When Uncertainty Strikes, Focus on What You Can Control
I have to remind clients that, when they feel uncertain, uncomfortable, or unsure, they need to focus on what they can control.
Last week, I wrote about how I don’t like change when I do not have control over the change. If you haven’t read the post, please read it now: I Don’t Like Change – It Has to Be On My Terms.
There is a lot of uncertainty about the future, especially given our most recent U.S. presidential election. I have had to realize that I am not in control of what will happen as it relates to health insurance, taxes, environmental controls, world events, etc.
Here is a good example: Americans are freaking out about losing Obamacare
I am not in control.
During the 1990s, I traveled all over the world for business. I had a 3-year period in the mid-1990s when I traveled about twice a month and, on every trip, I had some sort of travel glitch. Some were major—like taking three days to get from Austin to Brussels, Belgium. Others were more troubling—like having to make an emergency landing due to a passenger having a heart attack. The rest were just flat annoying—like having a jet bridge collapse about the time we were supposed to board the plane.
What I learned was that I am not in control. I learned to let go and just make the best of the situation.
Lack of Control in the Job Search
Most of the time, when you are in job search mode, you are not in control. You cannot control when:
- A position will become available
- All of the interviewers are available so that one may be scheduled
- The hiring decision will be made
- A major decision maker becomes ill and is out for a full week
- The recruiter you are working with attends a conference and is out of touch for a week
- A hurricane hits a major facility and causes the company to incur steep financial loss
- The hiring manager determines that he/she has not interviewed enough qualified candidates and starts the process all over again
- There is a hiring freeze imposed during the interview process
- Budgets get cut due to bad quarterly financial results
I have seen all of these occur. What can you control? Your actions.
- Reach out to person who referred you to the hiring manager and do some investigation
- Follow the company in the news
- Be persistent and keep reaching out. Use the methods described in my post, 3 Steps to Get the Hiring Manager or Recruiter to Respond.
Uncertainty is a Killer
For most of us, uncertainty is a killer. It creates anxiety. I always go back to the methods I learned in the book Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Charmin.
The author tells us that there are two sides of our brain:
- Positive, or the sage side
- Negative, or the saboteur’s side (there are 10 saboteurs)
The 10 saboteurs are:
The idea is to spend significantly more time on the positive or sage side of the brain, than the negative or saboteur side. You accomplish this by identifying your primary saboteurs, naming them and learning to spot them when they pop up in your thinking.
This is a powerful method of reducing the anxiety produced by uncertainty.
When we are uncertain, one of the saboteurs usually pop up and creates havoc in our heads. This is when MSU (Make Stuff Up) syndrome kicks in. MSU syndrome is when we make stuff up in our heads due to uncertainty.
Try some of the techniques I suggest in my post 3 Treatments for Make Stuff Up Disorder.
I hope that these suggestions are helpful in dealing with uncertainty and that they allow you to focus on what you can control. Heck, there is a lot of uncertainty in the world right now. How are you dealing with it? Are you focusing on what you can control?
Give me comment below on what you are doing to focus on what you can control.
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