How to Deal with an Uncertain Future

In this time of mergers, corporate downsizing, The Great Resignation and, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic, millions have found themselves in job limbo. For many, this is an anxiety-inducing state. It’s important during this time to take steps to control what you can, identify a strong support system, and do what you can to not let your swirling emotions paralyze you. It would be foolish to claim there’s a one size fits all method of coping during uncertain times, so instead here are some suggestions to help you as you navigate unknown terrain.

  1. Collect as much information as you can

    If your company is going through a massive change like a merger, a split or cost-cutting, tactfully ask your boss and your HR department to give you as much clarity as possible. They might not have all of the answers you seek, but any insight is helpful. If you’ve left your job or are planning to, research job market trends, discretely talk to contacts outside of your organization about what they’re seeing or sensing, and keep a close eye on business news in the media. If you’re looking to transition to a new arena, it’s even more important to learn as much as you can about your new field and strategize how your current skills will translate. Knowledge is power in any job, so the more you have, the better off you will be.

  2. Take time for personal reflection

    While you want to look outward for information, you also need to look inward and gauge your emotions. Step away from your phone, even your kids for a few minutes, from all distractions, and sit with yourself. As author Glennon Doyle wrote in her best-selling memoir Untamed, “This is why we say to people, ‘Calm Down!’ Because beneath the noise, the swirling, pounding surf is a place where all is quiet and clear.” Doing this will help you handle accompanying anxiety.

  3. Don’t obsess over things you can’t control

    Recognize the things that are under your control and the things that aren’t. During unpredictable times, anxiety can spiral into full-on obsession. That’s why you also want to find time for yourself, engage in activities that fulfill you and take your mind off of your job. Yoga, exercise, taking a class, even binge-watching a show you’ve been dying to see can all help you unwind.

  4. Have a good support system

    It’s not about the quantity here, it’s about the quality. It’s important to find at least one caring, level-headed person you can talk to about your situation and the fears you have. It can be a circle of close girlfriends, a sister and of course a partner. You need someone who cares about your well-being, will be positive-yet-honest with you, and is in it for the long haul as you adapt to whatever happens next.

  5. Reflect on past experiences

    Everyone knows Ben Franklin’s famous quote, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” In other words, you’ve no-doubt gone through uncertain times before, whether changing schools, moving, getting married, having children, finding a job. The truth is, difficult times—especially the ones that feel earth-shattering—provide the most opportunity for growth. So each time you’re faced with a new challenge, you can look to your past, see what worked and what didn’t.

  6. Follow a schedule

    The physiological consequences of stress can lead to a disruption in your sleep and eating patterns. To counteract that, try sticking to a schedule. It’s the one thing you can control. Consistency in wake up and bed times are important, and can give you a much-needed sense of structure and control.

Judy Smith advises Presidents, celebrities, Fortune 500 companies, and was even the real-life inspiration for Scandal’s Olivia Pope. In other words, when it comes to solving problems large and small, she’s the best. She can help you face—and overcome—the toughest challenges in your professional and personal life, so you can unleash your full potential.

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