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  • Writer's pictureRyan Wilson

The Workability of Living With Uncertainty

The only thing in life that is certain, is that we have to deal with a lot of uncertainty…

Things are rolling along smoothly when, suddenly you:

1) are waiting to hear if and where you will be working next year, and it could be anywhere in the country. Wherever you end up will be exciting and interesting, but you also just… (see # 2)

2) learned your spouse’ work will be ending, and you’ll have a few scant weeks AFTER learning where you will be working to figure out where they’ll go… some exciting prospects exist here for your partner too

3) learned a parent was going in for surgery, with a 50/50 chance of surviving it

4) another parent is just diagnosed with cancer, prognosis… unclear

That is a lot of uncertainty.

We’ve often discussed how to cope with a given situations from the frame of: “who do I want to be in the face of these challenges” and follow up with determining what our values are and what actions would be in line with those values.

However, one shoe does not fit all, and today I want to discuss in from the frame of workability.

WORKABILITY is exactly what it sounds like. How feasible is your current course of action. Does it bring about the desired end?

In the above scenario, how would you respond to those big, life-changing stressors?

1) Mediation?

2) Drinking?

3) Exercise?

4) Promiscuity?

5) Talking to a friend?

These are just a few examples and there are, of course, many many ways to cope…. but the question to ask yourself is, how workable is my approach. Surely, no one would judge you for having a drink in the face of any ONE of the above mentioned stressors… but how workable is that for you, what is the consequence??? Will it be just one drink? Even if it is “just one drink”. How workable has having a drink been in the context of what you want out of life?

Earlier this week I was stressing about my dissertation and imminent deadlines. My wife, Adriana, looked at me and said “so what are you going to do with that??”

To which I replied ” Eat a whole pan of my recently made home-made apple crisp and ice cream!” This is particularly relevant as I am currently eating a la “slow carb” [personally, I find it a great way to eat- feel free to look up 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss]. What that means, for our current purposes, is that even though apple crisp and ice-cream is probably never the “healthy choice” it would be a particularly egregious afront to my chosen eating habits as this was in the middle of the week, not on my “cheat day”.

Adriana’s reply was simple:” So, how workable is that?”

She knew, that though there was some immediate payoff, it would ultimately have been an act of punishment on my body in an effort to avoid what I really needed to deal with. Even though, realistically, the short-term consequence wouldn’t have been completely disastrous if I had eaten it, the point was, it was not a sustainable, workable course of action. Continuing to make those kinds of choices (i.e., destructive habits), was ultimately an unworkable situation with serious long-term risks – choosing to eat away my feelings would ultimately create a downward spiral that could lead to obesity and all sorts of health risks.

So the question you can ask yourself this week is: in the face of the uncertainty I dealing with, how workable is my solution.

Think about it with immediate and longterm costs and benefits.

As always, we would love to hear from you here, by email, or on twitter: @kryanwilson or @DrAdrianaWilson.

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