“The hardest thing to learn is not ‘how to juggle’ but how to let the balls drop.”Anthony Frost, in Improv Wisdom by Patricia Ryan Madson
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On this fateful day in 2018, I remember my heart racing as I was called into HR to get the news. My thoughts swayed from, “This is awesome!” to “Oh, shit!”. But overall, something inside me was very much at peace. I knew that this was supposed to happen. This door had to close for the next door to open.
Today—January 10, 2024—marks the sixth anniversary of a significant turning point in my life: the day I was let go from my 20-year corporate job.
Getting Lost in the Corporate Labyrinth
For two decades I had been part of the corporate world, a world I never intended to join. My passion for music, kindled by rock and roll heroes like Joan Jett and Nancy Wilson, took a backseat and started to fade as the realities of “adulting” set in.
When I started this corporate gig in 1998, it was nothing more to me than a paycheck. Slowly, though, it started becoming my identity.
But even as I became more and more invested in this job as a career, a part of me knew that I was drifting further away from my true self. The job became a golden cage, providing a steady stream of income and benefits while silently suffocating my dreams. It felt like a core piece of who I am was starting to die.
Letting Go of the Craving for Certainty
Before this sounds like a huge complaint, I want to emphasize that there were good things that came from my job besides a handsome paycheck. I met some amazing people who remain friends to this day.
I also picked up some great skills that I’m not sure I would’ve discovered on my own, much less honed them to a pro level. I use these skills—project management, public speaking, communication, and leadership, to name a few—every day on my current path as a business owner. Definitely a plus!
What I do regret, however, is allowing myself to get too comfortable. Being risk-averse kept me in the safety of my corporate job, but I was living a life I never wanted to live. Getting laid off was scary, but leaving the office that day made me feel alive in a way I hadn’t felt in years. It was a testament to the fact that sometimes, to live an abundant life, we need to let go of our craving for certainty.
Embracing Uncertainty: 5 Ways to Learn to LOVE “The Wobble”
In her book, Improv Wisdom, Patricia Madson talks about “embracing the wobble,” an idea that deeply resonates with me as a full-time business owner in this post-layoff phase of my life. Madson says:
In the act of balancing, we come alive. Sensations change moment by moment; sometimes we feel secure, sometimes precarious. In the long run we develop tolerance for instability. As we come to accept this insecurity as the norm, as our home ground, it becomes familiar and less frightening. We can stop trying to flee from the wobble.
“And sometimes this sense of being off balance is exhilarating and reminds us of the impermanence and fragility of life, nudging us to appreciate each imperfect, teetering moment we are alive. Perhaps, like surfers, we can come to feel the power of the waves, the majesty of the elements, and a sense of our own place in this swirling universe.Patricia Madson
This idea of finding balance amidst uncertainty is not just about major life changes like losing a job. It’s about the daily decisions we make to step outside our comfort zones.
Here are a few things you can do to embrace this philosophy (without having to lose your job).
Make Novelty a Regular Practice
Embracing the wobble in your daily life doesn’t always require grand gestures or life-altering changes. Sometimes, it’s about infusing your routine with small doses of novelty to awaken and stimulate different parts of your mind.
Explore the unfamiliar Engage in activities that are out of your usual routine. This could be as simple as taking a different route to work or exploring a new neighborhood. These small changes can offer fresh perspectives and invigorate your daily life.
Try new foods and hobbies Experiment with a cuisine you’ve never tasted or start a hobby you’ve always been curious about. Choosing experiences that challenge your usual preferences opens you up to new joys and discoveries.
Awaken different parts of your brain With whichever activity you choose, the goal is to bend your mind in ways it hasn’t been bent before; to stimulate your brain and encourage it to think, feel, and react differently. Try solving a new type of puzzle, learning a musical instrument, or engaging in creative writing, for example.
By making novelty a regular practice, you’re not only embracing the wobble but enriching your life with continuous learning and growth. It’s about breaking the monotony, sparking curiosity, and discovering aspects of yourself and the world that you might have overlooked.
Challenge Your Own Assumptions
A key aspect of embracing the wobble and stepping out of your comfort zone is to actively challenge your own assumptions. This process involves taking a deep dive into your beliefs and routines and questioning the status quo of your daily life.
Reflect on your daily routines Take a moment to think about your regular routines. Why do you follow them? Are they based on comfort, efficiency, or habit? Consider what might happen if you altered these routines. This could mean changing your morning ritual, experimenting with new methods of productivity at work, or even altering your usual social interactions.
Question long-held beliefs Many of our actions are guided by beliefs we’ve held for years, often without questioning their validity. Take some time to reflect on these beliefs. Are they helping you grow or are they holding you back? This could relate to your views on work, relationships, self-care, or personal growth.
Experiment with new approaches Once you’ve identified areas of your life governed by routine beliefs, experiment with new approaches. If you believe you’re not a morning person, try adjusting your schedule to wake up earlier for a week. If you’ve always avoided certain activities because you thought they weren’t for you, give them a chance. You might be surprised by what you learn about yourself.
Request feedback from others Sometimes, challenging your assumptions requires an outside perspective. Talk to friends, family, or colleagues about your thoughts and routines. They might offer insights that you hadn’t considered, helping you to see your life from a different angle.
By challenging your own assumptions, you’re not only opening yourself up to new experiences but also fostering a mindset of flexibility and adaptability. It’s about being willing to question and adjust, which is crucial for personal growth and embracing life’s uncertainties.
Seek Out New Perspectives
In the journey of embracing life’s uncertainties and wobbles, one of the most enriching steps is to actively seek out and engage with new perspectives. This means stepping into conversations and interactions with people whose experiences, viewpoints, and backgrounds differ from your own.
Engage in diverse conversations Actively look for opportunities to engage in discussions with individuals from different cultures, professions, or age groups. These interactions can offer insights into ways of life and thinking that are different from your own and broaden your understanding of the world.
Attend events and workshops Participate in events, workshops, or community gatherings that are outside of your usual interests. This exposes you to new ideas and philosophies and can be an excellent way to challenge your current worldview.
Explore a variety of media and literature Delve into books, documentaries, podcasts, and articles that present views or information that you’re not familiar with. This could involve exploring topics that you’ve never considered before or listening to voices from parts of the world you know little about.
Volunteer in different communities Volunteering can be a powerful way to immerse yourself in new environments and understand social issues or community dynamics that differ from your own. It also offers a chance to contribute positively while learning and growing.
Be open in your conversations Approach new interactions with an open mind and a willingness to listen and understand, rather than with the mindset to debate or convince. This openness is crucial for truly absorbing and appreciating new perspectives.
By seeking out and valuing new perspectives, you not only gain a richer understanding of the world but also develop empathy and a greater capacity to adapt to change. This pursuit is an integral part of embracing the wobble and finding balance in the ever-changing tapestry of life.
Embrace Learning Opportunities
A crucial aspect of embracing life’s uncertainties and stepping out of your comfort zone is to actively seek out and embrace learning opportunities. Each new skill or piece of knowledge, no matter how small it may seem, represents a significant step in your personal growth journey.
Pursue a variety of interests Don’t limit yourself to what you already know. Explore different fields and subjects. This could be anything from a cooking class to a basic coding course, or even learning a new language. The goal is to diversify your skills and knowledge.
Set small learning goals Break down your learning into achievable, bite-sized goals. This makes the process less daunting and more enjoyable. For example, instead of determining to become fluent in a new language immediately, focus on learning a few phrases each week.
Document your learning journey Keep a journal or blog about what you’re learning. This not only helps reinforce the new information but also allows you to look back and see how far you’ve come, which can be incredibly rewarding.
Learn from mistakes View mistakes as part of the learning process. Every mistake provides valuable insights and is a step toward mastery. Embrace them, learn from them, and move on.
Share your knowledge One of the best ways to solidify your new skills or knowledge is to teach them to others. This could be through informal discussions with friends, starting a study group, or even volunteering to teach others.
Stay curious Cultivate a mindset of curiosity. Always ask questions, explore, and seek to understand more. This attitude will not only make learning more enjoyable but will open doors to unexpected and exciting opportunities.
By embracing learning opportunities, you’re not just acquiring new skills or knowledge; you’re building resilience, adaptability, and a deeper understanding of yourself and the world around you.
Reflect on Your Experiences
An integral part of embracing uncertainty and new challenges is taking the time to reflect on your experiences. Reflection allows you to internalize lessons learned and gain deeper insights into yourself and the world around you.
Keep a reflection journal Start a journal dedicated to your thoughts and feelings about new experiences. Writing down your reflections can help you process and understand your experiences more deeply. It can also serve as a reminder of how far you’ve come and the lessons you’ve learned along the way.
Practice mindful reflection Regularly set aside some quiet time to simply think about your recent experiences. Mindfulness practices like meditation can help you reflect without judgment and see your experiences from a different perspective.
Discuss with others Sharing your experiences with friends, family, or mentors can provide additional insights. Sometimes, others can offer a perspective you hadn’t considered, enriching your understanding of the experience.
Connect the dots Look for patterns in your experiences. How do they relate to each other? What overarching themes or lessons emerge? Understanding these connections can provide clarity and direction for future choices and actions.
Celebrate progress and growth Acknowledge and celebrate milestones, big and small. Reflecting on your progress can inspire you to continue moving forward.
Apply lessons learned to future situations Use the insights gained from reflection to inform your decisions and actions in future scenarios. Doing so will lead to personal growth and development.
By reflecting on your experiences, you not only deepen your self-awareness but enhance your ability to navigate life’s uncertainties with wisdom and confidence. This reflective practice is a powerful tool in the continuous journey of learning, growth, and embracing the wobble of life.
In the end, embracing uncertainty is more than an act; it’s a mindset. It’s about seeing life’s unpredictable nature not as a threat, but as an adventure. It’s about understanding that the only constant in life is change, and learning to ride the waves of uncertainty with grace and a mindset of curiosity.
If you’re looking to deepen this connection to your inner wisdom and embrace uncertainty with confidence, I invite you to download my free guide, “The Intuitive Edge: A 7-Day Transformational Journey to Reconnect with Your Inner Wisdom.” This guide is designed to help you tap into your intuition, empowering you to navigate life’s uncertainties with a renewed sense of clarity and purpose.