Do you find yourself worrying about things you could have done better? Or the many tasks you should be doing next week? We women tend to take a lot more to carry on our shoulders than we need to and that often creates unnecessary anxiety.
I used to get anxious about all sorts of things. Preparing receipts for the company VAT return used to be on the top of the list. Today, for the first time ever, I finished the huge pile of admin without a drop of sweat. For the first time I didn’t scream to innocent bystanders (my family), and my heart beat didn’t rise above its usual levels. Also because I wasn’t anxious, I finished the job in a record time.
Anxiety takes up a lot of mental capacity and therefore reduces productivity.
Anxiety can be related to depression and it’s very important to deal with the underlying issues and not just have a quick fix for the problems. The purpose of this article is not to dig deep into mental health issues but it’s good to understand that worrying is linked to general mental health and as a subject is quite complex. It’s influenced by factors such as genetics, diet, exercise, relationships, isolation, education, wealth and equality.
But even if you don’t suffer from real mental problems, most of us are prone to unnecessary every day worry that can drain our energy and stop us from working on things that really matter to us.
1) Worrying about the uncomfortable
Me doing my VAT receipts totally falls into this bracket! I worry about it because I don’t like it. Why I don’t like it is because I have to concentrate on boring details for a long period of time. Everyone has their own area of comfort and discomfort and we tend to stay safely in our comfort zone.
This is bad news for growth. Unfortunately learning and true commitment only happens outside of the comfort zone.
You may think that doing VAT receipts can’t be such a big deal, but for me it has been. Possibly the worst thing I can think of and the main source of anxiety. I used to get antsy already a day before. I’d postpone it. I’d dwell on it. I’d kick and scream when I finally had to do it! I know it’s a bit silly really and I’m happy that I have finally fixed it.
So what changed? I simply started accepting the work I had to do. Instead of trying to fight it, I went in and said: “This is just a job that needs doing. Accept it. And until I’ve done this I’m not allowed to start anything else (more comfortable).”
2) Worrying about the past – All the mistakes I made!
People also tend to worry about things in the past, things they could have done better. Let me tell you, there are a million things I could have done better.
However, I always think every person tries to do the best they can with the resources available to them at a time. Therefore even if you think afterwards you could have done better, you really couldn’t have, or otherwise you would have. (Do you follow me?) This is why I don’t ever beat myself up for things I could have done different, because I know that if I had more knowledge or energy at the time of the event, then I really would have done it better. But because I didn’t, I didn’t! (Huh, that was a long one…)
A second helpful realisation is that, well, I don’t know anyone who could return to the past to fix things. So why worry?
Mistakes are an important part of the process of making yourself better at what do or learn to do. A child falls down hundreds of times before she learns to walk and no-one thinks any less of her for that. We should have the same attitude towards new experiences as adults, but instead we expect everything to go perfectly the first time, this is totally unrealistic.
We also tend to think that other people have a lot of time and interest to analyse our mistakes. Well, generally they don’t. And if you know someone who does you shouldn’t be spending too much time with them anyway, as they don’t sound very positive influence.
To deal with mistakes and past performance the best advice is not to beat yourself up.
Give yourself a break. And if you want to get a better result next time, it’s a good idea to seek someone’s feedback during the process. Ah, then comes a worry of exposing yourself unfinished. It can be scary, but it sure is effective. Share a draft, an idea, a prototype or a concept with someone and ask for a feedback. It’s possible to eliminate many mistakes and save time from redoing work.
3) Worrying about future – All the things that could go wrong!
It seems that some people think they can anticipate or solve problems by worrying about them in advance. Or that they’ll become more prepared to life’s difficult moments if they worry.
It’s sometimes difficult to trust the uncertainty the future brings, but all you do by worrying about it is ruin your present moment!
In my opinion the only way to be prepared to any future event is to build your experience and a thicker skin.
And to build experience you have to do the very thing you worry about, try things out and make mistakes. If you worry about a speech you have to give to a big audience, rather than worry about it and try to anticipate what could happen, you could trial public speaking with a smaller audience and actually experience the mistakes you might make.
This type of worry originates from a similar source to the first point, comfort zone. It’s easier to sit still and worry, than to step out and fix things.
But worry is the opposite force to action and prevents us acting on our dreams. It’s a real Time Robber!
The only two things that have helped me to deal with worry are:
1) I’ve become more aware of the present and 2) I try to deal with only one worry, a problem or a task at a time.
“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”
― Dalai Lama XIV
What do you worry about? Have you noticed it reduces your productivity? Do you think it slows you down? What are your tips about dealing with it? Please comment.
Have a great, worry free week!