A little bit of worry actually increasing your performance. It makes sure you study for exams and finish presentations on time. But too much worry can inhibit your ability to sleep, keep you from focusing and cause performance to plummet.
Fortunately there is something you can do about the useless worry:
- Notice that you are worrying – This may seem elementary but it is not uncommon for anxiety to become such an excepted part of life that we don’t even notice the symptoms. Do you have tension in your neck? An ongoing ache in the pit of your stomach? Difficulty focusing on one thing at a time? You are likely worrying.
- Pinpoint your worries – What exactly are you concerned about? Try to be as specific as possible. Rather then saying “my job” determine what it is about your job. Too much to do? Making mistakes? Being laid off? What exactly is the concern?
- Write them down – This might be counter intuitive. Making your worries concrete will help you with the next steps.
- Are those worries within your control? – In other words, is there something you can do about them. I have a friend who worries incessantly about his mother’s health. He can certainly encourage her to take care of herself but the choice is hers. He has no control over her actual behavior.
- Create two lists – One of things you can control and the other of things you can’t. Label them “Within my control” and “To worry about later”.
- Gather more information – Ambiguity and the unknown are big worry monsters. The more you know the better you will be able to make decisions.
- Create a to do list – The things within your control always have smaller pieces you can work on
- Start making progress – The best thing you can do about worry is take action
As new worries come up, add them to the proper list. When you catch yourself worrying about something on your “later” list remind yourself that it is on the list and that you don’t need to concern yourself with it right now.
If you find yourself with nothing to do and worry free, pick up your “later” list. Is there anything on there worth spending your happy mood on? I think not.
Worry is a normal human condition. Just make sure the bridges you are building are the ones you actually need. Worrying about things you can’t control or that will never happen is like building a bridge to nowhere that you will never cross!
What do you worry about? We would love to help you start your list.
Next week we are going to look at types of conflict, why some are productive and others are not.
Want to go back to last week when we talked about the benefits of a temporary solution? Click here.