Managing uncertain times

It’s ironic how one of the certainties in life we’ll often experience is… uncertainty.

We all have one thing in common… we’re always going to have to navigate change and usually that means experiencing uncertainty.

Granted, some experiences shake our lives up more than others, the pandemic is such an example. And no matter how often change happens, we forget one simple fact; we’re better at managing change than we give ourselves credit for.

You don’t believe me?

From the moment we drew our first breath of fresh air at birth we’ve had to manage change. Let me remind you of a few changes you may have had to navigate.

If you started a new romantic relationship you had to manage that change; if you came out of a relationship you had to manage that change. If a new born baby came in to your life you had to manage that change; if you lost someone very close to you, you had to manage that change. If you changed jobs, were promoted or demoted, given more or less responsibility, even if the car broke down this morning or your pen ran out of ink you had to manage that change.

I’m guessing, you’re very much like me; when you look back at all those changes I bet you managed them fairly well. You may not have wanted the change, they may have been painful or at the very least uncomfortable, but we managed them nevertheless. We adopted and adapted and we’re still here. As I said, we are far better at managing change than we give ourselves credit for.

We’ve been here before. You know the place? The place where we really don’t know where we stand at the moment. The place where we think we could be heading into a bottomless pit of disaster or heading for great times with phenomenal opportunities.

We are now in a place where we often find ourselves almost every moment of the day; we’re in a place of choice and the road we take depends on how we think. We might not be able to control what happens to us, but we can sure control how we deal with it. We just need to be brave.

Irrespective of what happens to the economy and in life there are always people and organisations who thrive no matter what’s thrown at them. How so? They flourish because of how they think. Which is what my Achievement Thinking strategies are all about.

When I deliver my keynotes at events and I’m asked to talk about managing change I state that the first step (once we get over the initial shock, which needs to be very quickly) is to calm down by pausing and taking a breath.

Panic, acting on assumptions, blaming others and making decisions when we are in an emotional state which is usually driven by fear (after all, that’s all panic is) won’t help us. It’s just wasted energy; far better to put that energy into something constructive.

Next we need to stop focussing on the problem, which includes stopping blame – either blaming ourselves or blaming others.

Instead, we need to focus on the solution. That means asking ourselves (by ourselves I mean we, the individual), what are my options? What am I in control of? What can I do? What resources do I have I can use? What do I need to let go of (in other words stop worrying about)? Who can I turn to for help? How can I reassure my partner, family and friends? Who can I collaborate with?

You might think of some other useful questions too.

Above all focus on finding opportunities.

At the moment we don’t know if we’re in the worst position economically or on the cusp of phenomenal opportunities and a great future.

It’s true our government (in the UK) is facing many many challenges and is possibly in chaos, but that doesn’t mean there are no opportunities and we won’t thrive, so I suggest we focus on any opportunities that we can create or are presented to us.

I’m not a religious person but there’s a famous prayer that in moments of uncertainty I find helpful to recite to myself. It acts as a reminder of how we need to think.

You may know it as the serenity prayer, attributed to Reinhold Neibuhr who composed it in the 1940’s and was adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous in 1942. This prayer has worked its way into so many cultural outlets that even many non-Christians know it, or at least they know the beginning which goes as follows:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference

It’s time to tap in to our inner wisdom, so pause, calm down and be solution focussed.

It’s time to put the ‘Great’ back into Great Britain and that starts with us, the individual, first.

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