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  • Writer's pictureLucy Qian

Navigating through Uncertainty: Three Life Lessons

Updated: Apr 23, 2022

We all experience some degree of uncertainty in lives. You may find yourself at a crossroads in your career, wanting more but feeling unsure of the outcome. Your business may be at an all-time low and you are unsure of if or when things will improve. The pandemic has brought various changes in our lives and we are yet to see when things will return to normal…

The feeling of uncertainty can be so overwhelming that we lose perspective of our realitiy. Sometimes the anxiety of not knowing how things will unfold drives us to take on any task that gives us the fantasy of security. We end up being exhausted, yet still not be able to feel secure. Other times, our behaviors are the opposite. We procrastinate as though by doing so we can maintain the feeling of control. The truth is, we missed the opportunity that could have made a difference in these uncertain situations.

If you resonate with the above situations and want to find ways to better navigate through uncertainty, read the following three lessons that I find particularly useful while sailing through unpredictable weather in my life.

Lesson 1: Train yourself to live in the present

When facing uncertainty, there are usually changes that we don’t expect. Since the present moment isn’t what we desire, we resist accepting it by giving more attention to the past or the future. You may experience this while waiting to hear back after an interview with your dream company. In that period of waiting, your mind fills with scenarios of receiving the results, good or bad. What is the consequence of living in the future or the past? You don’t have the chance to live in the present moment, the only time frame when you can change your situation. By living in the present, you will be surprised to find that you can’t be worried, overwhelmed, or exhausted. Training yourself to be present is the first step to get unstuck during time of change and uncertainty.

What does being present really mean? It’s simple. You are present when all your five senses are present. The Five Senses Exercise is an efficient tool to bring yourself back to the present moment wherever you are.


5 things you can see

4 things you can touch

3 things you can hear

2 things you can smell

1 thing you can taste

Experience the touch of the clothes on your skin.

Feel the air on your face. Let your eyes receive color and form without any comment.

Be aware of the sense of taste and smell.

Let your listening extend out to the furthest and gentlest sounds.

The more you bring your mind to the present moment, the more possibility you can see from your current reality.

(Source: LinkedIn)

​“When you are present, the world is truly alive.” Natalie Goldberg

Lesson 2 Acknowledge what truly brings you security

When we have uncertainty, we tend to focus on what is not yet in place, instead of what is already here. That gives us a false sense of security: as long as we achieve what we don’t yet have, we will feel secure.

When I felt anxious about my business, I went to my own coach. The coaching conversation made me realize that one key deciding factor of my sense of security is my perception of personal growth. When I perceived myself growing, I felt safe and content. When I felt lack of growth, I became desperate. The problem was that my perception of growth was biased. I perceived growth mainly as planned milestones which were expected and measurable. I neglected the fact that personal growth could not be planned. Rather, it could just be about trusting the process and trusting myself. If I held tight to the type of growth I expected, I would be disappointed. But if I took a step back, I would see the bigger picture that I was gaining so much patience by dealing with difficult times in my business that I would be more comfortable and confident with uncertainty in the future. Realizing that I didn’t stop growing in the low of my business allowed me to feel secure and centered again.

One way to find out what leads you to feel truly secure is to examine your personal values. Your values give you strength and serves as a guidepost in difficult times. I have examined my values every year for five years now. By comparing the results each year, I find that certain values that are always on the top list. This is how I know what my core values are.

If you are not sure of your core values, one quick tool to examine your values is through the VIA Character Strengths Assessment. It’s a free online test that takes you only 20 minutes to complete. If you already know your values, I encourage you to reflect on them. What gives you security? Which value(s) do you think is most critical in helping you navigate through the situation?

Lesson 3: Break your fears through conscious choices

If we can’t live with uncertainty, then there are usually some fears involved. In the book Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, the character Haw finds that his cheese is gone, and is quite uncertain of whether he will find new cheese again in the maze. Haw is hesitant to leave a seemingly safe place to find new cheese because the fear of failure dominates.

I have seen my coaching clients as well as myself at a standing between Points A (a fear about something in the future. “If I do this, something bad will happen”) and Point B (a current pain that is experienced, consciously or subconsciously, because of being afraid to do what they want to do). In Haw’s case, he is afraid he will fail if he goes out, but if he doesn’t go out, he feels more desperate with each passing day.

During uncertain times, we procrastinate our decisions because the pains between Points A and B are balanced in our minds. We are trapped in the middle. When we stay between Points A and B, it costs us time and energy to constantly shift back and forth. We isolate ourselves because we don’t want to be at either end. By avoiding a decision, we seem to feel “safe.” But over time, we become small and powerless, the opposite of feeling safe.

Breaking your fears is a tough experience. There is no golden formula to resolve all your fears. Having coaching conversations is a great approach to work on patterns of fears that have stopped you getting what you want.

The questions below may serve as a starting point to raise your awareness of your fears and allow you to think about your options when feeling stuck.

​1. What are you really afraid of right now? 2. What is costing you to stay where you are and not where you want to be? 3. What if you didn’t have the fear, what would you do differently? 4. What is your compelling vision for our situation?

It’s inevitable for us to experience uncertainties. Here are the keys for you to follow:

1. Are you able to bring yourself back to the present moment and focus on what’s possible now?

2. Do you know what makes you feel truly secure that gives you strength no matter what happens?

3. Are you aware of the fears that are holding you back and how do you choose?

What’s your experience with uncertainty? What works for you? What doesn’t? I am keen to learn your experience and insights!

If you like this post and would like to receive such lessons and insights drawn from real life stories, you can subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Your email address will NEVER be rented or sold.

Lucy Qian, Life Coach, PCC (ICF)


About Lucy Qian, International Life Coach

Lucy’s clients say that she has a superpower for helping them see clear direction and next steps, no matter how confused they are in the beginning. Through coaching with Lucy, they become clear about who they are and know what they really want.

Lucy is a certified coach in different settings: Professional Certified Coach (PCC) by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), Certified Laser-focused Life Coach by the Life Coaching Group, and Organizational Coach by the Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership.

In her blog, A Journey to Clearness, Lucy shares life experiences and lessons from her practice as an international life coach.

Learn more about Lucy Qian.

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