5 Ways to Address Uncertainty

Key Takeaways

  • You can’t remove uncertainty from life, but there are healthy and productive ways to cope with it.
  • Focus on what matters. Don’t waste time and energy on things that are unimportant and out of your control.
  • Get the facts, change your routine and seek the counsel of others. Never stop looking for opportunities.

The year 2016 has gotten off to an unsettling start in terms of the global economy, financial markets, international politics and more. That got me thinking about Daniel Goleman’s  insightful 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence, which delved into our two brains. Goleman argued that we have an emotional brain and a rational brain and how it is very important to understand these two types of thinking. You have to be emotionally intelligent, not just cognitively intelligent. It makes all the difference in the world.

Uncertainty tends to be with us in varying degrees throughout our lives, and there’s clearly plenty of it to go around right now. The markets are uncertain. Lots of things about our families and our lives are uncertain. Most of us don’t enjoy uncertainty, but I want to share five key ways to handle it:

  1. Get the facts. Clear away all the mental debris that’s clogging your mind and just act on facts. As Goleman would say: “You want to go from the emotional side to the rational side” of your brain. Scientifically speaking, that means you want to go from the amygdala (fear) to the prefrontal cortex. That’s where you can think really clearly and go through the facts of uncertain situations rationally so you’re crystal clear about what is fact and what is not.
  2. Listen to others. Look at your mentors. Look at close friends, your spouse and other confidants who will not steer you wrong about the uncertainty you’re dealing with. A trusted outside opinion can be extremely helpful at times like these.
  3. Change your routine. When I’m in a state of uncertainty, I often gather my family together for a weekend of orienteering—a popular European sport that combines running through the woods with on-the-fly navigation via a map and compass. Two days of orienteering in the great outdoors never fails to blow all the negative energy out of my brain. It completely resets me. While orienteering may not be your cup of tea, it’s important to go out and do something completely different from your normal routine in order to reset yourself in times of uncertainty.
  4. Find the opportunities. I have worked with many successful entrepreneurs over the years, and the one thing they have in common is an uncanny ability to find opportunities in uncertain situations. Trust me, there are ALWAYS opportunities out there, no matter how dire or uncertain the situation may seem. Maintaining a “glass half full” attitude can be very helpful.
  5. Focus on what matters. So many things in life don’t really matter and so many things are not under our control. Keep your head clear and spend your energy on what’s important and on what you can control.


Hopefully these five tips will help you steer your ship through the dark and foggy times so you can enjoy everything there is in life. Until next time, enjoy!

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