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Certainty. We crave it. When we find ourselves in an uncomfortable, ambiguous situation, we react with anxiety and fear.
When you start a new job or start a new business, the uncertainty can be daunting. You don’t know where your new venture is headed, and failure is a real possibility. Personally, when I left a federal government position to become an entrepreneur, I was petrified initially–freaked out and paralyzed by the lack of clarity regarding the path ahead.
A craving for total certainty sometimes dooms relationships as well. If you want to know that you and your (future) spouse will sync up on all levels—money, religion, sexuality, interests, priorities—for the rest of our lives, you will wait forever. Such an approach is just not realistic. It attempts to force things into a box and leaves no room for organic growth.
Strive for Internal Balance Despite A Lack of Certainty
If you wait for total certainty to have self-confidence and pursue your dreams, you will wait forever. But I have good news. Once you realize that you are craving a level of certainty that is not realistic, you can adapt and calm down. Here are some strategies to get your emotions and reactions under control:
- Acknowledge that you are uncertain. Tell someone. You don’t need to make it into a big drama, but just acknowledging this lets the steam out.
- Accept that ambiguity is part of life. Some situations are by their nature ambiguous. The start of relationships. The first year(s) of an entrepreneurial venture. The reaction of the public to an artistic endeavor. Recognize and accept that ambiguity is just part of the game.
- Imagine your life without fear. Just imagining yourself and the actions you would take if you have no fear pushes the worries away. It’s remarkable.
- Take action. Anytime you are uncertain, take a specific concrete step towards one of your key goals. This, too, pushes the worries away and gives you a sense of mastering your destiny rather than being pushed around.
On The Other Side Of Fear Lurks a Zen-like Confidence
Learning to master fear and uncertainty is one of the most important skills you can learn in life. Once you are comfortable with ambiguity, you can get more creative, take chances, and take decisive action rather than worrying and hesitating too much. On the other side of fear you will find a Zen-like confidence that doesn’t depend on external clarity. Achieving such calm takes time. You will need to iterate through uncertainty again and again, but I know you can do this.
Focus On Spirit
There is only one area of life that provides complete certainty, the spiritual dimension. Unlike anything in the physical world, which is impermanent, changes, evolves, or decays, our spiritual nature and spiritual reality remain permanent. So, if you crave certainty, concentrate on God. Then allow life and the external world to evolve and grow organically. Trust me, you will be much more relaxed rather than trying to gather the wind and hold it in place.