Websters dictionary defines Uncertainty (uncertain) as situations involving imperfect or unknown information. It applies to predictions of future events, to physical measurements that are already made, or to the unknown.
Uncertainty is everywhere. It arises in any number of fields, including insurance, philosophy, physics, statistics, economics, finance, psychology, sociology, engineering, metrology, meteorology, ecology and information science.
COVID-19 is pushing us all in ways we’ve never been pushed, and making us do thing we’ve never done. It’s also stressing us in very peculiar ways. Perhaps one of the most tiring things is the all encompassing lack of certainty.
It’s astonishing how much daily life has changed in such a short time. Yet what is instructive about COVID-19 is not so much what it has changed as what it has exposed — and not just about weaknesses in institutions and economic structures. It’s not that COVID-19 has suddenly made the world uncertain; it’s that it has shown how uncertain it was all along.
Uncertainty is like the weather. It’s always there, part of the atmosphere, and a condition over which individuals and organizations have very little control. The severity of uncertainty, like the severity of the weather, can rise and fall. At the moment, around the world, CEOs are operating under a series of severe uncertainty alerts.
As we all know, it’s back-to-school time. In a “normal” year, it is sad that summer is ending, but it is great to welcome the cooler weather and predictable routines. This year, though, is anything but normal. Rather than predictable routines, we are dealing with uncertainty in all corners: Will schools remain open? Will there be more shutdowns? Are more mandatory quarantines coming? The uncertainty is palpable.
As we head into the great unknown of trying to return to business as (kinda) normal, I will list three ways of handling the uncertainty.
Take charge: – What do you do when life throws you curve balls? Do you face them or dodge them? When we have a realization that we will handle whatever life brings, we can relax a bit about what might happen in the future. We may not be able to plan the way we prefer, but we can plan to be flexible and adaptable and work with whatever happens next.
Remain calm. With life feeling unpredictable, keeping calm is more important than ever. When we are calm, we think more clearly, act with more focus, and live and work more efficiently. One of the best ways to keep our calm is through meditation. Meditation gives us space between an action and our reaction to allow us to act more thoughtfully and mindfully.
Focus on your belief system(values). During times of transition and challenge, clarity of values is essential. As things around us change, as we are faced with opportunities and difficulties, it can be easy to lose our way. When we are clear in our values — what matters most to us, and why — decision-making and opportunity assessment are much easier. If you need to pivot, or if there is any reason you are reassessing your practice or career, take the time to clearly define your values.
Start by asking yourself questions like: What do you want for your career? What’s your ideal day? Who do you want around you? With what kind of people do you want to work? What is success to you and your firm? What does financial stability mean to you? Use the answers to craft your personal values statement, similar to a company’s mission and vision statement. Having certainty in your values gives you more clarity when you are dealing with uncertainty in life.
Remember, you’ve got this!