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Living with Uncertainty…AAAUGH!

Transitions are a bitch.  I’m smack in the middle of one right now.  Maybe you are too.

I’m reminded of a cartoon.  A frog is leaping from one lily pad to another with a look of sheer terror as he realizes he’s about to miss his target. The caption read: ‘Just when you think you’ve made ends meet, someone moves an end’.

That’s exactly how it feels to be in transition—whether it’s a conscious choice (like my partial sabbatical) or an unwelcomed disruption (like a job loss).  You’re poised mid-air between the old and the new, wondering —what do I do now?

I remember my first big transition, back in the 80’s, when I moved to San Francisco…a dream come true. But as soon as I settled in, I wanted to jump out of my skin. This wasn’t what I expected.

By chance, I picked up the book Transitions: Making sense of Life’s Changes by Bill Bridges. To say it changed my life is an understatement.

Bridges points out that primitive societies had rituals to give meaning to life’s transitions. Initiates were taken out of their villages, into the wilderness, where they didn’t know what was going to happen next.

“Every time we make a change,” he explains, “We take a metaphorical journey into the wilderness.” But nowadays, no one is there to guide us.

Fortunately, Bridges became my guide, reassuring me that uncertainty is a vital part of the transition process.

This ‘in-between’ period is not a time to commit. It’s a time to contemplate, to feel our feelings, to grieve our losses. Even, like those primitive societies, commune with our spirit guides.  We need to unhook from the past before we can create a new future.

Even now, I hear Bridges reminding me:  the more you can tolerate, even embrace, uncertainty, the quicker you will get through it.

Eventually, at some point, you’ll feel a fresh burst of energy. Opportunities will appear. Loose ends will come together. Out of the chaos of uncertainty, new beginnings will inevitably emerge.

But until that happens, I have to say: Traversing uncertainty is like taking foul tasting medicine. Just because I know it’s good for me, doesn’t mean I have to like it.

How have you embraced uncertainty in your transitions?

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Comments & Feedback

  • Freida

    I am experiencing great transition in my life, as my rent has been increased unexpectedly by $300/month, and I cannot afford the same. In addition, I work a contract job, that is uncertain every day and trying to secure a full-time job with full benefits and as I have not had a paid day off in over a year.

    I have to find a new affordable, safe place that I like. I have to find a new job that is not a lateral move financially but better. I exercise faith rather than fear during this transition. I know that God will not leave me nor forsake me, and that he will give me wisdom and guidance to make it through whatever it is I face. That is what helps to bring me through each and every day, as I realize I can’t make it not one day without my faith and reliance on God in my life.

  • Katharina Feil

    Moving from NYC to Philly last year was a major transition. While I knew theoretically that it would be, I did not enjoy the real feelings of being unhinged that came with it. The tough part of these transitions are the unwritten rules on how long it takes before one can take the next step. First one has to sit back and settle in with the uncertainty, the feeling of floating and the loss of control. That river takes over for a while AND that river won’t talk to me. It will just do its thing by throwing me around.
    It’s all counter intuitive and not something we are used to any more. And yet, it all has lead my family – with whom I was lucky enough to make the transition – to an expansion in many ways. An expansion to what we now do on a daily basis, a widening of horizons, the experience of having moved and the thrill of finding new friends. We also discovered new ways to make it through the change: meditation, more yoga, trusting ourselves, looking for faith communities. And , for me, for sure, relying on Barbara’ s wisdom passed on to me during my 2016 “Year To Wealth.”

  • Renee Sugar

    Uncertainty is the inspiration that allows me to recreate my life when the unexpected happens, which it always does. One evening after work; I returned to my “home” of thirteen years. There was torrential rain storm, rain so strong it was a sheet of water. When I arrived at my apartment I found several people inside, uninvited!!! They were carrying my furniture and placing it on bricks so it wouldn’t sit in several inches of water that had penetrated the wall. I had to grab a suitcase, and held my hands in the air stating that ” I didn’t live there anymore” but not certain where I would be living? I stayed in guest suites, for about 1 1/2 months, until a unit became available that was being renovated. It was next to the one I had to leave. There was no carpet or anything on the windows, I felt like a squatter living in a garage. Eventually it was painted, and carpet was installed, and wooden window blinds, but I never got too attached to the outer shell after that experience.

  • Joanne Menon

    Barbara I love your posts. This one, and especially the God = Money, both touched me deeply. Since your One Year to Wealth class the growth is still blowing my mind. Transition is an understatement!!!!! My entire town of Ojai nearly burned to the ground in December the day after my husband returned to England, leaving me to evacuate my kids, pets, and dad out of assisted living for three weeks. Once I returned to endless ash, I had to literally STOP doing everything. I had no energy to help those in my town, I cancelled all my classes, and I literally couldn’t work because I felt like everything was being ripped away. It was dark to say the least….followed by epic mudslides in my other favorite stomping ground of Montecito….it was heart-break piled on heart-break piled on heart-break. My family stepped up to help at that time financially, emotionally, and physically….even coaxing me to “do Christmas” in the midst of total destruction. With heavy, yet grateful heart I did it. Once past the holidays, knowing I needed quiet to process this epic event and loss of my husband back to England, I tuned into my heart and opted for a 3 month sabbatical “unless God literally drops clients in my lap with zero effort”. During my self-induced break not only did God deliver 2 clients while I was resting at a generous girlfriends villa in Cabo, but i claimed my guest room as an office (FINALLY) and a week later was offered another gorgeous office down town Ojai with two others for only $122 per month. I still can’t believe how cheap it was in one of the most in-demand, central locations in town. I simply had to say YES to space for ME. I claimed the downtown office space and realized I still needed to keep the new home office for my personal financial world which had been scattered around the house in the past. It wasn’t working!!! Immediately after accepting the downtown office, I was offered another job as a spiritual counselor and creativity teacher at a beautiful local resort in town. My dream come true! I would not wish the experience of transition or loss on anyone as I experienced it, but I KNEW in my heart something massive was shifting and I had to surrender completely. Stop “doing” entirely. And ALLOW my good to come to me rather than chase it down. I am not fully out of the woods or the dark yet, but doors are opening with ease and grace and I am walking through them. <3

    • shannon

      I feel like the above comment by Joanne … loss upon loss upon loss upon loss. And I too am armed with the One Year to Wealth in my back pocket. Also interesting to note, a very large part of my learning admits the losses is that Prince Charming really isn’t coming. This book & that lesson are a very large part of my transitional year ( 1.5 yrs actually ) right now on every level & not just men. It has been a very painful time but I too am fortunate enough to take some time away from working ( Sold my small biz in Dec ) and for that I am eternally grateful.

      I also know there is a massive shift and I also know to TRUST in this very uncomfortable & oftentimes sad time in life but it sure was nice to read it from you today in this post. I know the rainbow comes after the storm and I am really working on not DOING & just BEING ( being so grateful (as well )daily for the ease of all my days without having to work ) … I am definitely doing a lot of “feeling the feelings & grieving the losses ” and as a death doula I have infinite trust that if you feel the feels healing comes.

      I am grateful for this sentence ” This ‘in-between’ period is not a time to commit. ” as it is so easy to get suckered into believing ” i should be doing something right now, starting a new company, going to get a job etc etc ” so thank you for that. When people ask me what I am doing ( they are implying working ) I tell them ” I am letting my brain catch up to all the changes “. An older woman replied once to that “must be nice ” and I smiled and said ” it sure is ” !!!

      I will put Bill’s book on my “to read” list.

      Thanks Barbara I really enjoyed reading this post.

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Meet Barbara Huson

When a devastating financial crisis rocked her world, Barbara Huson knew she had to get smart about money… and she did. Now, she wants to empower every women to take charge of their money and take charge of their lives! She’s doing just that with her best-selling books, life changing retreats and private financial coaching.

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