This month, we’re talking about tools you can use to make healthy changes in your life, especially changes you find hard to make. Yesterday we talked about visualizing the change you want to make.
Today, let’s talk about uncertainty, and why it will pop up (frequently!) when you’re making healthy changes in your life and why you don’t need to fear it. In fact, I want to encourage you to embrace uncertainty whenever it appears!
I know from my own efforts to make healthy changes, and from talking to women and reading comments from readers, that many of us feel uncertain. We don’t know exactly what we should be doing. We wonder if what we’re doing will work and if our efforts will pay off. Sometimes, we wonder if we should even bother.
And those are fair questions, because we’ve all experienced times when we tried to make a positive change but weren’t able to do it. Or we made the change, but then weren’t able to maintain it.
And so we feel uncertain and ask ourselves over and over –
- “Should I even try?”
- “Should I go all in?”
- “Will this be the same as last time?”
- “Am I just setting myself up for disappointment?”
- “Is it worth it?”
You have to answer those questions for yourself; no one else can answer them for you. You’re the only one who knows what the change would mean to you, how much you want it, and what kind of effort it will take to achieve it. (Includes affiliate links.)
I will tell you this, though – if the change is something you’ve wanted for a long time, if it’s often in the back of your mind, if you know in your heart that it would be really, really good for you – then it’s very likely that the answers to those questions are “yes, you should do it; no, it won’t be the same as last time; no, you’re not just setting yourself up for disappointment; and yes, it’s worth it.”
And if you’ve decided to go for it, to make the healthy or positive change in your life, health, or family that you really want to make, then here are the two best things I can tell you:
- Feeling uncertain and afraid is completely normal.
- You are not alone – every woman who’s working on making healthy or positive changes or trying something new is feeling the exact same thing.
You won’t know all of the answers when you start. And if you’ve already started, you’re likely still looking around and trying to find the right answers.
If you want to lose weight, you won’t necessarily know which eating or exercise plan is going to work best for you, or whether stress or sleep issues are affecting your weight. You won’t know exactly how you’re going to find time to plan, shop for, and prep healthier meals – or how you’re going to find time to exercise.
If you want to make positive changes in your marriage or family life, you won’t know exactly how to proceed. You won’t be certain what to do first (or next) or how your spouse or other family members will respond.
And if you want to pursue a dream, start a business, or change your career (or make some other big life change), you’ll probably feel certain that you have absolutely no idea where to begin.
In other words, almost everything will seem unclear, and you’re likely to feel uncertain about how to figure things out – or if it’s even worth the effort.
All of that is normal, so don’t let it frustrate you.
Instead, I want you to consider this quote from Cathy Heller, author of the “Don’t Keep Your Day Job” book and podcast – “Clarity comes through action.”
“Clarity comes through action.”
That powerful statement means that you have to start moving before you can even begin to see what works and what doesn’t. You won’t see your way through the uncertainty until you begin to take steps and start moving forward.
You won’t figure everything out by sitting down and thinking through all of the possibilities (although, of course, it’s good to have a plan). Instead, you’ll figure things out and move through the uncertainty by doing – by taking action, one step forward at a time.
In other words, you’ll have to embrace uncertainty.
I kind of hate that, because I really like to think about things, make a plan, mull things over in my mind, read a book about it, etc., etc. It’s just so much safer to think and plan than it is to act.
Safer, but approximately 95% less effective!
So if you’re feeling uncertain and don’t know exactly what to do, go ahead and embrace that feeling as normal and completely expected. Then begin to push through it by taking steps, one at a time, that will help you move toward your goal.
And pay attention to what you learn, and what new ideas, paths, and information become clear to you. Because once you start to move you’ll be amazed at what you begin to see and learn. Interesting ideas will pop into your mind, you’ll meet people who know something that helps you, you’ll come across books and articles that give you a great tip or a new perspective, and you’ll figure out easier ways of doing things that have always seemed hard.
Because uncertainty is completely normal – so embrace it – and clarity really does come through action.
Use the Tool – Do this today or tomorrow. For the goal you’re working on right now, or want to work on first, identify at least two things about making this change that scare you or make you feel very uncertain. Then, decide on one step you can take that will move you forward on each of those things. That’s it – two steps, one for each of two things that may be holding you back from making the change you really want to make. Then lather, rinse, and repeat – at least 3 times a week, identify one thing you can do to move forward through fear and uncertainty and do it.
For example, let’s say that you make jewelry, and you’ve really been wanting to turn your hobby into a business, but you’re intimidated by the process and have no idea where to begin. Uncertainty about how to move forward is holding you back. So acknowledge it, accept it, and then identify two things that are driving it.
Maybe you’re scared of the technology you’d have to master in order to open an online shop. Maybe you’re worried about interacting with potential customers at craft fairs. Maybe you think you need a business plan but don’t know how to create one. Maybe you’re scared that people won’t like your jewelry. Or maybe something else entirely is driving your uncertainty.
Once you’ve identified two fears or unknowns that are keeping you from moving forward, plan one small step that you can take to make progress on each of them. Take those two steps, then identify two more. Keep going (do this at least three times a week) until you’ve made progress addressing those two fears. Then work on two more.
Let me know how uncertainty gets in your way and what you’re going to do to push through it. It’s not easy, and I’m not good at it. But when I do push through uncertainty and fear, I’m amazed at what I learn and what I can do. Leave a note in the Comments, or email me at hello @ healthylifetoolbox.com – I’d love to hear from you.
You can find all of the tools in the Healthy Life Toolbox here.