People naturally crave certainty. We want to know what will happen, when it will happen and how it will affect us. While we all require different levels of certainty to be productive, we are all affected negatively by uncertainty. Uncertainty can cause higher levels of stress and impede our decision-making process.
The reality is that uncertainty is part of life. We can never know what will come next and how it will affect us, but what we can know is how we will react when uncertainty comes into our lives. We can prepare ourselves ahead of time without knowing what will come.
Clarity and anticipation can be antidotes for uncertainty. They will not cure all our anxieties or worries and will not shield us from negative, unpredictable events, but they can help us feel more prepared for the events that will happen that are out of our control. To gain clarity when setting goals, we must first confront and accept reality by looking at our current situation and analyzing it objectively. From that vantage point, we can gain a better understanding of where we are trying to go, what might get in the way and how we need to react when we face obstacles and opportunities.
Think about a child learning to ride a bike, an activity with a clearly defined goal that requires perseverance to achieve. The child (and the parent!) must first anticipate the reality that the child will probably crash at some point and could be injured. My Dad experienced this firsthand when I crashed headfirst into his recently washed, brand new car as I struggled mightily to navigate my way around our cul-de-sac! Even though a crash is painful and disappointing, preparing for its probability makes it easier to handle when it happens. Having the clearly defined goal of learning how to ride a bike and anticipating what might happen during the learning process are the keys to the child persevering and gaining bike-riding mastery.
As you think about your goals for 2021, pursue clarity and anticipation to combat uncertainty, with the following steps as a guide:
- Define Your Goal – What do you want to accomplish?
- Confront Reality – Where am I today and what could help or hurt my progress?
- Persevere Through Obstacles – Overcome the challenges because you anticipated them!
- Focus on What You Control – How can you act to positively affect an uncertain situation?
- Learn and Adjust – Update your process to set and achieve your goals.
How can clarity and anticipation help you achieve a goal this year?