Nothing in this life is predictable and through this uncertainty you must learn to thrive. People in positions that require them to plan and strategize around and with this certain uncertainty such as generals at war and CEOs on the corporate battlefield have discovered how much more lucrative and inexpensive it is to poke and prod at uncertainty until a strategy produces results rather than design expensive and time consuming step by step plans that may shatter upon the rocks when the tides of uncertainty roll in. These same methods can be applied to our daily lives as tools to help us accomplish our short term and long-term goals.
It is important to remember as you read the five steps for thriving in uncertainty below that it is not uncertainty itself that we are trying to conquer but our reactions and rejections of it and the inability to change course and direction in the face of uncertainty. It is also important to remember that not everything in life is circumstance and uncertainty however, that if you want to actively pursue things like relationships, employment opportunities, and moral obligations in your life that it takes real work and dedication. For dealing with the other parts of life though, the parts we never see coming and probably couldn’t control if we could, here are five tools for succeeding in spite of, and perhaps in some cases because of, uncertainty.
Stoicism is an ancient way of thinking that has found its way into the modern world because of the timeless tenets of separating your emotions from external circumstance and being in control of the aspects of your life you can control and allowing happenstance and uncertainty to reign over the rest. It is based on the ideal that we can only increase our chances of things working out in our favor and work toward that, never truly knowing what will happen in reality until it happens.
Embracing the ideas put forth by stoicism we can defend ourselves against the pain that inevitably comes if we lose when we did everything in our power to win, as we all will. A stoic mindset in an uncertain world allows us the ability to thrive in a life we can’t control all of the time. Working toward a stoic mindset makes us push harder when change happens and adversity comes our way.
2. Make Many Small Bets
As was mentioned in the introduction, over the years’ people have begun to realize it’s far more inexpensive and time effective to try the validity of a strategy rather than spend your time reworking and reframing it based on guesses alone. When you have a culmination of small bets, be it actual money, time invested, or any other form of investment, in many different projects or opportunities it allows you to collect big when one of them blows up or to move on to the next if one happens to fall through.
This kind of strategy is planning with uncertainty and stacking the deck in your favor, so to speak, to increase your chances of winning. This kind of thinking can be put into effect in almost every aspect of our lives. The ability to put the majority of our resources into something safe and a small fraction into something risky with the potential to pay off big allows us to work the fundamental uncertainty in life in our favor.
3. Give Yourself Options
An option is the ability to take advantage of a situation. However, having an option does not mean that you have to take it. Allowing yourself the opportunity to be exposed to more options allows for more potential opportunities. Being able to accomplish the goals you’ve set for yourself and moving to where you want to be in life is often times dependent upon the options you’ve opened up for yourself. Opening yourself up to all your options through being adaptable can help you achieve your goals in the long run.
Learning a new skill or starting a new side project can instantly increase your options by allowing you to have something to fall back on if your current main focus were to fall through. Saving money during the times in which it’s possible can widen your options by providing a cushion to fall back on or a funding source for new opportunities. Going to parties and meeting new people can greatly increase both professional and personal opportunities. Finally, something as simply being adaptable and being able to change your focus when needed can present you with amazing options you may have overlooked.
4. Being Adaptable
Adaptability is perhaps the most important tool in surviving and thriving in an uncertainty. The world we live in is constantly changing thanks to new technologies, new industries, and new innovations, just as we as individuals are constantly changing thanks to new experiences, new opportunities, and new options. In the face of all this external and internal change we must remain adaptable and able to overcome and think beyond traditional methods, plans, and strategies when they simply won’t work in a modern environment.
Ultimately, the ability to adapt and do what will benefit you most in the long run is the best decision in any given situation over making a decision based on learned behavior of what you should do in a situation. Adaptability is the situational transformation of yourself into something bigger in order to take advantage of a new and unique opportunity.
5. Embrace the Undefined
In the end, the best way to survive, thrive, and make the most of uncertainty is to embrace it. As humans, we tend to put different situations and ideas of the world into our own mental and emotional boxes so that they will make more sense to us and when dealing with an uncertain world often times this ‘boxing up’ can hurt us more than help us. As an alternative to seeking a definite answer, perhaps instead we should embrace that there are no definite answers other than the ones we are in complete control of, which are few and far between.
This may sound bleak to some but ultimately accepting the uncertain and undefined will allow you to be defined by the actions you take alone. The goal here is to let go of the things in life that are uncontrollable and to accept, embrace, and love the uncertainty that has the power to transform your daily life.