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  • Writer's pictureDr Claire Ashley

How to thrive under uncertainty!

Post pandemic, we live and work under rapidly changing and unpredictable circumstances. Facing this uncertainty can be a cause of considerable psychological distress, particularly when facing making important decisions. If you cannot make decisions about your life or your career based on known facts and certainty, how do you know if you are making the right choices? Worryingly, uncertainty and lack of perceived control is known to be a workplace factor that increases burnout risk. Currently, burnout is a hair on fire problem and solutions are needed urgently. Finding successful ways of managing uncertainty is part of solving this problem.

Successfully managing uncertainty involves a flexible and pragmatic approach to decision making, which can feel very challenging! But, what if I told you that not only can you successfully learn to manage uncertainty, but that there are also ways to positively thrive under uncertainty?

Here are our top tips for navigating the challenges that uncertainty brings, but better than that, how to really turn these tricky circumstances into opportunities to grow, develop and thrive professionally!

1. Accepting uncertainty does not mean not having a plan. Focus on what you can control and solvable issues. Set SMART goals and create a roadmap with short term, medium term and long term goals on it. Take small steps and review regularly. You can do this in BobbyChat using our goal setting feature, and you can also identify what you can control using our “Release and Focus” feature.

2. In times of uncertainty, prioritise actions and behaviours that will help you feel secure. Establish habits, routine and predictability in your day-to-day routine, where possible. For instance, Dr Claire tends to have the same routine when the work day is done- she likes to go for a brisk walk outside to signal to her body that it’s time to relax!

3. In times of uncertainty, reduced decision making burden will create more space for you to deal with the bigger problems. Identify the small decisions in your day to day life that you can reduce, for instance, picking out your clothes for work in advance, or meal prepping so you don’t need to think about what to eat for lunch every day. Steve Jobs used to wear the same outfit every day- a black turtleneck- because, he said, reducing one single decision every day meant he had more capacity to focus on the larger and more important decisions he was making at Apple.

4. You cannot go wrong if you are making both your short term and long term decisions based on your values. Identify your values and engage in values based decision making (we will be doing lots more content on this in the future. Comment below if this is something you would like to see!).

5. Be flexible with plans and expectations. Be prepared to change. Use the “Reflect” tool in BobbyChat to help successfully work through any difficult/unwanted/uncomfortable thoughts or feelings that come up as a result of rapid change!

6. Never, ever make a permanent decision in anger, or during a mental health crisis. Unless you have to make an urgent decision that is required for your safety (or the safety of others), take time out, gather some perspective, and make a decision when the heat has subsided.

7. You are not alone in finding things hard right now - so many of us are finding this period of rapid change and uncertainty hard. Open up to trusted friends and family. Peer support and connection is evidence based in burnout prevention and recovery. You can also use tools in BobbyChat to help successfully navigate uncertainty!

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