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Accepting Uncertainty

This lesson is a part of an audio course How to Thrive During Uncertainty by Julia Barbosa

In this lesson, we discuss how to accept uncertainty, which is simply part of life.

After the initial resistance to any situation of change, eventually, we learn to accept the change. Like resistance, acceptance is a natural response, and it usually comes with time.

Imagine going through any period of change with the ability to pause before reacting, the calm to not judge it, and being able to see the positives. That is pretty amazing. And with practice, it is possible.

Accepting uncertainty doesn't mean that we stop making plans, or that we completely give up on any form of control. It simply means recognizing that uncertainty always exists and that it is neither good nor bad. Specific instances of uncertainty can be positive or negative, but uncertainty itself is simply part of life, like the air we breathe.

When you're able to accept uncertainty, you're more prepared to deal with change and more resilient to respond to it when it happens. You learn to adapt to unknown situations, and it increases your flexibility. And it gives you the freedom to recognize that life may surprise us, and that is part of the fun.

When we're focused on plans and long-term goals, we forget that it is what is happening now that makes the biggest difference.

For example, if we think about career development, we think about reaching a specific milestone, getting a promotion, or where we want to be in five years. It's great to know where you're going, but life happens in the journey. If you're working many hours every day, you want to make sure that this time is enjoyable.

We often think about purpose as something that you achieve once you have completed your goals, and that is true. What is also true is that purpose is present in the steps we take to achieve our goals.

The purpose is what drives us, and having a purpose in the midst of uncertainty makes us more resilient. Purpose can be found in many different places. At work, it can be the reason why you work at all, or it can be the small things that motivate you throughout the day: the support you give to colleagues, the side project that makes things easy for everyone in the team.

Or it can be found outside work, in the interactions we have with others, when we help a friend, volunteer, create something that will make someone else happy. It can be as small as cooking a delicious meal for a friend, creating an enjoyable moment in a difficult time.

Finding purpose wherever it is, creates meaning in the small tasks we complete every day. By creating a life filled with purpose, you can find happiness even when things are difficult.

One way to practice this is to pick an activity to focus on for one month. I've done this many times, and examples have included running 10k, learning to enjoy green tea, practicing crow pose in yoga. Many times, I fail at my objectives.

But that doesn't matter. It is the practice, rather than the result, which brings adventure to my life: I can embrace different experiences with curiosity as I know that there's always something to be learned.

Developing small practices that remind us to learn and have fun can make a huge difference in our days and in our lives. In a difficult time, picking something small to focus on is a manageable way to create a contained area of practice. Try this out, and see what you learn.

In the next lesson, we will review practical strategies to deal with change and uncertainty.

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Written by

Julia Barbosa

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