Time and time again, I hear from clients that they feel a path is right for them, but how can they be certain? They want to know, “How can I be sure it will work out?” “How can I be sure I won’t fail?” “How can I be sure…”
Oof. It goes on and on. We crave certainty, which is so normal, so understandable, and so deeply human. We want to know that we will be ok, and our need to know, with certainty, keeps us stuck.
Backdoors & the Trap of Certainty
Here’s what tends to happen when we want to try something new, but we also feel uncertain: we half a** it. We do that by leaving ourselves backdoors.
A backdoor is like an escape plan. It’s when you put one foot onto your exciting new path, but keep the other path on your old, status quo path.
Here’s what it might sound like in your head to have backdoors:
- “I’m going to keep doing some work on the side for my old company in case this new business idea doesn’t work out.”
- “I like the relationship I’m in, but you never know how these things will go. I’ll keep my online dating profile just in case.”
- “I know I said I wanted to travel, but that big, exciting trip will cost a lot. Instead, I’ll just book a few smaller trips close to home.”
- “I really want that promotion and I know I’ll have a good shot if I knock this project out of the park, but that would mean stepping back on some other things. I should just try to do all of it to be safe.”
These backdoors, these escape plans, may sound reasonable in theory, but in practice, you end up stretched in two different directions. Like a rubber band, at some point you’ll snap back to your starting point. To your status quo.
This is why it can feel exciting – even easy – to get started on new things, but time and time again, it fizzles out and you end up back in your old patterns. You’ve snapped back. A backdoor was left open and you shot right through it.
Sealing the Backdoors
When you seal a backdoor, you move forward with certainty, putting both feet firmly on your new path.
Here’s what it might sound like in your head when working to seal off those backdoors:
- “I’ve made a financial plan for the year and I’m going to go full speed ahead with this new business idea.”
- “I like the relationship I’m in and I want to make it work. I’m shutting down my old profiles.”
- “I want to travel and this big trip feels exciting to me. I’ve saved up enough and I’m doing it.”
- “I really want that promotion, so I’m committing to knocking this key project out of the park. I’ll meet with my team/manager ASAP about handing off this additional work.”
In these scenarios, you seal off those backdoors. You commit, fully, empowering yourself to put the wholeness of your energy into making this new path happen.
Easier Said Than Done!
It’s all well and good to say you have to commit, fully, but… this is real life! You can’t actually be certain that things will work out. Keeping those backdoors open is a smart move that keeps you safe. Right?
Well, let me ask you this… how has that mindset been serving you so far?
My guess is that it’s been keeping you stuck in the same old patterns, year after year.
Making real change happen demands certainty and commitment. And that demands a powerful mindset shift away from… outcomes.
Be Certain of the Path, Not the Outcome
You need to let go of the idea that certainty is tied to the outcome. I know that will sound crazy to many of you. After all, isn’t that what certainty means? Knowing what’s going to happen??
Nope. That’s not what certainty is. If you knew, 100%, what the outcome of something would be, you would be psychic, not certain.
Certainty is not knowing the outcome. Certainty is knowing that the path you are on is the right one for you.
Does that mean things will turn out exactly the way you’ve planned? No, not at all. It isn’t about outcomes. It’s about the experience.
That experience may take you to what you’ve planned, or it may lead to something even better. Or to something you had no idea you needed – or no idea was even possible – until you were face to face with it. You can’t be certain where it will take you, but you can be certain it will take you out of stuckness and into a world of possibilities.
Lean Into What You CAN Be Certain Of
If you can’t be certain of the outcome, what can you be certain of?
When you are feeling unhappy, stuck, unfulfilled, unmotivated, you know for certain that the path you’re on now is not right for you. When something excites you, brings you joy, brings you peace, brings you a sense of fulfillment or purpose… you know for certain that something about it is right for you and you know for certain that it’s a path you need to explore.
That’s what you can be certain about, even in the most uncertain of times (say, a global pandemic, for example). Lean into that.
Instead of leaning into this idea that you need to know the outcome to have certainty, lean into the idea that certainty comes from within. It doesn’t come from hard facts outside of yourself. It comes from connecting with your leader within, stepping into empowerment, and committing to bringing your fullest, most authentic self forward.
What to Do With Uncertainty
Of course, there is plenty you can’t be certain of. There is no end to what you cannot control or predict in the world. When you focus on that, it becomes scary to the point of paralysis.
Focusing on what you can be certain of is a powerful shift, but it doesn’t always quiet those fearful voices in your head that desperately want to keep those backdoors open.
These are your Gremlins or Saboteurs. Gremlins aren’t bad, they’re just afraid. They’re a normal, human part of you. The problem is, they’ve held your inner megaphone for too long. So long, in fact, that they have you believing that their version of the world is THE version of the world.
Your Saboteurs are one of the things you can control and you need to do that in order to step fully into certainty. If that’s something you struggle with, here are 8 steps to get control of your Gremlins.
The Bottom Line
If you’re waiting for certainty to come to you, you’ll be waiting forever. As I always say, you gotta turn that finger around. Stop looking outside yourself for everything from validation to excuses. Connect with the certainty within you. Let it guide you. Put both feet on the path that feels right to you, and seal off those backdoors to what you know is no longer serving you.
Commit. Commit with courage, self-compassion, and certainty that your leader within knows better than your Saboteurs.
If you would like help leaning into certainty and wrestling your inner megaphone away from your fearful Gremlins, I invite you to connect with me.