Have you ever felt like you were just not good enough? That somehow everyone had received the handbook for life, except you? Do you keep waiting for the moment when you will finally arrive and feel like you have made it?
Yes, I have been there too. When I was younger, I was sure that age 35 was when I would definitely arrive at my full self — that I would finally become who I really was and who I was meant to be.
When I turned 35, I was in a state of shock when I realized I had not arrived at this age as I had imagined. I did not have it all figured out. Far from it.
How had I arrived at this spot in my life and still felt like I had so much to do to get where I wanted to be in my career? With so many unknowns?
I felt angry.
- Angry at myself for being so uncertain about my future
- Angry at all of those people who supposedly had it all figured out
- Angry that I didn’t have it figured out by now
I lashed out. I cried. I tried to stay busy, so I could avoid the thoughts that were hurting me so much.
Take a Closer Look to Find the Answer
After many days of doubt and self-loathing, I decided to start writing in my journal again to try to make sense of what was going on. Why I was feeling so much anger toward myself? Feeling so inadequate?
From that reflection, I realized that my insecurities stemmed from my recent decision to leave my corporate marketing career and become a writer.
I felt like I was starting from scratch again. There were so many uncertainties and so many things I had to learn. Should I really be doing this now?
But I knew that if there was one thing I would regret not doing in my life, the answer was being a writer.
That was how I decided that I had to start from somewhere, even if it was from the beginning again — to build the life and career I wanted — and that meant dealing with uncertainty head on.
We are all wired to want to control our environment. Once we let go of control, we are able to understand that change is a constant part of life.
Here are four ways I learned to embrace uncertainty. These tips can be helpful anytime you’re starting something new or stepping into the unknown.
1. Reframe Imperfection
Perfection is a shield we use to hide from our true gifts.
The most ironic thing I discovered is that those things I thought were my biggest imperfections are actually my greatest gifts. This was so freeing.
So first and most importantly, we must reframe what imperfection means.
By embracing our imperfections not as faults, but as a demonstration of our unique gifts, we can see our strengths more clearly.
2. Avoid Seeking the Approval of Others
We all want to be accepted and loved. However, to really live the life we want we need to tell the truth about who we are, not wait to get praise or approval from others first.
This is a difficult thing to do, and it takes practice. One thing I learned to do is to keep a Self Appreciation Journal where each day I acknowledge and keep track of the things I am most proud of, the good choices I have made, and the successes I have had.
This type of practice strengthens our trust in ourselves, so we don’t always need to look for others for the answer.
3. Rethink Risks
When we start something new, there are so many things we are uncertain about.
It was helpful for me to reframe these moments of uncertainty and the outcomes of these new actions as learning opportunities.
By taking small risks, we move out of our comfort zone and into the learning zone.
We can reframe outcomes that did not go as planned not as mistakes but as good ways to get feedback and learn something new.
4. Know That You Are Enough Right Now
It hit me that I had been bogged down with a list of all of the things I needed to learn, to master, to do before I felt ready to start the career I really wanted. I needed to stop waiting.
We need to let go of the stories we tell ourselves about where we are supposed to be. We are all becoming who we are every day, over and over again. There is no arrival point.
I like to say this short affirmation when I am feeling stuck: “I am enough.”
I am enough. You are enough. We are enough.
Build the Life You Want
The only thing constant in life is change. To fully embrace uncertainty we must replace fear of the unknown with curiosity.
With a curious mindset, we can see the new pathways that point in the direction of our dreams.
Are you ready to embrace uncertainty and build the life you want?
The world is waiting for us to tell our stories and live our dreams. Let’s get started.
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Minimalism will not solve all our problems.
Unfortunately, we often believe that the goal of simple living is to own as few things as possible—to declutter our homes, organize our lives, and clear our minds. Once we do this, we’ll each find our own private utopia and bask in the glory of our newfound happiness, right?
Real life doesn’t work this way.
Minimalism is not the end game. Chucking material possessions does not necessarily equate to happiness. You could get rid of all your stuff and still be miserable.
Removing the excess will, however, help you discover what does in fact bring you joy—experiences, people, passions—because it’s much easier to find the path once the debris is cleared.
Simplifying may never usher you to your utopia. Even the simple life has its moments of tedium and drudgery and sadness and pain. But letting go can lead to a better life, one that’s worth more than any shiny object.
You can start small, but it’s worth getting started today.
Read this essay and 150 others in our new book, Essential.
In May 2019, Jordan Bates and I (Jon Brooks) met up in London to attend the Rebel Wisdom summit. Having not seen each other in the flesh for 6 months, we thought we’d celebrate our reunion by recording our first ever podcast together. Jordan and I have always had incredible, dizzying, profound conversations about topics […]
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