Uncertainty is a natural part of the startup life. It’s where the excitement comes from, where the magic happens and its a place where we live a lot while building our startup. While there’s nothing wrong with uncertainty, the problem is that it can be uncomfortable. And most of us don’t like to be uncomfortable.
To achieve anything or to grow in any way, you need to be prepared to face uncertainty. In fact, if you think about it, all the big life changing things you do have a fair amount of uncertainty attached to them – starting a business, having your first baby, moving to a new city or job, going back to study etc.
“The quality of your life is directly related to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably live with.” – Tony Robbins
Meaning that if you don’t like uncertainty at all, you won’t take any risks in an effort to keep your life safe and contained. And that sounds like a recipe for mediocrity (and boredom!)
Sometimes uncertainty can get you down or send you into a negative spiral and make you unproductive. If this is happening to you, either there is too much uncertainty in your life all at once and/or the uncertainty is feeding off negative beliefs, that you may not even realise you hold, that are undermining your confidence.
The good news is that we can increase our tolerance for uncertainty. And it starts with how we think about it.
Personally, I was going through a period a few months ago where a lot of things were up in the air. There seemed to be a few of those life changing events round the corner (not the baby one though! ) I found myself feeling really overwhelmed with it all. Here’s the process I used to deal with it.
Action: Overcome Uncertainty
The value in this exercise is in thinking through it and writing down your thoughts. So stop now and grab a piece of paper (or your favourite electronic device). Don’t save it to do later (you never will.) Do it now. It will take you 2 minutes.
1. Identify what you are feeling uncertain about:
Make a list and write down everything that is bothering you, no matter how big or small
2. Identify the underlying fear:
For some things there may not be a fear, it may just be something you need to handle. But for many things you may be surprised to learn that there is some level of fear behind them. It doesn’t have to be rational (or even seem very important), just write it down anyway because it could be subconsciously holding you back. If you do this exercise with a few different situations, you will probably discover a few common underlying beliefs that influence the way you think about different situations. Realising that you apply the same unhelpful thinking to many situations is great. You can replace it with a more helpful belief which will make a big impact for you in lots of situations.
3. Identify any assumptions you have made
Also identify whether the assumption is true, incorrect or needs more information to validate it. If it is incorrect, give yourself a counter argument. If you need to validate it, what action can you take to do that? If it’s true, what action can you take to get a different result?
4. Create new (more helpful) beliefs and actions
It’s important to replace the unhelpful beliefs and fears we identify with new beliefs and actions to take that will allow us to move forward. So what new (more helpful) beliefs can you take on and what actions do you need to take? Consciously repeat these beliefs to yourself as you tackle the things you are feeling uncertain about.
Join the Conversation:
Let us know in the comments how you did with this process. Or tell us about your strategies to overcome uncertainty.