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One year until Brexit – tips to handle uncertainty

Insight

05 April 2018

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Last week, the media was consumed with stories about Brexit, and not surprisingly, given the clock has now only one year to countdown until we leave the EU. Yet the stories and reports aired were filled with conjecture, providing little certainty about what life will be like in April 2019.  

And maybe like me, this is leaving you with a sense of unease, with your mind whirring away trying to come up with a solution or possible outcome for all the Brexit unknowns. Your brain is searching for something to make you feel more comfortable.

Our brain is an amazing problem-solving machine. This serves us well when we are grappling with dilemmas that can be thought through and have a foreseeable range of solutions. Do I enrol in this course? Do I select this person? Do I work on these goals?

But sometimes our dilemma is too big for us to come to a decision with any degree of certainty.

But with Brexit, although it’s within sight now, many questions can’t be answered. What will be the impact on my job? How will my company be affected? What will happen to wages? How will the economy fare? Where will I be able to recruit employees from? Nothing is certain or in your control. It’s easy to feel like an emotional storm is coming as we count down the next 365 days.

If you find this uncertainty difficult, here’s what you can do to thrive in the looming shadow of Brexit: S.T.O.P.

Slow your breathing:

  • Take a few deep breaths to anchor you in the “now”, mindfully observing your breath flowing in and out.

Take note:

  • Notice what’s happening right now – what you are thinking, feeling and doing. Notice how easy it could be to get caught up in those feelings and thoughts.

Open up

  • Make space for your feelings and breathe into them. Step back from your thoughts, without holding on or trying to push them away.

Pursue what’s important.

  • Connect with your values and ask “What do I want to stand for in the face of this uncertainty and the challenge of Brexit? How would I like to act so I can look back years from now and be proud of my response?

Most of us will face challenges in which we have little say, and that’s certainly true in the case of Brexit. Unfortunately, it’s like the old age, “You don’t get to choose the deck of cards you are dealt.” But we do get to choose how we play the cards we have.

So, a useful question to ask yourself this week, and in the next 51 weeks, is: “Given this hand I’ve been dealt, what’s the best way to play it? What skills and capabilities can I develop? How can I learn from this? What opportunities are there for me to grow so I am better equipped for the future?

And take the next steps right now – in the next few minutes, the next few hours, the next few days, so that when 364 days have passed, you are well equipped for whatever happens post Brexit.

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