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Knowing the Unknown

22 days and counting to the day we embark on the next stage of our family’s life journey. For the first time in our marriage, David and I will be living alone, just the two of us, “empty-nesters” as we say. And for the first time in his life, Shawn will be living away from home, beginning life as a college student and football player.

As Shawn and I were having one in a series of “reducing the mystery of college life” conversations, it dawned on both of us that in focusing on the unknown as we attempted to unravel the mystery, we had neglected the known. The result: the unknown was taking on a life of its own, becoming the driving force in our decision making, actions, conversations, and choices. We were slipping into what I call fear based living. Our confidence was slowly eroding, in both our own self and in each other.  

So we shifted the conversation to the known, identifying what he does know about football, himself, living life, time management, studying, etc. Quickly we realized he was taking into the unknown a lot of known, and so was I. As the known got bigger, the unknown got smaller, still present but dwarfed by the known. Our affects brightened, we lightened up, felt stronger, and ended our conversation eagerly anticipating the new experiences.

Over the past several years, I have learned the power of fear in ruling our everyday lives. I see it in my clients and I can easily identify the times in my life that I suffered from chronic fear based decision making. One of the common culprits is often the overwhelming unknown that we can describe in great depth and detail because we have given it so much attention.

The new scientific findings support our behavior showing the brain thrives on the energy efficiency of routine and habit regardless of how well they work or affect our life. The brain favors the known; shuns the unknown. Sometimes, we are lucky and the known is meeting all of our needs and fulfilling many of our wants. Sometimes it is not, and it is at these times that we can reduce the unknown by bringing into it the known.     

Thanks to Shawn, I now realize how intertwined the known and unknown are, and how integrating them increases our opportunity to optimize our potential. Now I see the value of describing the unknown with the known providing the foundation, and the unknown simply adding the element of surprise and mystery that makes life that much more interesting.

Extra Ordinary

In what aspects of your life is fear keeping you from stepping into the unknown?

What “knowns” can you identify that shrink the power of the unkown?

How would your daily life be different if fear’s only hold was in having you avoid “leaping from tall buildings”?


Janet Crawford MHA, MBA Professional Certified Coach

Extra Ordinary Living is written for aspiring individuals looking for new perspectives and ideas for living life differently by finding the Extra in the Ordinary.

Sustainable Living Tip:

Paper or Plastic….

Or how about using a reusable shopping bag?

In the United States alone, 12 million barrels of oil and 14 million trees annually are used to produce plastic and paper bags ( Not to mention the decades it takes for them, plastic in particular, to decompose in the landfills.

Indeed in the USA, we love convenience and plastic bags are very convenient. Yet is the price of convenience worth the cost of destruction? I invite you to join me in committing to reducing your use of plastic bags by adding the option of reusable shopping bags. bags. Not sure where to get them….many grocery stores now sell them or better yet, be creative, look in your closets.


"While we are focusing on fear, worry, or hate, it is not possible for us to be experiencing happiness, enthusiasm or love."
– Bo Bennett

"Fear paralyzes; curiosity empowers. Be more interested than afraid."
– Patricia Alexander

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