In uncertain times, to also have uncertainty about your job seems like a double whammy. For many, uncertainty is equal to danger and ties into the fear of the unknown. This is your brain’s way of protecting you; the fight or flight kicks in with uncertain situations to prepare you to take action. But it also creates anxiety and stress, more so than if the worst actually happened, because that perpetual state of anticipating any situation is exhausting. It taxes you mentally, emotionally, and soon physically if something isn’t done to interrupt the cycle.
The thing is that no matter how good you are at controlling things in your life, there are things that come up that you can’t control. And for someone who is a control freak (I’m there with you, although I say recovering control freak at this point), that can be a very stressful problem. You may not know that you’re doing it either because it is an automatic response to situations after years of training yourself to be that way.
Your first step is to become conscious of when you are responding this way to a situation. Here are some indicators to help your self-awareness kick in and say, “Oh, gee. That’s me.”
- You are over-thinking and “Rubix-cubing” a situation to try to get it to work out the way you want.
- You are trying to force others outside of you to react a certain way, either overtly or covertly.
- You feel deep frustration or anxiety because you can’t find the “right” answer.
When it comes to uncertainty at work, it can really kick it up a notch! We work for a reason and have financial responsibilities to cover. We require money to live and take care of ourselves and our families. So when uncertainty factors in, it can take up more mental space in our lives. Will there be layoffs? Will the company be downsized or close? Will my position be eliminated?
Or, what if you are deeply dissatisfied with where you are in your career right now, but you stay because at least you still have a paycheck. After all, you don’t want to deal with the uncertainty, right? Um, perhaps not, especially if it’s starting to affect your home or your health.
Uncertainty gets a bad rap in many respects because I feel it’s an opportunity in disguise. It’s an opportunity to get unstuck, explore new possibilities, and uplevel your career and life to have more fulfillment and fun while creating financial stability!
What can you do instead? I’m glad you asked! Here are 3 areas that you can focus on to turn uncertainty into your advantage.
If the current situation isn’t what you want, then what do you want instead? For instance, if you fear being let go from your current job or stressing not getting the promotion, you are focused on what you actually don’t want to happen. What do you want to have instead? Are there conversations that you can have with your manager? Are there people in your network that you can connect with? Is there something else that you’d like to do that you can explore? Make a list of as many things as you can think of that would be possibilities for you. The key here isn’t to judge what comes to you; it’s to be entirely open and consider all options, no matter what you think about them. Whatever pops into your mind goes on the list. The goal becomes creating the biggest list possible!
We can get caught up in our heads a lot! A story we create with the faculty of our imagination can take on a life of its own and slide down a slippery slope in a hurry and leave us in a worse state than when we started! Mindfulness practices can do a lot to calm down our lizard brains and lead us to a calmer state where our thinking is much clearer. Consider meditation, and if you think you stink at it, consider the multitude of apps like Headspace, Insight Timer, or Calm, which can teach you how to do it and even guide you through meditations to bring you to an improved mental state.
Mindfulness can also be as easy as making a cup of tea or coffee and becoming aware of each step and sensation along the way. You feel your hand on the cupboard door. You see the cup and feel yourself picking up. Smell the coffee in the coffee as it brews and be fully present for each sip, knowing that your thoughts will wander and you only need to nudge your mind back toward being present gently.
When you consistently pull yourself back to the present moment, you train your brain to stay there more often, which means less anxiety because you’re not taking the crazy ride down the slippery slope of your “what if” stories.
Do something about it. Once you’ve considered new possibilities, whether they have come from your brainstorming or the quiet, your mind so desperately seeks, take action. What are small steps you can take to move in that direction? Make a call? Book a meeting? Maybe it’s just investigating a website. No matter how small, do something every day to take you toward where you want to be because it’s not the big sweeping change you make that moves you forward the furthest; it’s the small, consistent ones that you do every day!
What can you do today?
Until next time, here’s wishing you the Clarity you deserve!