Words by

Tyson Day

Published

October 8, 2020

Dealing with uncertainty in your career

No matter your age, no matter your occupation and no matter your industry. At some stage, you will find yourself facing uncertainty and an unclear future in your role and career.


It will be terrifying, it will feel uncomfortable, and you may feel overwhelmed with fear and anxiety. For many of us, we have felt this in the last 3-6 months, with multiple people losing their roles and experiencing organisational restructures and job loss. Unemployment will continue to rise in the coming months, and I, for one want to make sure that people in our community feel like they can cope with the ongoing challenges of facing uncertain and unclear times.

When dealing with uncertainty and unclear horizons, we can forget about some of the essential elements and coping skills that we have at our disposal to make sure that we can deal with these unpleasant feelings. Coping skills are 100% designed to cope with a situation (well, that is my definition). For more in-depth discussions on coping skills tune into our podcast episode with Dr Cassie Delmara 😉

When we deal with uncertainty in our career, it is essential to think about the first question of ‘Is this in my control? Yes or No?

If yes, what is the appropriate action or advice I need to seek?

Perhaps it may be new skill development or a change in your approach or a habit that you need to change or create. E.g. Spending hours in your email inbox, which is preventing you from doing the work that you love that is apart of your role. So a new habit needs to be created to help you combat this and move forward. More on this in a future post 😉

If no, how can I move forward with minimal disruption?

In many cases, organisation restructuring and redundancies are beyond the control of the individual. It then becomes a conversation about how to manage that process and move forward to a space that allows you to pivot or transition into something that brings you joy and fulfilment. This can often be met with a wave of uncertainty, and therefore the development of coping skills becomes even more critical. Or it may be that the course or role you have applied for has been put on hold and you find yourself with no enrolment or employment outcome.

Moving forward on any of these challenges is about managing yourself, first and foremost. Over the last few months, I have been sharing in our presentations and coaching sessions the importance of a few key pillars / coping skills when it comes to dealing with uncertainty. Clients have found them as a great reminder which sparked me to write this blog.

These pillars/coping skills include:

Self Awareness

Validate that you are uncomfortable and understand what the leading cause of this is. Perhaps you need to log a journal or write down your reflections on how you are feeling. I know for me personally the Bullet Journal Method and the Morning Pages concept has helped me tackle my own thoughts which have produced further Self Awareness around what has made me uncomfortable or an area of improvement.

Kindness to Self

It’s okay to feel stress occasionally, its when the stress adds up and builds over and over. I personally find this hard in many cases as one of my core values is Growth, and many times I need to feel uncomfortable to feel like I’m growing. However, this, as I have learnt, can cause further harm if you don’t take stock and be kind to your self in moments that matter. If we take the above into consideration, allowing yourself space to reflect and not have the answers figured out around what your next move is and which job will you apply for next? Can actually be a huge benefit in the long run of making a decision that is best for your future focus and long term career outcomes.

Limit Exposure to Media

Limit your screen time with both social media and mainstream media and TV. Very often, these outlets of content can have negative impacts on the way we see the world and the lens at which we view our own situation and the people around us. My word advice on this matter is to find a time limit that works for you to stay informed but does not have a negative impact on your mental health.

Reflection

Think of past success and when you have overcome hardship and look for transferable skills and mindsets that you used in that moment. These can often relate to the current situation you find yourself in. For me, the journal process helps with along with time away from my screens. Exercise and time of relaxation through debriefing your thoughts with a partner or friend can also support you in this process by asking the right questions in that bring about positive reflection.

Develop New Skills

Explore what skills or mindsets do you need to develop to ensure that you can move forward. This is a vital piece to allow you to move forward. Do you need to complete some further online training? Listen to a few podcasts or read some books? This is the gateway to turning your situation around. Perhaps it might be the development of further coping skills. On a personal note, when I was able to develop a basic form of meditation, I have found this to help me hugely with dealing with uncertainty and moments that would traditionally increase my stress levels. On the flip side, this might also be the development of tech skills like G-Suite or Photoshop to allow you to become more employable and enter new and exciting roles or opportunities.

Self Care

One of the most important components that underpin all of the above points is the importance of self-care. The famous saying of you can’t look after others if you are not looking after your self. Ensure that you continue and stick to healthy habits, healthy eating, exercise and meditation. These areas not only help you deal with stress and emotional management but contribute to your overall health, allowing you to work harder and play harder when it counts. This is particularly important when job hunting, as your day can be consumed at looking and applying for roles, and your sense of routine can go out the window. An excellent reference for self-care I find is placing time and energy into the following areas:

  • Physical Space, complete exercise and get outside amongst the fresh air.
  • Mental Space, journal and reflect daily and debrief with the people in your home
  • Spiritual Space, complete a basic meditation or mindfulness exercise – check out the calm app or insight timer.
  • Heart Space, practice gratitude and focus on areas that bring you pure joy. This may come in the shape of a hobby or activity which allows you to free your thinking from your work.

As we continue to ride out the storm that is COVID and face future difficult times, it is vital that we continue to move closer to the elements listed above. If you or you know someone who is finding it hard to deal with uncertainty in their work make sure you share these points and or get them to reach so we can support our community through the difficult times and into the future.

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