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How to deal with fear and uncertainty when creating change

How to deal with fear and uncertainty when creating change.Creating change in your life or work can feel hard, even when it is a change you really want and are excited by.

Part of the reason for that is that change can trigger strong feelings of fear and uncertainty that feel excruciatingly uncomfortable.

Those feelings can hold you back and get in the way of progress. They can stop you from achieving the change you want.

Having a practical way to proactively deal with your feelings of fear and uncertainty can make the difference between staying stuck or moving forward.

A good starting point is to shift your focus from dwelling on the fear and uncertainty and to focus instead on what you can do to empower yourself to move forward with confidence.

To help you get started with creating that focus shift, ask yourself the three questions below. Use the answers that come up for you to create clarity and work out your next steps to effectively deal with fear and uncertainty so that it doesn’t keep you stuck and to put foundations in place to set yourself up to create change successfully:

1. What is the worst thing that could happen? Can I live with that? What will I do if that happens?

When you have worked out the worst thing that can happen, decided if it is something you can live and be clear on exactly what you will do if that worst-case scenario happens to helps you to manage your fear and uncertainty more effectively.

It puts in you in position of proactively making decisions based on well thought out risk assessment.

Use your answer to this question to form a contingency plan. Having a strong contingency plan is like having a safety net. And a safety net helps reduce fear and uncertainty from holding you back.

2. What is the best thing that can happen? What difference would that make?

When you stay focused on why you are creating this change, what all the benefits will be, and the best thing that will happen when you reach the other side it is easier to move forward despite the fear and uncertainty. It helps you stay focused and motivated to keep going, even when the going gets tough.

It is important to stay clear on why you are creating this change and all the benefits. What is your “why?” Create a clear vision. Stay focused on the best outcome and the difference that would make. Use that to fuel you and motivate you when fear and uncertainty rear their ugly heads.

3. What needs to be in place to make it safe for you to create the change? What action will you take to put those things in place?

A great way to deal with fear and uncertainty when creating change is to shift your focus to what needs to be in place to make it feel safe for you. Create awareness of what things would help you feel safe then take action to put those things in place.

It is important to keep this in mind:

Fear and uncertainty aren’t necessarily a bad thing. They can be a useful message that there are some things that need addressing or considering so that you can create change successfully. They only become a problem when you allow them to get such a vice like grip on you that they keep you stuck.

Feelings of fear and uncertainty are common when creating change. But you have the power to choose what to do about those feelings when they arise. That choice can be the difference between staying stuck and moving forward. Your call.

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  • Generation Above Me

    At 49, I quit my job as an English teacher to retrain as a gerontologist. It was scary, but exhilarating, too. All my best to other people making big changes in their lives. I can report that it was worth all the risks.

  • That is wonderful. Congratulations.

  • Excellent points! This month I write about breast cancer and any disease can be a big change. Using the points you list can help negotiating a health change that impacts the entire family and possibly your career path and future plans.

  • Yes, these three steps can be used to support any area of life. Powerful to use them in the way you suggest.

  • Roxanne Jones

    Wonderful, insightful advice, as always, Ali! I just recently went to a four-day workweek, something I’d been “trying” to do for years. After a recent health scare and losing a friend to a brain tumor, I let go of all the fear and uncertainty and focused on the best things that could happen if I cut back on my workload. And they’re coming to pass–less stress, more time to play, clearer focus/more efficient on the days I do work, feeling in control of my destiny chief among them. As is often the case in situations like this, now I’m wondering why I didn’t do it sooner!

  • Congratulations Roxanne. That is fantastic.

  • Judy Krell Freedman

    I’ve had so much change in my life the past 10 years and now that I’m approaching 60, I thought things were going to slow down. Doesn’t seem that way!

  • Judy, wow, sounds like you have had a lot going on. A reminder that change is a constant in life and part of each chapter of our life, no matter the age.

  • Having made a huge life change this past year, I can say that considering those things you mentioned went a long way toward easing the stress, particularly the first and second. Usually, the answer to “what’s the worst that will happen?” isn’t really all that horrid. It’s our imaginations that become stumbling blocks, and the change is made easier when we imagine the best even as we prepare for the worst.

  • Lisa, great to hear that using these points in your big life change last year were helpful. They can make a big difference. As you point out, often fear and uncertainty come from out minds running riot with us and these three things help focus in on key things that help us with that.

  • Really good points/steps here. Thanks for this!

  • So glad you found it useful Beverly.

  • Nethleen Aniñon

    I’m working as an HR Assistant in a big company. Every time i have to go to the big boss (CEO) my heart is beating so fast. I think I am afraid to see him and ask me any questions regarding my papers. Is there any way to change these fears? Or how to deal with fears such like this? Can you help me?

  • Working on mindset habits can be helpful in situations like that.

  • Nethleen Aniñon

    Thank you so much Ali. I will do my best on this.