How to Embrace Uncertainty When Making Life-Changing Decisions

How to Embrace Uncertainty When Making Life-Changing Decisions

by Jenny Rieger - Founder of Synnection, speaker, writer and coach

Life’s a journey, not a destination.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

If we know one thing to be true, it is that everything changes. Constantly. Some of these changes are subtle. Others are more profound and immediate. The latter ones leave us feeling unsettled. We see the big change ahead and suddenly realize all the good things about the current situation. Sometimes we know we wanted this, but it doesn’t change the feeling. Uncertainty, chaos, confusion set in.

We might start doubting our decision. We might feel like we want to go back to the comforts of the old environment and situation. We might resist the change.

In my case, it was booking a flight to Bali to move there for a few months. It was very exciting at first, but then I started doubting the decision. I felt guilty for going. Thoughts came up, like: “My clients won’t be okay with this.” “I won’t be able to help out my family and friends.” “I won’t be able to work that event job that I did the last two years, I am letting them down. “

I felt nervous and confused. I started telling myself it might be my intuition telling me not to go. I had a knot in my stomach and couldn’t figure out how to get rid of it.

Then I remembered the process of transformational learning. Didn’t I write a whole thesis about this last year?

The transformational learning process is made up of 5 stages: disorienting dilemma, examining self and others, planning, action, and reintegration. The confusion we feel when we make life-changing decisions is called “disorienting dilemma”.

What is this disorienting dilemma?

The disorienting dilemma can be caused through many different factors but is characterized by the inapplicability of the individual’s previous beliefs and assumptions. It can show up in many different forms at different times for each individual: right after making the decision or much later. It’s a state of confusion, (emotional) chaos and uncertainty. But it is also the birthplace of transformation and growth.

How to embrace it?

In the theory of transformational learning, the next step is: Examine yourself and others. The best way to embrace the confusion and disorientation is to ask yourself some questions and start observing your feelings as well as other people who are on a similar path.

Ask yourself: Why did you make that decision? What outcomes do you desire from that decision? Dig deep into the reasons for your unsettled feelings. What are the thoughts that come up with these feelings? Are these thoughts rooted in past experiences? If so, how could you overcome them? Could you maybe approach things differently or would it help to see how the present situation is different from the past experience?

It’s a place for exploration and discovery. Be patient and allow the feelings to be there, while you can rest assured that these feelings are a clear sign that you are transforming and growing. Take it one step at a time.

When you fall in love with the confusion, chaos and uncertainty of the transformational process, the experience itself transforms and change becomes a dancelike experience.


published: 04/29/2015

2 comments on “How to Embrace Uncertainty When Making Life-Changing Decisions

  1. Accepting that chaos is the true order makes life a lot easier. And if I may add – accepting reality as it is without always trying to change it is also a healthy attitude. Great article, thank you!

    1. Thank you Anne! I absolutely agree to your statement. Le’t argue less with reality and accept it as it is. This creates the freedom we are really seeking. 🙂

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