Recently, I had a very frustrating experience with my healthcare insurance provider. Further confirming my notion that, while I love my doctors, the “care” part, when it comes to insurance, is in name only. And given the amount of my monthly premium, this pisses me off. 

Right now, I am angry and don’t have any recourse available to me. I feel somewhat powerless, and I am wondering if I am missing out on something better. But, I do have a plan. 

In July, when I get the annual notice of the proposed premium rate change (a requirement of New York Insurance Law), I will start gathering information about the other insurance plans my key doctors intend to accept in 2024. I will create a spreadsheet (not a surprise to those who know me!) comparing the coverage and proposed premiums of those plans. 

I was sharing both my annoyance about the situation and my plan with someone, and I started chuckling. Because as I heard myself speaking, I realized the way I am responding to this situation reflects my typical pattern of how I approach…well, everything.

What challenge, frustration, or question are you dealing with right now? 

What do you notice about the approach you are taking to address it compared to how you have approached other challenges, frustrations, or questions you’ve had?

I am a visual thinker. I “think” best on paper by writing. (Thank goodness for the reMarkable tablet!) Creating a mindmap is my key tool for doing this. It helps me tap into my methodical and creative sides. It’s how I: 

  • brainstorm and get what’s in my head – out;
  • get clear about the “real” frustration, challenge, or problem (you know, what’s beneath the surface – not just what you initially see or react to);
  • notice patterns; and 
  • capture the options and tradeoffs of a decision I am pondering.

The Myth of Certainty

There are two quotes you’ll often hear when it comes to commentary about the performance of the stock market, which happen to apply to all aspects of money, business, and life: 

One is, “Past performance is not an indication of future performance.” I find this one wise, because not all results are directly tied to a specific choice of yours. 

The second is, “The markets hate uncertainty.” I find this one comical, because nothing in life is certain! 

In a world made up of imperfect, emotional human beings and imperfect information, sometimes, wanting certainty is a tall order. 

Yet, it is often what you and I crave when it comes to our decisions and choices. We want to know that what we are doing is correct. Will the red or blue pill lead us to what we want?

From my personal experience and professional observations, I am convinced that the desire for certainty is what can lead you and me to feel stress, confusion, indecisiveness, be inflexible, and have a false sense of security

Particularly when it comes to weighty matters, I, as much as the next person, really don’t like hearing responses like, “Who knows?” or “It depends.” These are so incredibly unsatisfying, even if they are the most honest answers we can hear at times. (We humans have a tendency to reject the truth when what is most desired is comfort.)

Clarity is Not Passive

Maybe you use a different tool or method to help you process and make decisions and choices.  

Personally, I find a mindmap (and sometimes a spreadsheet, too) extremely useful. 

With my insurance situation, my process is going to help me identify (and eliminate) alternatives. This way, I can either switch providers or make peace with what I don’t like about the one I have. 

I also have a timeline. While I can’t do anything to resolve my frustration right now (except fuss about it), I can get the process started in a few months. 

I’m clear about what I want (to keep my present doctors and my premium within a particular dollar range). These are my non-negotiables. In this situation, these are what matter most to me. 

So, back to the challenge, frustration, or question you are dealing with right now…

To what degree is your capacity to focus and make your next move being diminished because you are looking to increase the certainty it is the right next move to make?

Have you sussed out alternatives? Do you have a timeline? What are your non-negotiables? 

Would it help if I suggested that if you’re going to seek certainty, don’t search for it in the result you want (something you can’t always control)? Instead, look for it in your process (something you have agency over). 

When I find myself seeking the comfort of certainty, I remind myself that certainty is about the result

While clarity, on the other hand, is about the process AND the result

Clarity requires focus, so you can identify your alternatives, timeline and non-negotiables.

Clarity requires you to listen, observe, and reflect, so you can be on the lookout for answers from unexpected sources. Answers that may expand your perspective or ideas about what’s possible.

It also requires embracing the role of acceptance when it comes to clarity. Meaning: make peace withthings as they are now rather than wishing they were different, right now.  

TL;DR When what you really want is the comfort of certainty, see that as life’s way of saying you need more clarity. 

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