How to Manage Yourself Through Uncertainty

career advancement career advice career burnout leadership development nail it! team building May 01, 2024

Ever get distracted from all the unknowns? 

I was recently developing a mini workshop for a manager who is worried about how to keep her team on track amid some challenging circumstances. The circumstances: they maybe going through a merger. They are understandably concerned about their future. 

While dedicated and focused on the tasks at hand, the team was experiencing feelings and reactions like we all do in times of uncertainty - mainly distraction with what we don’t know! 

The challenge for me is to help them manage themselves—and their work—through this time of uncertainty. 

I know a lot of professionals are coping with stress and uncertainty these days. Whether it’s something like a merger, unsure about your career path, or even the personal stuff that comes up unexpectedly and needs our attention. I wanted to share some of my process with you that I use myself when I get distracted.

It’s from the “Deal with the Difficult” chapter in my book, NAIL IT: A Strategic Roadmap to Career Advancement.  The exercise below, is adapted from page 62 of the book.

Building your Inner Resilience — Move Anxiety into Action 

Thinking of the situation that poses an unknown, consider your responses to these questions.

  • What I know (list all of the facts about the uncertainty or stress):
  • What I don’t know:
  • What’s not quite right?
  • What, if anything, can I get clarified?
  • How do I want to ‘be’ in this situation? (i.e. confident, curious, fair, etc.)
  • What’s my cue that I need to reset and get back on track? (i.e. do you start talking quickly/ withdraw/ crack jokes when you’re out of your comfort zone? )
  • What are some milestones I want to commit to so I keep myself moving forward? (i.e. you could update your resume; book a mentor meeting; create a list of your top achievements in your current role so you have them ready to share)
  • Finally, what’s a touchstone you can place in your workspace to remind you that you’ve faced challenges before and come out okay. One of my clients placed a carving of an Inukshuk she received as a gift as a reminder there are many guideposts on her path. Make it meaningful and tangible.

With these answers written down, you have the beginnings of a framework to help you manage change and uncertainty in your career and most importantly, ideas for your intentional next step on your path.

When you’re feeling stuck in place or caught between choices, your career satisfaction suffers. Anxiety can stop us in our tracks. But when we can move through that—move to action, we can regain control and get clear on where we’re going and how we can get there. 

Need help focusing on what matters? I help growing leaders, ambitious founders, established executives - and their teams - make easier career choices, seize new opportunities, know where to focus their development efforts and what to measure.

It all starts by breaking down uncertainty and developing tools to help you move from anxiety to action.


To Your Career Success,

Karen Kelloway, BPR PCC
Your Career Story Editor