Managing change in a time of uncertainty

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The global pandemic is a cloud of uncertainty that hangs over us and the exponential progress of the digital age has brought about this era of disruption. It is challenging to navigate this ever-changing landscape. 

Being a leader in this environment comes with even more challenges as you not only have to cope with these changes yourself but guide your organisation and those you lead through the process as well. 

So how does one manage change in an age of disruption? 

While it is impossible to foresee exactly what changes are on the horizon, it is possible to cope with change by bolstering your resilience and capacity to manage stress, worry and uncertainty. Keep reading to better understand how you can personally manage change in an age of disruption. 

Understanding the Relationship Between Anxiety and Uncertainty

As uncertainty increases and the status quo no longer ensures security and longevity for businesses or careers, anxiety is reaching epidemic proportions in society. This signals a critical need to enable ourselves and others to shift from worry, stress and fear to leading happier, more fulfilled lives.

Anxiety is an essential survival mechanism that has been with us since primitive times when life was relatively simple and things in our surroundings were either friend and foe. Back then, if we encountered real danger, the stress reaction was triggered and we were primed to run, hide or fight in order to protect ourselves. We want to be able to predict and have certainty in our environment, in order to be able to protect ourselves.

The problem is that in reality we are living in an era of disruptions with an intensification of uncertainty. The world is in a constant state of change, and the predictable movements through life belong to a bygone era. We are no longer caught in fight or flight with imminent danger, we are caught in a struggle with uncertainty. Grappling with uncertainty is a mental process that ends up having the opposite effect to its intended purpose. This is what we call worry. 

Our brains are simply not designed to sit comfortably with uncertainty. However, when you respond to uncertainty with self-awareness, you build greater acceptance around the experience of anxiety that comes with uncertainty and take yourself out of fight or flight. As a result, you will circumvent the panic cycle and end up feeling better. 

Accepting Uncertainty

Rather than struggling to gain certainty when there is no certainty, begin to accept and tolerate uncertainty. Although this goes against what our brains are naturally wired to do, it is imperative to managing the stress, worry and anxiety that comes with change and disruption. Allow yourself to learn that even if things don’t go completely according to plan, you have the capacity to cope. By moving through these uncomfortable feelings of anxiety rather than avoiding them, you develop courage and confidence rather than being bossed around by fear. 

Focusing On Effort

Part of the discomfort with change and uncertainty is focusing on the outcome and trying to predict exactly what that will be. This isn’t always possible and can give away your power and keep you trapped in anxiety. Rather than focusing on change or anxiety about the future, focus on what you can control. Your power will come from choosing how you respond. Tip the focus from outcome to effort. Put your energy into the things that are within your control and what needs to be done now rather than what may or may not happen in the future. 

Engaging in Purposeful Action

What we focus on grows. While circumstances are not always in our control, we have the power to choose how we respond to stress. Choosing to align with your values rather than responding with fear-driven actions can minimise your stress and worry. Creating a Mind Strength Method wellbeing action plan makes it easier for you to stand up to the voice of worry and alleviate the anxiety, both in the short-term and the long-term. 

In this time when things are constantly changing, it is important to equip you and your team with the tools you need to manage change and deal with uncertainty. If you would like to hear more about this topic, contact us to invite Dr Jodie to speak at your workplace.