Research shows we are hardwired to seek certainty in our lives because of our fear of change. That need for control has become more evident in our world of multi-pull distractions. How can you lessen the discomfort of job and career uncertainty to give you clarity, confidence and inform your decision-making?

Uncertainty can mean you don’t know what is going to happen and you fear a negative future outcome. Inertia and procrastination are common responses to uncertainty, sometimes driven by self-limiting beliefs and also hanging on to the familiar, tried and trusted. However, nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. We have seen how the disruptive change of technology can render what works to what worked overnight.

The most common way of dealing with uncertainty is to close our minds and limit our options and behaviours. Dr Jim Bright

According to research by Dr Bright, uncertainty about the future worries two-thirds of his clients and nearly all believe their lives will be very different in five years time. Dr Bright calls for more courage in living authentically on the edge of chaos. He asks a pertinent question: how can you embrace uncertainty and value failure?

Here are 7 common scenarios and ways to create your own certainty:

  1. I don’t know what I want to do/I don’t have a passion – Learn to be (how do you want to feel at work?). Explore and discover by doing. Let your passion find you. Create your own certainty.
  2. Is this the right job or career direction for me? Test your intuition. Ask ‘what if…’ questions (what if I succeed?). Check your compass (where do you want to go?) and personal values. Assess your appetite for risk. Create your own certainty.
  3. How do I deal with conflicting job and career advice? Invent your own advice (what would your best friend tell you to do?). Do your research – understand the context/bigger picture to pull you out of the minutiae of daily worries. Simplify to reduce confusion. Follow your head and heart. Create your own certainty.
  4. How do I succeed in this job or company? Put yourself forward for opportunities to shine. Use your values to drive your actions. Build your reputation one step at a time. Assess where you are on your personal development journey (what can I do for myself and where do I need support?). Work collaboratively to mitigate risk. Create your own certainty.
  5. I don’t know where I stand in my current job or if it is safe – Clarify your role (what is the real purpose of your job?) – check out the video below.

    Challenge ambiguity. Get feedback. Establish the facts (what is true and false). Proactively consider options rather than waiting to be done to. Create your own certainty.

  6. What next for me? – ‘I want something more than my current situation, but I don’t know which way to turn or how to do it’. Follow your intuition fuelled by self-awareness and how others see you. Be creative – turn traditional thinking on its head and marry apparent opposites. Beware cognitive dissonance (when you hold two conflicting beliefs that prompt action simply to reduce the discomfort) and stay true to yourself. Create your own certainty.
  7. I fear the future – Be accepting of yourself and the situation. Help others to manage uncertainty and deal with ambiguity. Practice mindfulness and stress management. Create your own certainty.

The best way to predict the future is to create it. Peter Drucker

How you respond to uncertainty is a critical competence that any employer will value. You can show an employer your ability to manage uncertainty by articulating how you have managed yourself and others.

Understanding yourself is the foundation stone of your personal and professional development. Those inner resources will lie fallow without investing in yourself through self-reflection and the support of other people who truly believe in you (family, friend, great manager or colleague, coach and mentor). Lifelong learning is underpinned by being aware, committed and accountable (to yourself and others).

Embrace rather than fear uncertainty. Create your own certainty.