How You Can Learn to Thrive in the Most Uncertain Times

There are some situations you don’t expect to learn anything from, like watching an episode of Columbo. I love that show, but I consider it pure entertainment and a light-version at that. I recently took a second look at it with a specific goal in mind–to consider what Columbo might say about our current uncertain times.

The most recent Stress in America Survey by the American Psychological Association found high levels of anxiety. No big surprise there, right? More than 75% of Americans said uncertainty about health issues was a source of stress. And nearly 2 in 3 adults say the current amount of uncertainty in our country is also causing them stress.

Nearly 2 in 3 adults (65%) say the current amount of uncertainty in our nation causes them stress. Further, 3 in 5 (60%) say the number of issues America faces currently is overwhelming to them. This finding speaks to the hardships many Americans may be confronting at this moment. Issues they are stressed about are not going away, they are piling up.

At times like these, we could all use a role model who knows how to thrive in the most uncertain times. Hence, my ‘research’ into Columbo. In case you haven’t seen the show, he always got the most puzzling cases to solve, or he got what seemed to be a simple case and immediately complicated it before he solved it.

In every instance, no matter how uncertain the case seemed, Columbo kept smiling and showing up authentically until he solved the case. Let’s see how he did this so we can learn to thrive in the most uncertain times.

What Columbo can Teach us About Thriving in Uncertain Times

lesson 1

Be Authentic

Can you imagine Columbo without his raincoat, 1959 Peugeot, or cigar? When major changes disrupt your routines, you can remain true to yourself. Make choices in that moment that align with your values and it will help ground you.

lesson 2

Be Curious

Consider replacing doubts and fears with curiosity. Researchers tell us found that children ask more than 70 questions a day, but this curiosity tends to peak around the age of 4. Sharpening your questioning skills will help you gather information and make sounder decisions.

lesson 3

Don't Stop

Columbo was famous for coming back for, 'just one more thing'. To reach your goals, it’s important to persevere through every period of uncertainty. Time will pass whether you keep moving toward your goals or not.

lesson 5

Take a Moment

You’ll enjoy life more if you stop rushing around. Living mindfully enables you to accomplish more with less effort. Take a deep breath and shorten your to do list.

lesson 4

Don't Forget Self-Care

Even with a killer on the loose and everybody doubting him, Columbo would stop to eat a bowl of chili or admire a scenic view. Stay strong by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and managing stress.

Bonus ideas for thriving despite uncertainty

  • Shift your focus. Devote your time and energy to changing the things that you can control. Let. The. Rest. Go. Go do something constructive when you catch yourself worrying about the global economy or the state of the pandemic.
  • Resist comparisons. Each of us deals with uncertainty in our own way. Find strategies that work for you instead of judging yourself for being different from your friends or coworkers.
  • Express gratitude. Make a list of things that you're thankful for. You'll feel more connected to others and more hopeful about the future.
  • Reach Out. Talk about your thoughts and feelings. Let others know how they can help you. Give generously and practice random acts of kindness.
  • Limit news consumption. How many hours a day are you spending watching CNN? If politics is making you feel sad and angry, reduce your viewing time.
  • Remember your achievements. Bolster your confidence. Think about your accomplishments and the challenges you've overcome in the past. Show yourself that you're capable of dealing with your current situation. Experiment with applying your skills and strengths to what's happening now.
  • Keep learning. At the same time, it's important to stay informed and educated. Monitor current events once or twice a day to discover developments that are relevant for you. Sign up for online courses that will add to your skills and knowledge.
  • Get counseling. Talking with a counselor may be helpful if you've stopped enjoying the things you usually like to do, or you're withdrawing from family and friends. A brief course of therapy may help you short out your feelings and find effective ways to cope.
  • Think positive. I know, I know. I talk about positive thinking a lot, but that's because it works. Look at the glass as half-full. Studies show that optimism can enhance your mental and physical well-being.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by our uncertain times, think about what Columbo would do. Thinking positively and getting support from others will help you to handle ambiguity. Let me know below if you have other great ideas!

Episode Transcript

Allegra Sinclair

Welcome to the Your Confident Self podcast with Allegra Sinclair. Get ready to punch fear in the throat and gain confidence like never before. I help corporate women get the confidence to ask for the job they want, and do the work they love. Isn't it time you got unstuck and showed the world how fabulous you are?

Hey, welcome to this week's episode of the podcast. There's some situations you don't expect to learn anything from, like watching an episode of Columbo. I love the show, but I consider it pure entertainment and a light version at that. I recently took a second look at it with a specific goal in mind, to consider what detective Columbo might say about our current uncertain times.

The most recent stress in America survey by the American Psychological Association found high levels of anxiety, no surprises there. More than 75% of Americans said uncertainty about health issues was a source of stress. And nearly two in three adults say the current amount of uncertainty in our country is also causing them unprecedented levels of stress.

The study said that nearly two and three adults that 65% say the current amount of uncertainty in our nation causes them stress. And that three and five, which is 60% say the number of issues America faces currently is overwhelming them. This finding speaks to the hardships many Americans may be confronting at this moment. issues they are stressed about aren't going away, but they're piling up.

So, at times like these, we could all use a role model who knows how to thrive in the most uncertain times, hence my research into Columbo. Now, in case you haven't seen the show, he always got the most puzzling cases to solve. Or he got what seemed to be a pretty simple case, and immediately complicated it before he eventually solved it. In every instance, no matter how uncertain the case seemed Colombo kept smiling, and showing up authentically until he got the job done. Let's see how he did this so we can learn to thrive in the most uncertain times. Here's what Colombo did.

He was authentic. Can you imagine Colombo without his raincoat, his 1959 Peugeot or his cigar? When major changes disrupt your routines, you can remain true to yourself, make choices in each moment that align with your values, and that helps ground you when you're authentic. consistently, you can trust yourself to be yourself.

What's the second thing Columbo did? He was curious. consider replacing the doubts and fears that you have right now with curiosity. Researchers tell us that children ask more than 70 questions a day. But that this habit tends to peak around the age of four. sharpening your questioning skills and leaning into your curiosity will help you gather information and make better decisions.

Third thing Colombo did, he never stopped. He was famous for coming back for just one more thing. To reach your goals. It's important to persevere through every period of uncertainty, because every situation has some periods of uncertainty. And time is going to pass whether you keep moving towards your goal or not. So just don't stop moving.

Fourth thing, don't forget self care. Even with a killer on the loose and everybody doubting him, Colombo would stop to eat a bullet chili or admire scenic view or play with his dog. We can stay strong by eating a healthy, balanced diet, exercising regularly and helping to manage our stress.

The fifth thing Colombo did was he took a moment you'll enjoy life more if you stop rushing around. Living mindfully enables you to accomplish more with less effort. Because you're coming to the task fresh. Take a deep breath and shorten your to do list. Often our lists get fatter and fatter because we keep piling stuff on there that happens to cross our mind. If letting all that stuff, cross your mind and writing it on a piece of paper helps you That's awesome. But then don't take that piece of paper as a scripture. Take that piece of paper and read through it and decide which of these things are important. Which of these things are important for me To do, and which of these things are important for me to do today, you don't have to do everything. And you definitely don't have to do everything at once.

Here are some other bonus ideas for thriving, despite uncertainty. shift your focus. If your focus right now is on all the things that you can't control, how's that working for you? It feels awful even saying that out loud. If you devote your time and energy to changing the things that you can control, magic happens. I know you're saying Allegra, what about all the other stuff, let the rest Go. Go do something constructive. When you catch yourself worrying about the global economy, or the state of health care.

Resist comparisons. Each of us deals with uncertainty in our own way. So find strategies that work for you. Instead of judging yourself for being different from your friends, or your family or your co workers. It is absolutely okay for your uncertain period to look different than others. It will, and it should look different, because you are different. So don't compare.

This next idea is my favorite. And we talked about this recently, it's express gratitude, make a list of the things that you're thankful for. I think I said this on Instagram a little while ago, I have a group of friends and family and we have a voxer chat that's been going on for over a year. And we hop in there every morning and each person must say three things they are grateful for. It has been life changing and relationship changing. If you start your day, instead of hopping up and immediately thinking of everything that's going wrong, or turning on the news, or doing whatever it is that we have been doing that isn't necessarily working right now, during this period of epic stress. If you change that, and you express gratitude, it will change your day. You'll feel more connected to others. And most importantly, you'll feel more hopeful about the future.

Next thing I'd invite you to do is reach out. Talk about your thoughts and feelings. That doesn't mean get into a general Oh, woe is me session with others, which makes you feel worse. But let others know how they can help you. give generously, and practice random acts of kindness. It gives you an endorphin boost that lasts for hours. Just do something thoughtful for someone.

Limit news consumption. I talk about this all the time. I don't want to be a broken record. I just want somebody to pop up in the review and say Allegra, you were right. Somebody tell me I was right. How many hours a day are you currently spending watching the news? If politics is making you feel sad and angry, if the climate is making you feel hopeless and depressed, if anything that you are intentionally consuming every day, all day, is not working for you reduce your viewing time, you don't have to stop watching altogether, I understand the importance of keeping on top of big issues. But it doesn't have to consume you and become all that you do.

The next thing is kind of the opposite of your news consumption. Remember your achievements. It's one of the first things I do with all my coaching clients. It's a homework assignment. And my clients work on it alone. And then we walk through it together.

A great boost for your confidence is to remember your achievements. Think back on the accomplishments and the challenges that you've overcome in the past. This is so important for showing yourself that you're capable of dealing with your current situation. Even if you're in a situation that you have never seen before. Thinking about and reflecting on the times when you have overcome situations in the past gives you confidence that you're capable of overcoming this one. And looking at a list of all of the things that you have done all of the accomplishments and challenges, who That's good stuff. And it enables you to experiment with pulling different skills and strengths from your past into your present so that you can try them out right now to see how they'll work for you.

I just have a couple other ideas first, keep learning. I know I said reduce your news consumption. But guess what, there are teachers everywhere. There are videos, you can watch podcasts, you can listen to blog posts, you can read. If there's something that you want to learn there is a teacher available to you Teachers look different doesn't mean necessarily going to take a college course. But you could certainly do that online. But it's important to keep educating yourself. It's important to discover things that excite you. It's important to learn about things that are relevant for you. Sign up for an online course, find a new podcast, do something to connect with someone who can teach you something that you're interested in learning.

I'm going to suggest also get counseling. Talking with a counselor may be helpful. If you find that you've stopped enjoying the things that you usually like to do. That is natural and a time of stress and anxiety, and craziness and unprecedented stuff. I'm a little bit tired of the word unprecedented. But dang if it doesn't fit. If you find that you're not enjoying the things that you used to you're withdrawing from your family and friends, and more often you're spending time in that zip code between your ears, and it's not working for you. A brief course of therapy could be exactly what you need to help you sort out your feelings and find more effective ways to cope with what is wearing you out what's weighing you down.

Finally, think positive. I know I know. I talk about positive thinking a lot because I know about the power of our thoughts. Positive Thinking works. Look at a glass as if it's hafele. Studies show that optimistic thinking can enhance your mental and physical well being. It's free y'all. At any moment, you can think more positive.

So if you're feeling overwhelmed by our uncertain times, think about what Colombo would do. And then think positively and get support from others because it will help you handle the ambiguity. Let me know if you have other great ideas. And if you know someone who is struggling in these uncertain times, please share this episode with them. Thanks for listening. I'll catch you next time.

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