Dealing With Uncertainty Is A Science: Make It Work For You

May 12, 2022

We humans hate uncertainty. Our brains treat it like a threat and trigger us to avoid it. Yet, since the pandemic, there’s been no getting around it: Making decisions without as much confidence as we’d like is just part of the new normal. And, neuroscientists and psychologists agree, it can lead to a spiral of anxiety and self-reinforcing negativity. You feel like you don’t have control → You get anxious → Anxiety clouds your judgment → You make less opportunistic decisions → You’re unhappy with the outcome → You have less control … Feel familiar?

Why am I writing about this? As a mother of three school-age kids and a leader of a nonprofit, I am constantly confronted with having to make decisions with less certainty than I want. And, even with the pandemic waning, there’s no sign that uncertainty is going away any time soon. But, because my work is focused on science and math, I can talk to people who think obsessively about the science of decision-making and share their practical wisdom with you.

I talked to mathematicians, economists, game theorists, futurists, psychologists, and more, and I plumbed the literature. Here are six straightforward steps to making better decisions and regaining a sense of calm and control.

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