How Comfortable Are You With Uncertainty?
As I look back on 2018, I realize I learned a number of great lessons as they apply to my life and I'll be sharing each one over the next few weeks.
One of the biggest places where I saw personal growth was as it relates to the topic of "Certainty."
When I took a Tony Robbins workshop a year ago in December, he asked us to take a look at our lives and the decisions we make daily and we learned that for each of us, there were two primary motivators. For me, it was the constant pursuit of "Certainty" and "Significance."
As far as Certainty, I realized that much of the time, I made decisions and lived my life because I wanted to be certain of the outcomes. I wasn't comfortable with not knowing or being out of control. So I led my life not risking or allowing things to be seemingly uncertain.
CAN YOU REALLY BE CERTAIN ABOUT EVERYTHING?
As you can imagine, if you are someone like this — someone who likes to CONTROL their outcomes — it's a pretty exhausting way to live. You want to be sure at all times that you can handle what's going on and the funny thing is that life happens, shit happens, and things you could just never imagine happen, and the reality is you actually can't be certain of anything.
So when the owner of the house we had been renting told us that he planned to it at the end of our lease (which was four months away), our certainty of having a great place to live for quite some time was now gone.
Now we were faced with the problem of where to live and the timing couldn't have been worse. We were notified about 14 days before heading off on our one annual vacation, and just about two months before the holidays — a really horrible time when it comes to the real estate market.
I hit the ground running and started checking out Realtor.com with a vengeance, asking around if anyone knew of house rentals, and basically freaking out. We loved the Pacific Ocean view of our current house, liked the neighborhood, and while the house itself was somewhat dated and falling apart, we didn't really have designs on living anywhere else.
LIVING OUR LIFE BASED ON SEEKING CERTAINTY
So we started our new home search and there wasn't much available that fit our specific needs. We were running around daily with realtors and looking at houses and the entire experience was draining. This was particularly so because when you are renting a house, a realtor gets one month's rent as their commission, and here in Southern California, the housing market is so hot, they would rather spend their time selling houses versus renting them. So if you don't take the first house they show you, they don't want to be bothered anymore.
And so we happened upon a house in our same community that was smaller, had no air conditioning, a view of a cinder block wall, and was also dated. It was about three days before we were to depart on vacation and we put an offer in to rent the house and were awaiting the confirmation and lease to sign the next day.
That night I couldn't sleep at all. I tossed and turned and felt something was just not right. We honestly weren't excite about the house. We were stressing out about all of the things we would have to give away to fit in the house and the ways we would need to change our lifestyle because of this particular house.
During the wee hours of the morning I asked myself if we were signing the lease because it was a house that we really wanted to live in for the next few years OR we were doing it to check the "home search" off the list so we could go on vacation and have the certainty of a place to live when we got home?
The next morning as I brought the subject up to my husband, he couldn't disagree that we just wanted to have this task checked off our list. And then I remembered what was perhaps one of the most profound quotes of that Tony Robbins workshop:
That was a really hard statement to absorb and put into practice. So difficult, in fact, that I had to print it out on paper and post it around my home — on my bathroom mirror, in my office, and in my kitchen. I had to remind myself that it was okay for things to be uncertain because just maybe, something even better than I could have imagined will show up — but in reality, I couldn't be certain of that, either.
GETTING COMFORTABLE WITH UNCERTAINTY
And so we went off on vacation not knowing about where we would live. The reality was that we had a little less than four months to find a place to live, so the fact that we wanted to jump at a house that was nothing we wanted was crazy. If our lease was about to expire and we had no place to live, then yes, I would think about taking a house that wasn't quite what we wanted, but now? That would have been a crazy move.
Mind you I didn't stop thinking about the house hunt nor did I stop looking and sit back thinking it would just show up without some effort. But every day I worked hard to be comfortable with the not knowing. And I think I actually did spend most of the vacation relaxing and not scouring Realtor.com!
While we were away a friend had sent me a link to a house that I quickly looked at, but then rejected because it said it was not pet friendly. We got home and went to see a gorgeous house online that was for rent in a neighborhood we never knew about. We saw the house and fell in love with it and immediately put in a high offer for the rental. But as it turns out, the house had been for sale for half a year prior and the owner put it up for rent to see if she could perhaps rent it. Wouldn't you know, the day after we put in our rental offer, an offer to buy comes in and we were out a house again. More uncertainty.
But the good part of that experience was now we knew about this new area which was high on a hill — actually a hill we could see from our present house — and offered a spectacular 180-degree 700 feet above sea level panoramic view including one of the ocean a little farther away.
And then I remembered the house that my friend had sent me when I was on vacation and realized it was in the exact same neighborhood! I kept calling the realtor and he said the current tenants were moving out and he wasn't showing it for a while. And so I had to sit in more uncertainty. The temptation to go see houses that were not what we wanted arose daily, but I held my ground and focused on what I really wanted.
I'm not going to lie — it was really uncomfortable being in this uncertain place. But I just kept breathing deeply and repeating my Tony Robbins' mantra.
I hounded this realtor for weeks until he finally gave me a sneak peek of the house. It was modern and gorgeous and had the most spectacular view. It was better than the house we were currently living in and something I could have never imagined. And we got a lease on it — a better house, spectacular view, and, if you can believe it, at a lower rent!
IT TAKES DAILY PRACTICE TO LIVE WITH UNCERTAINTY
My ability to be okay with not knowing where we would end up paid off. Our new house is so amazing and has such a warm, welcoming, open, vibe that truly feels like a sanctuary for us. The qualify of our life IS so much better because we were okay with uncertainty.
While I'm still not 100% okay with uncertainty every day, whenever I find myself starting to get a little frantic and stressed because something is not 100% certain, I think back on this experience and remind myself it's okay not to be certain, because when you think about it, while we might think we are certain, we never really can be.