3 Tips to Overcome the Fear of the Unknown for the 20-Something

snoqualmie_falls

the road to Snoqualmie Falls, Washington.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, I have come to that inevitable precipice that all of us encounter during our 20-something years – the fear of the unknown. With my work contract soon to end, no concrete job prospects in sight, and an overall feeling of indecisiveness, I have found myself on the edge of that deep dark crevice, struggling not to fall in. However, the calm and collected individual that I, I have approached my situation as a new challenge rather than a black hole of fear and panic. I have decided to do what I have always done – establish goals and work my way towards them in order to persevere through this time of uncertainty. Here’s my advice on how to begin your journey through the dark waters we all find ourselves in at one point or another in our turbulent lives.

1. Clearly Spell Out the Known

It is really helpful to establish to yourself what you know rather than what you do not. This will allow you to understand which aspects of your life you can and cannot control. If you can control the knowns, it will alleviate the pressure of not being able to control the unknowns. For example – I know that I have a few things lined up that I need to take care of and that I haven’t had time to take care of them so my time off will be well-used for that. I also know that I would like to go on a trip during my time off so I need to understand how to accomplish that. Finally, I know where I am with my finances – spelling that out for yourself is really helpful, especially right before you may potentially lose your main source of income. Make some spreadsheets, do some budgeting, and really understand how long you will be able to sustain yourself in your particular circumstances. This is important because this will enable you to build actionable goals and make plans accordingly.

2. Understand What You Want

It is equally important to understand what you want to accomplish during this time of the unknown. I know that I would like to continue working within my field and would like to attain a permanent position in either the food, beauty, or hospitality industry. I also know exactly what I’m worth and what type of organization would best be suited for me. Knowing that, I want to keep applying to relevant jobs so I can get interviews and keep my options varied so that I can get a position most suited to my needs. As I mentioned previously, I also want to go on a trip during my time off, so I need to make sure that I can afford to do so while money is tight.

3. Make A List of Goals to be Accomplished

And I mean this literally. Write it down and set some tentative deadlines and deliverables for each goal. Be realistic but also give yourself some leeway. For example, I know exactly how long I can stay unemployed based on my budgeting calculations. I also know that companies like to hire in the 4th quarter so I need to step up my game and do 5 job applications per day in order to accomplish my task of getting interviews. I also need to make a list of names I can reach out to for potential help with job opportunities. Setting concrete deliverables will spell them out for you and make accomplishing them easier. This is a great method to not get overwhelmed, especially during a time when you are stressed out and don’t know where your life is going. Accomplishing small tasks will allow you to reach your bigger goals in a more organized and manageable way. And best of all – you will see concrete progress along the way.

rattlesnake_ridge

I love stumbling into great thinking spots. This one is at Rattlesnake Ridge in Washington.

 

Taking all this into consideration, life is still unpredictable and you will have to face your fear of the unknown despite trying to cope with it. This is really hard. Especially when it comes to money. Try to retain a positive outlook and stick to your daily tasks that help you accomplish the goals you set. My biggest advice is to NEVER stop trying. This is not inspirational nonsense, this is a simple law of probability. Chances are, if you submit 100 applications, at least 1 will answer you with an interview request. You just have to keep going, whatever it is you’re struggling with – job, relationship, etc.

It’s hard, but it happens to everyone and I promise you will come out of this experience a more knowledgeable and stronger person. Some days may suck and you will feel like running away somewhere (hopefully tropical) like I often do, and you will want to cry and keep kicking 120-lb punching bags, both for exercise and out of frustration, but it will get better. Triumph through the up’s and down’s – it’s just life – and don’t forget your friends – emotional support is everything during our most trying times. Keep them close and cherish your relationships with people – they will help you cope with whatever life throws at you.

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