Change is inevitable. Without it, life would become stagnant. While change and instability have always been a fact of life, it hasn’t always felt so omnipresent. In our modern world, we are constantly bombarded with headlines that make us feel uncertain about the future – whether it is politics, economic instability or climate change. Technology, science, and business have grown exponentially, resulting in accelerated change and leaving us with more ambiguity than ever before. While this can make us more aware of what’s going on in the world, it can also make us uncomfortable and lead to anxiety.
In order to thrive and reach our full potential, it is essential to be able to adapt to change and cope with ambiguity. Learning to navigate change makes it easier to be flexible and see a future full of opportunities rather than threats to our current plans.
Here are five tips for embracing change and uncertainty:
1. Accept That You Cannot Control Everything
We are wired to try to control everything in our environment and seek stability. However, this is impossible and it is especially so in today’s ever-changing, unpredictable and fast-paced world. When we give up the security of the known we create new opportunities, grow our capabilities, build confidence and expand our influence. We can never hope to achieve success unless we are willing to embrace the unknown and get comfortable with the inherent discomfort of taking risks.
2. Identify the Negative
While it is important to focus on the positive, it is equally important to identify the negative – so you can weed it out of your life. The sooner you become aware that a change is going to happen or is necessary, the sooner you can accept it and take action. Think about your life and progress. Are things moving forward or do you feel stuck in some areas? Are there any new factors that may be altering your course? By recognising the negative, you can take action and make the changes necessary to minimise or eliminate it altogether.
3. Check Your Fear
“Nothing worthwhile has ever been accomplished with a guarantee of success.”
– John F. Kennedy
Throughout our lives and careers, we must regularly assess whether we are allowing our fear to stand in the way of taking the actions necessary to move forward. One way of doing this is to ask yourself what you would do if you had no chance of failing. The first few answers that pop into your head will point you in the direction you need to go. By becoming aware of your fear you can address it and limit its impacts on reaching your goals.
4. Have a Healthy Perspective on Failure
Failure is part of becoming (and remaining) successful. However, we often interpret our failures as permanent inadequacies and excuses to stick with what we know or are good at rather than building new skills or taking risks. Rather than seeing failure as a negative, fixed outcome, learn how to view it as a lesson and stepping stone along the path to success.
5. Take Risks
Embrace uncertainty by taking risks. This doesn’t mean you need to jump out of a plane with a parachute strapped to your back – the risks you need to take will depend on your unique goals and fears. You can uncover some of these by asking yourself:
What conversations and situations have I been avoiding?
Where can I take leadership and open up more opportunities for myself?
What would I do if I had no fear?
Taking the right risks and stretching yourself you will expand your horizons and help you to accomplish far more than you could with ‘business as usual’ or playing it safe.
While certainty may be comfortable and undemanding, it puts limits on our future and stifles our potential. When we lean forward into uncertainty rather than resist it, we get good at change and embrace it.