You want to move forward, but you can’t.
You would take that first step if you just knew where to put it .
That’s the problem. Everytime you get ready to make that big move fear overtakes you.
Then you stop. You put your foot back down. You justify your decision. And you turn around and accept the lie:
I’ll Start Tomorrow.
Uncertainty and Life
In the previous post about uncertainty I discussed my dream and how I battled with uncertainty.
In short I was a teacher three years ago in Los Angeles, California. I was depressed, overwhelmed, and filled with anxiety.
I knew my life had to change, but I didn’t know how. I made a big decision with my life. I decided to embrace uncertainty rather than fight it. I took small steps everyday. In three years my dream turned into a reality.
My dream – I want to be a ninja.
I won’t go into details as you can read about it here. The short of it is that I now live on the other side of the world – in Japan. I train in martial arts full time while working just enough to cover my expenses.
Uncertainty has become as routine as the dishes in my sink.
Uncertainty Can be developed
Uncertainty is scary. But if you can learn to face it, welcome it, and embrace it amazing things can happen in your life.
The impossible can be possible.
As I have learned to embrace uncertainty, I have dared to take steps that I otherwise never would have. The result: I live in the historical city of Kyoto while training in martial arts full time. It’s a different life, and one that has become possible because I was willing to step forward into the unknown.
Uncertainty and life go hand in hand. So if you want to make the most of your life it is critical that you learn how to embrace uncertainty.
Here is the thing: you can develop your ability to deal with uncertainty just like any muscle.
So with that being said, I want to share with you 10 practical methods to develop your uncertainty muscles.
10 Ways to Increase Your Ability to Embrace Uncertainty
1. Acknowledge it
Accept that uncertainty is simply part of life. Understanding this prevents you from trying to develop the perfect plan.
Once you accept that there is going to be moments of uncertainty it allows you to push forward through fear – rather than trying to eliminate it.
2. Personalize it
This exercise can be very powerful.
Visualize your uncertainty as a human being. What will he look like? How will he act? Is he fast paced? Slow paced? Intense? Passive?
Next give him a name.
Now have a conversation with your uncertainty. What does he talk about? What does he bring up? What are his reasons? At some point in the conversation ask him: What do you want from me?
This exercise allows you to get to know your uncertainty from an outside perspective. If done correctly you will get to see, hear, and understand your own fears.
3. Practice embracing uncertainty in everyday life
Uncertainty is scary and it always will be to a degree. But you can practice doing things in your everyday life that will increase your comfort with uncertainty. The critical part is to start doing things that give you discomfort. This will train you to welcome uncertainty.
For example you can start taking dance lessons, singing lessons, learn a new language, etc. Basically anything that puts you out of your comfort zone.
Traveling is a truly remarkable way to learn to embrace uncertainty. In particular, international travel – because when you are exposed to new cultures, new languages, and new environments it causes uncertainty.
As you learn how to function in these environments it builds confidence that you can handle uncertainty.
5. Welcome failure
It is critical that you start to see failure as a fantastic opportunity to learn. The beauty of failure is that it gives such immediate feedback.
If you can accept failure as a tool to learn than uncertainty won’t seem like such a bad thing. This is because one of the biggest fears of uncertainty is failure.
6. Participate in cultural events (that are completely new to you).
This is one my favorite items on the list! It is simple to do, and will definitely bring some uncertainty. Nearly everywhere in the world offers different cultural events. Now in many cases the only people that attend these events are people that are part of the culture or already understand it.
Here is the thing though – attend cultural events that are not part of your culture! It will likely seem strange, foreign, and uncertain. Hence increasing your ability to deal with uncertainty.
7. Actively seek uncertainty
There are opportunities everyday to deal with uncertainty. But you must actively seek it.
This can be done in a variety of ways. Sometimes it can be a simple as trying new foods. Maybe it means starting a conversation at a coffee shop. Maybe it is bigger: you begin volunteering in your community.
8. Remember who loves you and who you love
There is something incredibly grounding about remembering those we love. This is powerful because it brings us back to those things that truly matter in our life. When we remember those we love it can give us the confidence and self esteem to move forward in the face of uncertainty.
Uncertainty is scary.
Sometimes we can get so caught up in all the potential dangers that before we know it we have convinced ourselves of the inevitable end of all humanity if we dare to move forward. Meditation allows us to step back. It can allow us to relax, focus, and become grounded.
You don’t have to start with 2 hours a day. Make it easy, begin with 5 or 10 minutes and build up from there.
10. Start a blog
I get so many emails that say: ”I want to start a blog but…”
Here is the thing: starting a blog is scary. Why? Because what if you write about something and everybody thinks it’s stupid? Or even worse, what if you write and nobody ever reads it? Both are possible and in fact when you start out very likely.
Going through this experience is so good for you! It teaches you how to move forward when you don’t necessarily know what you are doing. It is uncertain, so it will teach you to deal with uncertainty.
Uncertainty is not your enemy. In fact is is the complete opposite. It is your friend, a great friend – if you allow it to be. Uncertainty is beautiful because it means that you nor I can imagine the possibilities of our lives.
But this is the challenge, uncertainty is scary. You have to earn his friendship, his respect. He will continue to test you. The key is to be able to stare uncertainty in the face with a smile.
Either you can find uncertainty or it will find you. This is life. Using anyone of the methods I mentioned above you can take uncertainty and embrace it. You can make it your friend. You can learn from it. You can use it as a vehicle to accelerate your life, rather than tear apart your life.
With uncertainty comes new opportunity.
Today is a new day. Different than every other day in your life. My hope is that today is the day you start to embrace the unknown.
For the comments below:
Which of the 10 ways will you incorporate into your life and how will you do it?
Izzy is a crazy dude. He quit his job as a teacher to pursue his childhood dream: to become a ninja. He now lives in Japan where he trains in martial arts extensively. Check out Izzy’s Ninja Tool Kit – books and tools to help you follow your dreams. You can read more about Izzy’s journey at The 30 Year Old Ninja,
This is part 2 in a 2 post series that deals with uncertainty. If you missed the first post check it out here.