4 Ways to Embrace Uncertainty


The thing that threw me the most about becoming a new Mum was the realisation that I had a real need to feel in control, and for life to be fairly predictable. I don’t do well when plans change at the last minute, which is tricky when tiny humans most definitely live by the beat of their own drum. They have no awareness of your adult responsibilities, or what you have planned for that day or minute. I have always found the uncertainty self-employment brings a challenge but being a Mother brings about a whole new level of feeling out of control. You simply can’t control the will of a baby or toddler. Whatever plans you have, you have to assume that they may have to change in an instant.

Why do we crave a degree of certainty and predictability in our lives? And what’s it got to do with career change anyway? I guess my situation has got me thinking about how, as humans, we fear uncertainty so much. We find the unpredictable nature of the world hard to stomach. We desperately try to control the little corners of our world, with very little success. Why can’t we just let go and see what happens?

When it comes to our careers, we stay in jobs we don’t like or enjoy, for fear of the unknown. We shy away from uncertainty. This keeps us risk-free, safe, and comfortable - but it also stunts our growth, limits our potential, and ultimately stops us from taking the opportunity to do something new and inspiring. We get trapped in our daily routines, wondering if this is all there is to life, simply because of a fear of change and trying something new.

So, if we’re desperate to make a change and step into the unknown, how can we overcome our deep desire to avoid uncertainty?

1. Believe in your abilities

What I’ve learned over the years is that nothing is the end of the world. Whatever feels like a disaster, you always find a way through it. Using past experiences, your strengths, abilities, resources etc, you always come out the other end. It might feel difficult and challenging at the time, but it’s worth recognising that you always have what it takes to deal with any outcome that’s thrown at you. You have more control than you think when it comes to determining the outcome too. Worried you won’t find a job in your chosen career? How have others done it? What will help you get there? What could your action plan look like? Take control of the outcome and believe in your abilities to make it happen. If others can do it, you can too.

2. Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable

Understand that it’s OK for things to feel hard and challenging. It’s a temporary state that will pass. As a society, we’re taught to avoid negative emotions and discomfort at all costs. Changing your perspective and being more OK with feeling uncomfortable, and patches of time when things feel challenging, can help you step out of your comfort zone. Discomfort is where growth and change happens. Embrace it rather than avoid it. It may be hard but it will be definitely worth it.

3. Manage your expectations

We get into trouble when we have rigid expectations of how things must or mustn’t be, or how people should or shouldn’t behave. The more flexible you can be with things not going quite as planned or desired, the easier it is to manage and work through the outcome. Recognise that any outcome is OK, and that it is these outcomes that make up our life experiences. Enjoy the journey, however that ends up looking, as opposed to focusing on it having to look like the exact end goal you expected. Life is full of plot twists - just enjoy the story!

4. Give people more credit

When things don’t go to plan, we often obsess over the impact on others. We worry what they will think or say if the plan changes. It’s worth remembering that people are much more understanding than you think. Whenever I’ve worried about letting someone down because of something that’s happened or changed, they have never been seriously annoyed for any considerable length of time. Want to leave your job? Your boss really won’t mind. Want to change career? Your parents will just want you to be happy. People are alright, really.

Ready to embrace uncertainty and change your career? Contact Alice to arrange an Introductory Session to discuss how she can help you identify your ideal career.

Alice Stapleton

About Alice

Alice coaches those who want to change career but don’t know what they want to do instead. She offers Career Coaching designed to help graduates, early to mid-level career-changers, and parents returning to work gain a clear vision of what career is right for them, and how to achieve it. She is also an accredited Coach Supervisor, and host of The Career Change Diaries podcast.