Five Strategies for Befriending Uncertainty

By: Laura Berger

Every rung I climbed on the corporate ladder was giving my ego the success it so craved. But there was one glaring problem: I wasn’t truly fulfilled. Compelled to reevaluate my life and career, I asked myself the all-important question: What truly matters?

What followed was unthinkable for someone in my career stage, I dropped my profession, packed my bags and moved to Costa Rica with my husband.

There was so much uncertainty surrounding this very unconventional move, but instead of letting our doubts run the show, we decided to roll with them. In under a year, the identities we held on to for eons evolved with each new, greater challenge we faced.

I soon realized that the situations I feared the most led to a heightened sense of accomplishment once overcome. I actually started to crave uncertainty.

It turns out that our brains are hardwired to avoid uncertainty. It is what scientists refer to as information-seeking behavior. This phenomenon may explain why we find change generally unpleasant.

Contrary to what your brain signals, my experience has taught me that uncertainty is not the enemy. Rather, these unsure occasions are opportunities that can help you grow when you shift your mindset.

How many decisions do you make on a weekly basis without knowing exactly what the outcome will be? Probably more than you can count. Though most of these decisions are minor, their existence underscores the big picture: Uncertainty is a certainty.

The next time you face uncertainty, use these strategies to turn that situation to your advantage:

1. View uncertainty as if it is always working in your favor. The moment you start trusting that uncertainty is here to strengthen your grit, intelligence and success, you can start freeing yourself from false constraints. This new perspective will enable you to accept the present moment and roll with it. In turn, you will acquire new skills, a newfound confidence and a greater sense of achievement.

2. Observe your thoughts and emotions. Thought patterns are conditioned by past experience, and by the environments in which we were raised. In essence, our thoughts are shaped by the past. By acknowledging them without judgment, rather than immediately reacting to them, you’ll have the clarity to do what is in your best interest.

3. Write down any negative thought patterns. Write down any situations that trigger undesirable behavior, be it procrastinating, getting angry with colleagues or giving up on big goals. By journaling how you react to uncertainty, you can effectively detach yourself from these harmful patterns, giving you the space and confidence to prepare for whatever life throws at you.

4. Get practical. The next time you catch your brain obsessing over uncertainty, Jordan Harbinger, of the wildly popular podcast, The Art of Charm, says to ask yourself the following questions: Can I get this information? Do I need to know this information right now? This rationale will end up saving you the energy you would have spent stressing over something likely out of your control.

5. Commit yourself to the next phase. Many of my clients will reach pinnacles in their careers and then feel it is time for something different. For them, it isn’t time to retire — it’s time to rewire. Navigating a new chapter can make you feel like a fish out of water, but when you fully immerse yourself in your next phase, the new will feel like normal in a flash. Imagine how freeing change will feel once you accept it as if you had chosen it. Though I would highly
recommend a jungle experience, it doesn’t take one to untap your true potential in the face of

This article originally appeared on


Featured on ABC News, CNBC, Yahoo Finance, Redbook, Self, and the Miami Herald, Laura Berger is a certified executive coach and co-founder of the Berdeo Group. Her clients include leaders at JP Morgan Chase, The Walt Disney World Company, Financial Solutions Advisory Group, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. She is the co-author of two books: Fall in Love Again Every Day and Radical Sabbatical.

Get your financial questions answered.

Visit the Savvy Ladies Free Financial Helpline. 

Get the Expert Advice You Deserve.