Do you ever get that fluttering, looping, feeling in your stomach when you think about the future? Have you ever thought “I feel anxious because I don’t know what the future holds?” There are often times in life when the road ahead is foggy and uncertain, and where we’re not even sure what our destination is, let alone how to get there.
I’m prone to worrying too much about what lies ahead. I don’t like uncertainty, and I tend to panic when faced with it! After I graduated from university, I took the first job that accepted me, despite the fact it wasn’t in either a location or a career I wanted – in retrospect, a mistake, and a difficult one to undo. And at the moment, I’m waiting to hear whether or not I’ve got a place on a part-time creative writing MA next year: I’ve been looking out for a letter every day, wishing I knew what I’ll be doing in September…
So, here’s a few ways that I’ve coped with uncertainty about my future before. I’m trying them at the moment to stay calm (rather than following my instincts and curling up on the sofa with a giant box of chocolates):
Think about what you want from the future
Part of my problem after university was that I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do; all I’d experienced was being a student! Take some time to think through what you really want – perhaps book a session with a personal coach (never cheap, but it’s money well spent if it helps you set your whole life on the right course). If that isn’t practical, how about getting together for a drink or meal with a close friend and talking through your ambitions with them?
Don’t build “castles in the air”
I am terribly prone to doing this. I don’t even need to have applied for a job or course before I start imagining myself on it, picturing a new life, telling myself how great it will be … Visualisation can be a very powerful motivational tool, but it can also leave you rather disappointed when your dreams don’t come about quite so quickly as you’d hoped.
Focus on the near future
Instead of gazing into the mists of several years ahead, try to focus on the next couple of months. Can you plan a weekend away, a theatre trip, or your summer holiday so that you have something concrete to look forward to? It might also help to think about what you want to achieve in the short term – whether that’s losing a stone before a trip abroad, or joining in a race for charity, or gaining a new qualification … or anything else you like!
Take practical action towards your goals
Maybe your lifelong dream is to write a bestselling novel, but the most creative writing you do is the “avoiding-all-blame” emails to your boss. Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to travel round the world, but haven’t quite got round to renewing your passport … Is it any surprise that you don’t feel very confident about your future?
Find one small action which you can take today.
(Worried face photo by pavelm)
(This post is the second in the “Healthy Mind” series.)