Suddenly, you face an uncertain future as you watch the world around you change in an instant.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, we are experiencing a time of incredible transition and change.
When faced with such upheaval, it is natural to feel that your anchor to everything you have known is being taken away. Almost as if the very ground beneath you is crumbling.
The only sure thing is uncertainty. We want some flavour in our lives, but we also want strategies to deal with life’s ups and downs.
“If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
An uncertain future
Everyone has times in their lives when the future is uncertain. For most of us now, it’s due to Coronavirus. Do you remember the ‘good old days’, when it might have been a big challenge or a big opportunity you knew was just around the corner?
Change can create a tremendous amount of fear as your mind gets filled with thoughts such as, What will happen to me? Can I support myself financially in the future? Will my children be all right?
As you experience the uncomfortable feelings of being groundless, you become aware that the future is uncertain. There are people out there (entrepreneurs) who, even without COVID-19, feel the future is always uncertain.
Let’s take some advice from them on how to deal with an uncertain future.
1. Continue to plan
Planning is the key to living intentionally rather than reactively. But how do we make time to plan when our days are filled with uncertainty?
When our days are like that, it’s easy to get lost in the drama. The risk is that we end up always having to play catch up, that we are being reactive instead of proactive.
This is a time when a little bit of planning and forethought and planning can make a huge difference.
So, I suggest making at least three plans. A Plan A, if things go well, as anticipated. Plan B, if things take a wrong turn. Plan C, if things go far better than you expected.
When you have a plan, you have actions to undertake. And better to have alternate plans and know what you can be doing instead of throwing your plans in the trash and living in complete uncertainty.
Plan on several levels
Planning can happen on various levels. Obviously, you need to have a business plan ready when an opportunity or an investor comes your way. What I’m referring to is more of a method for facing the uncertainty coming your way. This might require something on a shorter term, say a 90-day plan or even a 30-day plan.
When you plan, you make the best of the time you have, you practically ensure progress towards your goals, and you ensure you have the resources you need to make the most of the opportunities you have.
When you make time to plan you can see that some of the things you’re currently doing may not be moving you towards your goals or you can figure out ways to do what you’re doing better.
Recap #1: Make time to plan.
2. Focus on things you can control
The elements you can control are the things that go into your plan first and foremost. You can’t decide for anyone else what they will or will not do. But you can prepare to be at your best and most influential when you talk with them.
“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” – Steve Maraboli
Being able to discern the difference between the things we can control and the things we can’t comes up frequently in conversations with clients. Surprisingly, it always comes back to one principle:
You can control your input, but not the outcome.
I can control how I show up every day, but I can’t control other people’s opinion of me.
I can control how much effort and time I put into preparing for a sales meeting, but I can’t control whether I end up getting the contract.
In each of these situations, we can influence the outcome, but we can’t control it.
A personal example, and this was a huge learning curve for me.
There are some things most, if not all, people worry about nowadays: Might I contract Coronavirus? If I do, will I survive? If I do, will I recover fully and so on? These are massive things.
Unfortunately, they are also the things that I can’t control.
Yes, I can absolutely influence them, but I don’t get to decide how they turn out. And stressing and worrying about them doesn’t change this.
I can control how many times I wash my hands each day and how often I touch my face. I can make sure I minimise the risk of contracting the virus, and I can maximise my health in case I do.
So I focus on the elements that I can control and that places the responsibility of the plan’s success primarily on me.
Recap #2: With your plan, focus on the things you can control.
3. Have a morning routine
Whether you’re a morning person who rises at 5 am or a night owl who burns the midnight oil, we all have to start our morning at some point. And curiously, we all seem to start it differently. There are a billion different ways a morning could go.
But which morning routine is the best?
There’s probably not one ideal morning routine that is perfect for everyone. If we look at the morning routines of high achievers as well as the latest research, we can learn a lot.
Bear in mind, it is easy to maintain a morning routine when everything is going well. Still, it becomes more of a challenge when we face an uncertain future. You might get into a ‘why bother’ mindset.
If the future is uncertain, then we need to maximise today. Let’s start the morning on the right foot and boost our productivity.
Your first task of the day should be significant and meaningful. Something that requires a lot of focus, will, and determination to accomplish.
The logic behind that is that we have limited self-control.
The strength model suggests that self-control draws from a pool of common resources that gets depleted. Think of self-control as a muscle that gets fatigued after it is used.
Researchers have come to the following conclusion:
As the day goes on, your self-control experiences greater and greater depletion. That makes it vitally important to make those early morning hours count.
Recap #3: Start the day on the right foot with a morning routine that helps you accomplish your plan.
4. Understand the nature of fear
I want to introduce two crucial concepts taken from CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy).
Following from point 2. Focus on things you can control, the only things that you can truly control in life are your thoughts and actions.
Thoughts create feelings which determine actions.
Studies have shown that you have a thought first and then the feeling. You cannot have a feeling without first having a thought.
This is wonderful news and validates the value of developing an awareness of your thoughts. A practice we commonly call mindfulness.
It follows that if we can control our thoughts, we can influence how we feel and what actions might follow as a result.
Consider this, both anxiety and fear only live in future thinking.
They are based on events that MIGHT happen, but haven’t happened yet and actually MAY NEVER happen.
When you understand the nature of fear, you understand that fear loves to have power over you in this way.
It creates the illusion that events that might happen have already happened! And you feel every one of them.
Anxiety and fear do not exist in present moment thinking. When you stay in the present, you eliminate your anxiety and fear.
Recap #4: Become aware of your thoughts and how they create feelings that drive your actions.
5. Know your non-negotiables in advance.
There are some things that you care about more than other things. It’s unique to each of us.
Without awareness or consideration, boundaries can be crossed, rejected, or overlooked.
This makes us feel confused, hurt or invalidated.
And if this happens often enough, it alters our reality. It affects the relationship we have with ourselves and with others as well.
You need to develop boundaries that you consider non-negotiables to create a happy and healthy life. Dr Carla Marie Manly is the author of Joy From Fear, and she suggests that when you set boundaries, you create a sense of internal and external security.
When we set boundaries, it allows us to be clear on our needs, and this helps to maintain clear limits with others.
The difference between non-negotiables and regular boundaries
Struggling with the difference between non-negotiables and regular boundaries?
Okay, think that our non-negotiables are those elements that we must have in our life to feel safe and secure.
Some boundaries are flexible in their nature, but non-negotiables are essential to our sense of being honoured and respected.
It might take time to figure out and incorporate your non-negotiables into your everyday routine.
Many of the people I work with are not feel comfortable when they start to do this. I emphasise that developing these boundaries benefits your present and future self.
And that’s a pretty cool thing to consider.
Below, Manly provides a general list of non-negotiable boundaries you can consider for your personal life and how you can maintain them for the long haul.
Having non-negotiable boundaries become a part of your life will transform your world.
Time to beware, at first observation, I can’t tell what your non-negotiables are, and you can’t tell what mine are.
But if we get to know each other better than we might get an inkling.
Recap #5: Throughout your days and weeks, have non-negotiables that act like big rocks within a shaky terrain.
6. Remember your why
Your ‘Why’ is the foundation you can stand on, no matter how uncertain the ground around you becomes.
Revisit your why repeatedly. Not just for yourself, but for everyone with whom you work and you work for.
To know your ‘Why’ is amongst the most important things you can understand in your life.
Your Why is your purpose in life, what you believe you are meant to do here.
It is the reason you get out of bed in the morning and do all that you do.
A few of us know our ‘Why‘, the majority of us don’t. For some of us our ‘Why‘ changes over time.
Knowing your purpose in life is crucial because it gives you direction. It allows you to prioritise and let go of all that isn’t serving that purpose.
Coming back to your Why regularly allows you to assess where you are in your journey.
Are you living a fulfilling life and on track or did you take a wrong path and need to find your way back?
When your Why guides your decisions, you have the confidence that you are making the right decisions even if they are difficult.
Pursuing your Why might require that you say goodbye to some people to leave room for new ones.
Do you know your Why?
My Why infuses everything I do, and it guides how I build my business and my life.
Take a moment to reflect on your life purpose. If you are not sure what it is, don’t judge yourself too harshly. Give yourself time to figure it out. Your Why is there waiting to be discovered and fully tapped into.
Recap #6: Your why is your foundation. Keep yourself locked onto it, no matter the storms or mountains you face.
How do you face uncertainty and triumph? Leave a comment we’d love to hear from you.