Why is that when we don’t know the outcome of something, we imagine the worst? Think of the last job you were waiting to hear about, or how you feel when your boss asks for ‘a chat’. What about when you’re waiting on test results. Our default position in our heads is usually negative, right? Someone else will get the job, your boss thinks you’ve f*cked up, and you’re about to get shitty news on the health front. The rationale is that this type of thinking can help protect us from the shock of worst case scenario, like a security blanket. But sometimes the blanket turns out to be an explosive vest, blowing our dreams to smithereens and stopping us from living the life we want to live.
I had my tarot cards read late last year, in the hope that I could find out whether I should or should not move abroad for a new job. Hindsight has allowed me to realise how ridiculous that sounds. A pack of pretty pictures can’t tell me what to do…jeez, even the people who know me best didn’t have ‘the answer’. It did, however, take me asking everyone and their clairvoyant what I should do, to make me realise what the answer was – that there is no answer. There were only options and neither were right or wrong. There may have been two options in front of me – move abroad or don’t move abroad – but each had thousands of potential outcomes depending on the vast variables at play in this game of life. This in itself made me feel like a tidal wave was about to hit. I was swept up in a tsunami of panic, bowled over by the potential implications of this massive decision. ‘If I do this, this and this, then this will happen. But if I do that, that and that, then that will happen.’ Times a thousand and three. But when do things ever work like that? What we play out in our heads as future reality is rarely how things go, and often we’re pleasantly surprised when things take an unexpected turn for the better.
It’s challenging not to feel unsettled when your future has many outcomes, but there are a few simple things that we can do to help calm any bubbling bouts of anxiety that may make an appearance.
1. Take comfort from signs where you find them. I’m a bit of a fate fan, and I had so many spooky coincidences once I’d taken the plunge and accepted the job in Australia – the city I’m moving to appeared in newspaper articles, news from the southern hemisphere seemed to be everywhere I turned, and I met Australians everywhere corner I turned. It was likely because I was hyper sensitive to this major life decision, but it still helped me to think that I must’ve ‘done the right thing.’
2. BUT, you need to remind yourself that there is no ‘right thing’ when it’s all to play for. Risk- taking can be the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do…just don’t you dare beat yourself up if the change doesn’t turn out to be for the better right away. I promise you that there will be a life lesson/grander plan/ultimate outcome awaiting you along the way. Trust in yourself.
3. Research, research, research. Don’t freak yourself out with the negative you stumble across, but arm yourself with the knowledge you need to make the best decisions, the most informed choices and the greatest future plans possible. Google doesn’t have to be your BFF though – speaking to people who’ve been there, done that is by far the most enlightening way to help you on your journey.
4. Plan for every eventuality you can think of. This will help conserve energy for the curveball challenges that might arise. When I was emigrating I scanned every important document – P45, P60, evidence I’d paid my mortgage over the last year, birth certificate, divorce papers, medical letters – the whole paper trail of my life to date. I thought through the consequences of informing all organisations and people that might need to know I would no longer be living in the UK. My boyfriend couldn’t believe that I’d considered what I needed to do so I wouldn’t get called for jury duty! ‘Just incase’ was my middle name.
5. Remember your strength, breath and be brave. You’ve been through tough times before, and you can breeze through this unsettling period. You got this babe.
If someone invented the perfect formula for decision-making, I’m pretty sure they could sell it for billions, because we all want to know what’s going to happen, don’t we? Or maybe we don’t.
Maybe most magic and motivation comes from mystery and surprise and hope. Our optimism would vanish if we knew our fate, and what kind of world would that create? One where no one bothered or cared or tried. No thanks!
So I implore you to embrace – not fear – the unknown, for it is here where we realise just how awesome we can be.