Feeling lost and uncertain about my future is something that I’ve been dealing with when I went to university. At school, I didn’t bother about my future too much because it was not my priority. However, it’s at the university where I became most uncertain about my future.
The problem with uncertainty is that it causes a lot of stress and anxiety. It makes you feel lost and scared. At times, it seems like you are heading nowhere and you are not achieving anything in life.
We always feel uncertain about something we don’t have much information about. It’s the imperfect or unknown information that makes us feel worried about our future.
The problem with uncertainty is that we don’t like to be uncertain. And we try our best to fill that gap in our lives with certainty. Oftentimes, fake certainty.
It’s not very hard to understand uncertainty because all of us have been uncertain at some stage of our lives. Usually, uncertainty includes:
These are some of the feelings, emotions, and behaviors that accompany uncertainty.
You know that uncertainty happens when you need to make a choice, but you don’t have enough information to decide on it firmly and boldly.
Without that vital information which would help you measure and determine your future right away, you become very vulnerable and lost. In most cases, there are many factors that are pressing on us like time, people, or situation, so we have to decide, and quickly. And when we ask for advice on how to increase sense of certainty, we don’t get any valuable answers.
Usually, we hear something like:
“Follow your heart, passion”, “Wait, don’t do anything”, “Time will show you”
These quotes about uncertainty that should have helped us are making us even more uncertain. In my opinion, “don’t do anything” is the worst advice you can get. I’m already not doing anything, what the hell are you advising me?
So, when it comes to making a choice and being more certain about the future we usually tend to rely on:
The best of these three, of course, is experience. However, when you’re new to the situation and you’re uncertain, you need to have something stronger than just what’s left which is intuition and incomplete knowledge.
Before we try to understand how to stop feeling lost and uncertain about the future, let’s identify the types of uncertainty first.
Based on my perception and observations, I consider two types of uncertainty, let’s just call them Uncertainty 1 and Uncertainty 2.
This type of uncertainty is defined by several factors. Uncertainty 1 is characterized by:
Uncertainty 1 is about knowing your point A and imagining your point B. The problem here is that the path from point A to point B is unclear.
Alan is a freshman. He studies foreign languages and wants to be a translator. The problem here is that Alan is not sure how he is going to land a job without any experience and knowledge in that field.
But he thinks this way only because he hasn’t yet learned anything. As he gets more knowledgeable about what translators do and how they do it, he will stop thinking that he doesn’t have skills. There will be other problems along the way, but he will figure them out.
In the case of Uncertainty 1, it’s really just the matter of time until you make your way from point A to point B.
The key parameters for certainty and success here are:
This type of uncertainty is a little bit different from Uncertainty 1. It’s characterized by:
Uncertainty 2 is about knowing your point A and having no clue what the point B should be. This is a tough place to stay at for long.
Uncertainty 2 is where we feel like we are not interested in anything, we don’t want to do anything, and we are not even sure if we should be doing something.
Obviously, you can’t follow your passion when you don’t know what your passion is. Also, you can’t really follow your heart or rely on intuition because it’s unsure where it should lead you.
I’ve seen many people be in this position. It’s the mindset which can be very easily manipulated, tricked, abused, and misled by some nonsense opportunity or relationship.
Remember I said that when we are uncertain we tend to substitute our uncertainty with fake certainty? That’s exactly where people get stuck in unwanted relationships, turn to gambling or get-rich-quick schemes, become depressed, and finally simply waste their lives. It happens because people strive to fill in the gap with at least some kind of certainty.
Thus, entering the relationships when you’re uncertain provides you with more obligations of a wife or husband which make your duties a bit more specific and the future a bit more determined. And then, you probably realize that you don’t need these relationships and break the family.
Doing something without knowing why you’re doing is a poor strategy, obviously. So, how do you overcome uncertainty and focus on what matters?*
*The example below will show you how to identify your skills for work and get the job because this is where I’ve seen people being most uncertain. For more specific answers, feel free to contact me or drop your comments below.
The only way out is to rely on your knowledge and experience. The problem with that is that, apparently, you don’t have the knowledge and experience. So, how do you get it?
A notebook and a pen should become your best friends. We gonna do some brainstorming here.
One of the ways to get knowledge about yourself and start planting seeds of certainty is too write down why you think other people like you and why you think other people don’t like you.
After that, it’s about writing down what you like about yourself and what you don’t like about yourself.
Finally, it’s about making notes of what you like or dislike in other people. Something that you admire and you wish you had that too or something that they have and you don’t like it because you do it differently.
Everything you note is valuable. You need to focus on documenting your:
You will probably come up with a pretty solid list of things that are worth looking at. But how do you use all this?
From the examples above, you may have figured out that you are a good listener who understands people, has a great potential to learn to be as charismatic and eloquent as Gary and use your creativity to solve problems in a different way. However, what you don’t like is to be working with kids and being selfish.
Now, you need to apply that knowledge to create certain degree of experience.
You’ve just figured out what your potential strengths and weaknesses are. However, it’s just on paper. It is yet to be validated.
One of the best ways to validate your knowledge and skills is to practice them somewhere.
What is this place that combines all these things?
Off the top of my head, I see several examples of workplaces that will help you apply this knowledge and learn new skills:
All these professions include some of the skills identified. Now, the goal is to make sure whether or not you will like these things. Fortunately, there is only one way to test it.
Apply for the job. Whether you have a degree or not, it doesn’t matter. If you’re confident in spending 5 years learning your craft – go for it. If not, then validate it even before you go and study this. You can validate your knowledge and skills even before you go and study something. Try to land a job as an assistant or visit some courses conducted by the company.
Now, what happens if you don’t like anything at all and you’ve failed at everything? Here is what I tell you. Don’t try to play on your assumptions. This is where uncertainty comes into play and you won’t win by playing its rules.
Make sure you have something to be certain about and then go for it to validate it and make it certain. Work on each skill, each emotion that you have.
You need to turn Uncertainty 2 into Uncertainty 1.
And with the example above we have done it. At first, you didn’t know what you need to do, how to do it, and whether or not you need to it. Now, you know that you need to validate each of your skills. This is your goal.
You always know your point A (where you are). The idea is to figure out the point B (where you want to be).
The process of skill, emotion, and feeling validation is the point B itself. Once you do that, you will be able to understand what you want from life.
Goal setting is not hard. However, it’s the essential component of overcoming uncertainty in your life.
Note: You can never be certain in everything, however, you can always validate something through trial and error which is the fundamental method of problem-solving.
This is how you stop feeling lost and overcome uncertainty in your life.
I hope you’ve found this article helpful. Thanks for reading it till the end and I hope you enjoyed it.
If you liked this article share it with your friends and subscribe to my newsletters to get notified when the new post is live. Stay awesome!