Handling Uncertainty: When Answers Aren’t Clear

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you had two or more paths to choose from and each was entirely different from the other?

These moments often send us into panic mode because we feel like we are being pressured to make a choice – to choose the path that we will have to continue on forever with no going back. You begin to weigh the pros and cons of each option, fret over what happens if you make the ‘wrong’ choice, and lose sleep over the fact that tomorrow is just one day closer toward needing to make an answer.

Talk about rough.

Handling uncertainty is never easy, especially if it has to deal with a big life choice like deciding which college to go to, what career to enter, or where to move (or not move) next.

It’s in these moments that we wish we could just freeze time so that we could be better prepared to state our answer and begin marching in one direction or the other.

Unfortunately, the second hand keeps ticking and our thoughts begin to become clouded with ifs, ands, or buts. We begin to see handling uncertainty as a burden that has been placed upon us and there is nothing that we can do to escape its grasp.

handling uncertainty

Handling Uncertainty by Being Content in the Moment

I know, this section sounds a little ridiculous. How in the world can I expect you to be content in the moment when you have decisions staring back at you? Chances are that at least one of these decisions has a deadline and you honestly have no idea what in the world you are going to do. You’ve thought, “Maybe I’ll just wing it and decide last minute.” Others of you say, “I haven’t had enough time to organize my thoughts and evaluate all of my options effectively.”

If there’s something I’ve learned, it’s that we as humans don’t like handling uncertainty. In fact, I would go as far to say that a majority of us probably don’t take it well at all. We lose sleep over it, our appetites change, and we become different people because our minds have become so engulfed on all the different futures that could pan out.

Breathe, my friend.

I’m talking to myself, too.

I’m learning that one of the best ways for handling uncertainty is to be content with where I’m at right now. I’m not talking about ten seconds ago or ten seconds in the future. I’m talking about this moment, right here.

We live in such a fast-paced world that we forget to be present a lot of times. We get lost in handling uncertainty because we are lost in time itself. We get frustrated when the answers aren’t clear to us and we begin to stress about making the right decision.

Is There Truly a Right Answer?

Ask yourself, is there truly a right answer to the uncertainty you are experiencing? In some instances, the answer may be yes. On the other hand, there might not be a right answer because both options could make you happy.

The latter tends to stress people out more because that means that your life could be completely dependent on one decision. That’s intimidating!

Can I be honest with you for a minute?

I used to have a very hard time handling uncertainty because I never saw two good options – I always saw a right and a wrong. If something didn’t work out, then I would get on myself about making the wrong choice. I would ask myself, “Why did you choose this option if it was the wrong answer?” I began to search for ways I could have known what the right answer was. I thought that maybe if I could find where I went wrong, then it wouldn’t happen again.

I had to learn that it was okay to have two good choices, even if my answer for which way to go was never completely clear. Maybe that’s why I ended up transferring schools, changing majors, and refocusing my efforts.

Tips for Handling Uncertainty

If you are struggling today with handling uncertainty in your own life, I want to encourage you to do the following:

  • Be present in the moment you are currently living in
  • Don’t believe that there is just one good option for your life
  • Own your choices
  • Create lists if you find them helpful (not stressful)
  • Talk to someone you trust about your decision
  • Get to a place where you’ll be okay with the outcomes

There is no fool-proof method for handling uncertainty in life, but it is possible to feel better when you really aren’t sure what’s next. Trust in yourself, trust in the process, and remain at peace with whatever happens.

You got this.


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  • Shane
    January 24, 2015 at 6:00 am

    Love this! SO very relevant to my life while I struggle whether to stay in Australia for another year!

  • christine
    February 2, 2015 at 7:17 am

    I loved this post! It makes sense to be content with the moment. Right now I am making some huge changes in my life. Some that I can not tell people right now and one I can not do until the end of the year. I do loose sleep over it, my appetite has changed. I can’t stop thinking about it. I am nothing but excited! I am a planner and I have planned almost everything to the last T. This post spoke to me this morning. Thank you so much for this!

    • Tori
      February 2, 2015 at 7:20 am

      I’m so glad it spoke to you, Christine! I think we all go through moments where we have to make choices, often times not easy ones. I hope that whatever you are dealing with will turn out to be an amazing journey full of happiness!

  • Jessica
    February 2, 2015 at 8:52 am

    Great words! I find it SO HARD to be content with where I (we) are sometimes. I want to do, forge ahead, make progress, etc. which usually ends up in me making a bad decision or a decision where I end up second guessing myself.

    • Tori
      February 2, 2015 at 8:56 am

      I totally agree, Jessica. I find it hard to be content because I’m always looking ahead for the next best thing. Unfortunately, that makes me miss out on the present moment which can be amazing in itself.

  • Miranda @ Miranda Writes Blog
    February 2, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Uncertainty is definitely hard to deal with, because ultimately it’s dealing with fear. But you’re so right. Living in the present moment and taking stock of what is actually happening instead of worrying about what could happen (good or bad) is the best approach. Of course, it’s much easier said than done. Haha! Luckily. most of us will get a lot of changes to practice this as we all face uncertainty at some point in our lives… =)

  • Pam Rote
    February 2, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    I love this thought–“there might not be a right answer because both options could make you happy.” Sometimes we put too much stress on ourselves!

    • Tori
      February 2, 2015 at 9:52 pm

      You are so right about that, Pam! I think sometimes we psych ourselves out when the reality is that we have two good choices to choose from.