woman runs along the beach as the sun sets and seaguls fly around over the water in the distance. Image by Kristyn Miller Photography

embracing uncertainty:

a season of preparation

It feels as though we’re all kind of waiting, doesn’t it?

tiny premie baby feet rest on a new mom's leg while she feeds the baby a bottle and learns the importance of embracing uncertainty

Waiting for guidance, waiting for information, waiting for bookings, waiting for business, waiting for everything to be…something other than what it is right now.

In this season, where it seems that so much is uncertain, so many people are feeling like it’s better to wait and see what’s going to happen with everything (fill in the blank here – with coronavirus, with the election, with school, with the economy) instead of embracing uncertainty and making a move, in any direction.

This weird place of indecisive pause can feel paralyzing and totally disempowering, for big dreamers and down-to-earth thinkers alike. It’s easy to feel like it’s all going to just happen *to* us, and we’ll only have control over our reaction to it, but not much else. If you’re like me, you’ve run through every version of what school or daycare might look like in your brain a million times – and juxtaposed that with your and your partner’s work schedules or business goals, and probably come away with your head spinning. How can we make a plan when there’s so little to “plan” with?

But does it have to feel that way? That can’t be the only option.

photographer kristyn miller laughs as she walks barefoot on the beach with her camera

Image by Virginia Greuloch

Sure, there’s a lot that is uncertain outside of ourselves right now. But one thing that is totally in our control is deciding just how we’re going to show up when these moments of decision-making arrive. It’s so easy to forget that so much of what influences how our lives unfold is how we think about what’s unfolding, and how we’re going to ready ourselves to take action in the meantime by embracing uncertainty and accepting it as part of our “now” normal, if not our “new” normal.

photographer Kristyn Miller holds an umbrella off to the side on a rainy day in Connecticut while laughing while she shoots a wedding Image meant to represent how embracing uncertainty can lead to magical creative epiphanies.

Image by Taylor Lenci

Because here’s my philosophy on waiting: a season of waiting can become a season of preparation and embracing uncertainty can be a catalyst for new creative energy and change.

In my conversation with Cathy Heller on her podcast Don’t Keep Your Day Job, I talked a lot about the value of taking action and embracing failures as valuable experience. That’s never been more true than it is in this season of uncertainty. Part of how we create progress and momentum is by continuing to take action toward the thing we want to achieve by continuing to do the things to allow us to show up as our best selves when that future finally arrives.

Photographer Kristyn Miller stands on the shore of a beach at sunset photographing a woman in the ocean kicking up the surf and smiling

Image by Virginia Greuloch

How do you do it? Here are some of the ways I help my clients (and myself!) keep going with purpose by embracing uncertainty when it’s hard to see the way forward.

1. Get Moving.

Especially with so much time spent closer to home, it’s easy to get out of the habit of moving your body – but oxygen gives you clarity, and getting the blood flowing will shake off that feeling of stuckness, literally! Even fifteen minutes (with kids or pets in the mix too) can make a difference.

a woman in a white long-sleeved shirt and jeans dances in front of a large series of windows with her hair flowing in a spin

2. Get off Social Media.

Yes, social media can be amazing for your business and your creativity and keeping in touch with your community. But is it moving your big ideas forward and out into the world? Gift yourself windows of social media free time, whether it’s by deleting the apps entirely on occasion, or just monitoring how much you’re using them each day.

a buddha statue rests with hands on knees and head on hands on a flat rock in a beautiful and peaceful garden and pond setting

3. Get space.

Clarity is hard to come by when we don’t invite it in. Whether it’s through meditation, or gardening, or taking the dog for a walk a few times a day, your mental-space-maker of choice can be the ultimate prioritization tool for your day. You might feel like it’s not “productive” time, but chances are good it actually increases your ability to get clear on your priorities and get moving even when you have less time than you used to.

a close up of a woman's open hands in meditation with a beautiful green space and pond in the background

4. Get Connected.

Commit to reaching out to 5 people a week with personal notes or ideas. That commercial brand client or wedding planner you haven’t heard from in 6 months might not be actively hiring creatives right now, but they also don’t know you’re working and at the ready unless you tell them. And when was the last time you reached out to your family photo clients, checking in to see how this season is treating them? While sometimes connections like this lead to immediate work (Hooray!), it also can serve to bolster the long-term relationships that really serve our growth with the biggest impact. Feeling like an overachiever? Go for ten, people!

a grandmother holds her toddler grandson and laughs with crinkly eyes while the rest of the family looks on during this family photo shoot with Kristyn Miller Photographer

5. Get prepped to fail.

Yep, I said it. The big F word. Failure is just the state of experiencing a different result than you were hoping for. The emotions around failure are often actually way messier than the circumstances themselves. The biggest reason we fail? Because we took action and tried something different! Better to “fail” and gain some important intel about what doesn’t work than to learn nothing at all about what’s possible, right? There is no right formula for how to make progress, it’s just trying this and then trying that. Rinse, repeat.

a woman stands before windows, hands on heart, eyes closed, meditating on embracing uncertainty and moving forward through it

6. Get learning.

I often tell my clients to start a numbered list, 1-25. Every time we have an outcome that was different than what we expected from a new or untested idea? Put it on the list. When you get to 25, give yourself a little treat and celebrate all the things you’ve learned.

two young blonde sisters under four run across their chalk-decorated driveway in the late afternoon sunshine

7. Get dreaming.

It’s SO easy to convince ourselves that uncertain times are precisely the wrong times to be dreaming big dreams and bringing them to life — that’s precisely the time to get innovative and put yourself out there. Big things happen because of a daily commitment to moving ahead, one step at a time. Keep a vision of that big picture outcome in your head and be open to all the different ways it might come to life.

a golden lab cross lays on his back in the grass smiling as he teaches his owners and family the importance of embracing uncertainty and just rolling along with life

If there was ever a time to embrace uncertainty, it’s when you’re in the middle of it. Instead of resisting what we don’t know with even more waiting, decide you’ll be the one to create what’s possible. Decide who you’ll be when the future arrives – even if you’re not sure what that will look like yet.

And if you need a little help and you aren’t sure how to move forward with your business and learn how to work within this uncertain season, let’s chat.