Women in Business  February 7, 2022

Szczurek: How to cope with uncertainty

The winds of change and uncertainty are blowing, constantly. Consider the monstrous wildfires that suddenly struck and destroyed neighborhoods in our community. Luckily my family and I are safe, yet it makes me realize how quickly things can change.

You can help! Community support is needed by many people in the near and long-term. Our partners at The Community Foundation serving Boulder County have activated the Boulder County Wildfire Fund in order to address the needs of the community.

Uncertainty Causes Stress

We live in a world of uncertainty. While this has always been the case, these last few years seem even more unstable with the pandemic, social conflicts, political unrest, financial fluctuations, and more. Uncertainty is the state of being uncertain. It’s defined as not known or definite, not able to be relied on, not completely confident or sure of something.

The Stress in America survey, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychology Association, found that “63% of adults agreed that uncertainty about what the next few months will be like causes them stress, and about half (49%) said that the coronavirus pandemic has made planning for their future feel impossible. Research shows that people react differently to uncertainty, and those with a higher intolerance for uncertainty may be less resilient and more prone to low mood, negative or down feelings, and anxiety.”

Practical pointers on how to cope with uncertainty

1. Know and nurture yourself — Determine and reconfirm “Who am I?” by looking at your values, gifts, and traits. Start with who you are now. Answers to that question help you define what you’re passionate about. By nurturing yourself, you strengthen your sense of self and become the whole person you want to be. This can be your core foundation, even in times of uncertainty, and provide resilience. Engage in self-care. Make efforts to eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, drink water, breathe, and reduce stress through meditation, affirmations, yoga, and prayer.

2. Allow — Do not resist. Use the “Allowing Strategy” as explained in my book, Pursuit of Passionate Purpose (Pursuit of Passionate Purpose). Allowing is also called surrender, nonresistance, lack of control, acceptance, or equanimity. Be clear on what you want and allow how you get it to unfold. Effective Passionate Pursuers are flexible, open to the possibilities, and receptive to options along the way, yet hold firm to the broad intention and pursue it persistently. The Allowing Strategy is about surrendering with equanimity to the natural flow instead of struggling and resisting.

3. Be selective — Limit the amount of exposure you have to the media and be selective in what you listen and watch. Avoid dwelling on things you can’t control. Say no to many things, in order to say yes to your passionate purpose.

4. Reflect on past successes — Somehow you survived past unknowns and stress. This knowledge can build your confidence that you will get through this time of uncertainty. What helped you then? What might you do differently this time? Make a list of what to “start, stop, and continue” doing and then take action.

5. Connect and ask for help — Use the “Connections Strategy” as explained in Pursuit of Passionate Purpose. The most effective Passionate Pursuers realize that it’s vital to build relationships with the proper people and support network, and correspondingly to lessen the impact of improper ones. This includes you. Ask yourself what you would tell a friend in this situation. Reach out to family and friends whom you trust. You don’t have to isolate or go it alone.

6. Pursue your purpose — When you know your passionate purpose and direct your energies toward achieving it, you can more easily weather uncertainties. Develop a plan. Pivots will likely be needed along the way. Be creative and resilient. Keep going and persist. Take action. Don’t give up.


We live in uncertain times, which can cause stress. Use these proven coping mechanisms including: Know and nurture yourself, allow, connect, be selective, reflect on past successes, and pursue your purpose.

Theresa M. Szczurek, Ph.D., is a C-level executive, consultant, corporate director and Colorado CIO of the Year. She is the former chief information officer for the state of Colorado. www.TMSworld.com

Theresa Szczurek

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