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Your monthly dose of Project Management articles.

Uncertainty is certain

Uncertainty is the only certain thing about life. 

 No one is free form this struggle, even the most successful people that you can think of struggled with it. Throughout all past civilizations and up to date, fortune-telling and future predictions take a big space in people’s lives. Not only that, the ones who used to do these jobs were the most powerful people in society. In some ancient civilizations, they were the messengers between God, universe or external superpowers and the rulers. Furthermore, it’s not a surprise that there are entire industries devoted to filling in the blanks of our future, such as astrology, strategic management consultancy, etc... 

People always care for what is going to happen in the future, which is a very normal human behaviour as we thrive on safety and security. 

We want to know if the project we are working on will succeed if we follow this path we are taking, we want to know if the coming job and manager will provide us what we look for in terms of personal growth. 

 I can go forever in telling you what we would like to know, however that is all in the future which nobody ever knew in the present moment. 

Let’s for a moment imagine if we are certain and know everything about the future. Our lives would be drained of emotions. No surprise and pleasure, no joy or thrill— we knew it all along. The new job, the new country, meeting your soulmate, falling in love, even the birth of a child would be about as exciting as last year’s weather report. If our world ever turned certain, life would be dull. 

learning how to deal with uncertainty can have a drastic result on the quality of your life, as Tony Robbins said: “The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably deal with.” 

Most of us are scared to take a step forward because of the fear of uncertainty, but do you know that we deal with the biggest uncertainty every day? Because we take time for granted as if it is promised. We tend to mask the fact that every single second in life is not certain. What we must learn is how to become comfortable around uncertainties. Eckhart Tolle mentioned in his writing that “ When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life”. I find this quote a very powerful presentation to live by.

COVID-19 is one of the perfect examples of how dealing with uncertainty can have negative implications on our mental health as well. It’s something new, we don’t have enough information, therefore our minds drift into assumptions and conclusions. Our mind starts creating all kind of scenarios of what could happen, and thus anxiety and stress happen. 

However, there are methods that I believe are helpful to deal with uncertainties in which I would like to share: 

1) Focus on what you can control: 

Reminding ourselves that we can’t control everything in life. The only thing we can control is how we react toward any event. Anything outside us is not subjected to our control, we can only control things that are within certain limits, as we need to process it with our emotions and then conclude. I can refer here to the “ Manual of Living” by the Roman & Stoic Philosopher who wrote: 

“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and  which have to do with the choices I actually control. 

Do we give our energy away to factors we cannot control or do we retain it and direct it onto the options we can control? You decide. 

2) Be Present: 

The past has no power over the present moment, and the future is yet an illusion. Understanding that our brain is the most sophisticated tool that has been created. What makes human intelligence special is that we have a vivid sense of memory and fantastic imagination. 

 The memory belongs to the past, and imagination belongs to the future. Whenever we get anxious about the future then that means that we are using our imagination in the wrong way. We are travelling in our minds to the future and experiencing things that might or might not happen. However, are they true at this moment? No. Then what’s the point of drifting into these thoughts? It’s okay to have them in your mind as possibilities, but it’s harmful that you live them as facts. 

The only truth is here and now, the present. Therefore, learning how to be present and the most powerful method to deal with the anxiety of uncertainties. 

3) Take time to self-care.

We can’t pour from an empty cup, therefore we need to make sure that our cup of self-care and love is full before we start dealing with our surroundings. Taking care of ourselves physically and mentally is the essence of dealing with whatever happens outside of you. 

- Take time to work out. Never underestimate how this pump works magic on your state of mind. 

- Sleep well. 

- Your body is the temple of your soul, therefore keep yourself busy with healthy habits of eating. 

- Have fun. Do whatever brings joy and peace to your soul. 

4) Eliminate your triggers. 

Do you know your triggers? It could be negative people, certain news channels, places, etc.. for example, you might feel better if you avoid paying attention to rumours and conspiracy theories of untrusted sources talking about COVID-19. 

5) Become more aware of your thoughts. 

Notice when you’re feeling it. Being aware of this feeling of uncertainty is a great skill to develop. As you work on this awareness, you’ll feel uncertainty about your awareness skill. In other words, become the watcher of your thoughts and catch yourself when your mind starts creating anxious scenarios.

 Hussein Hojeij

About author
Business strategist & marketing specialist with over than 10 years experience in international fast-growing companies. Currently working in the software industry and focused on digital marketing.
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