Dealing with the Unknown

This week finds me on the road again. This time, I’m traveling to attend a conference, not speak at one. It’s a nice break, but it creates a few challenges. The one that’s perhaps the most challenging (and maybe even most silly), is that I’m staying with a friend and her folks without a car. What’s the big deal? Well that’s a really good question.

For many of us, the big deal is about control. While at someone else’s home, we aren’t in control of schedules, food, plans or in this case, a ride to somewhere. While I’m accustomed to taking taxis and Lyfts, this feels different somehow. I’ll be staying late at the conference one of the evenings and meeting up with my niece. My host will travel home without me. And I’m nervous about catching a taxi late that evening.

When I really thought hard about what was making me nervous, it boiled down to that one piece of the unknown. I have to get a ride late at night by myself, and it’s for more than just a quick, normal hop from the airport to the hotel. It’s a decent trip through the city to my hosts’ home.

Many of us find ourselves in these scenarios all the time. We face unknowns and there’s something about the unknown that bothers us, but we’re not quite sure what it is. Once I was able to narrow things down, I found my anxiety lessened. I could focus on the one thing that was probably most scary for me and figure out what I would do in that one scenario.

For you, in your changing and unknown work world, you may be facing an unknown new boss or co-worker. You may be facing potential shifting roles or reorganizations. You may be facing being unexpectedly unemployed and seeking a new job in a new market with new techniques for job interviews.

Whatever it is you are facing, odds are good, there’s one thing about the process that’s more disturbing than others for you. Find that one thing and determine what you can do to ease your anxiety in that one area. Then you can tackle another thing.

Ask yourself:

1. Why does this unknown piece bother me?

2. What can I do ahead of time to make the situation better?

3. What do I need to hear that reminds me that many people have done this very thing before and survived (and even thrived) the unknown?

There are going to be sometimes when there’s not a lot you can do, but there’s always something. Sometimes it’s as simple as choosing your attitude toward the change. Sometimes it’s choosing how you treat those who are creating the change for you. Sometimes it’s conquering your fear of the unknown and embracing the scary as do-able.

We all have things that make us nervous. It’s up to us if we let those things control us or if we take control of those things.

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