We are often encouraged to “crush the fear,” “ignore the fear,” or “stomp on fear.” I prefer to surf the fear. The protective instinct of your lizard brain can help you develop tremendous awareness and a healthy, motivated attitude toward your success. When you are gripped by fear, you need to slow down and process the emotion in the rational part of your brain. Try to talk through your fears with a compassionate person.
If that’s not possible, write down the answers to these questions:
- What are you afraid of?
- Why are you afraid of it?
- What do you need to know to reduce the fear?
- If you were to practice this thing that you are afraid of doing, would it get better?
- Is this thing you are afraid of something that is negative or unhealthy for you, or a positive opportunity for growth?
- If this is a positive opportunity for growth, who do you know who might be able to help you overcome your fear?
Step #3:Process the unexpected
While in the midst of a huge, painful challenge, it is impossible to imagine a new future. You want to slug anyone who suggests that “everything happens for a reason.” Yet over and over again, I have seen people rise from huge heartbreak and build a new life.
Step #4: Overcome distress and procrastination
If there is one thing I have learnt for sure in the past few years is that, with the right motivation and drive, people can make astounding, unexpected, nearly miraculous change. So if you have been stuck in an unfulfilling career for years, if you have wanted to write a book but never get to it, if you want to stop smoking, get in shape, or repair your fractured relationship with your ex-husband/ wife so that you can both be better parents, please know that it is possible to change. You just have to develop ways to quickly shift your mind-set when you get stuck