Have you considered consulting a psychic for your business? According to Fortune, a growing number of executives count "intuitive counselors" among their closest advisors. Many of the rest of us remain skeptical but relate to that desire to know the future.

Uncertainty keeps things exciting and interesting but when it goes unchecked the wide-open list of possibilities can be paralyzing. In fact, the biggest issue that most people have with change in their business is that the other side of it is unknown. It's the uncertainty about what that other side looks like that drives us crazy--not so much the change itself.

Here's a quick quiz to gauge your level of comfort with change and uncertainty...

  • Do you struggle with vague problems with no clear solution or outcome?
  • When making decisions, do you like to have a lot of data?
  • Do you feel less efficient and productive when your task is unclear?
  • Do you have a strong urge to finish everything?
  • Do you like to establish patterns in your work and do things the same way every time?

If you answered yes to all or most of these, dealing with ambiguity might be a difficulty for you. Here's what you can do to overcome this hurdle, get a reasonable amount of certainty, and move forward with your work.

  1. Define the problem. You may think you know the problem you're trying to solve, but when you're stuck and uncertain, it can help to write it down and even get input from others. It makes tackling the problem much less daunting when you know exactly what you're up against.
  2. Break tasks down into the smallest pieces possible. Complete each step and then decide what next small step you need to take based on what you learned in the first.
  3. Try on an alternative mantra and tell yourself that done is good enough. One of the downsides of perfectionism is that it can slow you down or cause you to stall completely when you don't believe you have enough information to act.
  4. Learn something new. Uncertainty can be paralyzing when we realize that we don't have the right skills for the job at hand. If you feel unequipped for the task of podcasting, for example, you could identify the smallest possible skill needed to move forward such as how to record your voice and save the file to playback. You then decide on the best way to pick up that recording skill. It could be as simple as watching a YouTube video or reading instructions that come with your chosen app.
  5. Get organized. When your work and thoughts are scattered, it can be nearly impossible to focus and develop a clear action plan. Take the time needed to get workspace, screen, thoughts, and research organized so that you can think more clearly.
  6. Take a few minutes to read stories about successful people who overcame tremendous difficulties or failure. At times, we all need a little positive boost to remind us that fear can be successfully managed when we put the real risks into perspective.
  7. Deal with your stress head-on. Pressure to perform or produce can make a bad situation worse. To manage your stress, write down what is making you anxious, consider putting it aside and doing something else for a period of time, and coming back to it when you're feeling more in control.

There's a great quote from author Peter Senge: "People don't resist change. They resist being changed." If you're like most, you're fine with change as long as you're the one in control of it. But having change happen to you is another story. Unfortunately, in work and life, the forces of change are all around us. Our abilities to either roll with the punches or shape those changes to benefit us are crucial.

Ambiguity can be paralyzing and can hold people back from doing their best work. When you know that you don't deal well with uncertainty, you can actively manage it, get a reasonable amount of information that allows you to move forward, and keep your perfectionist tendencies in check.

Published on: Jul 26, 2016