Imagine standing in front of a pile of shit made up of all your worries.
Split this pile into two, separated by the things you can control and the things you can’t (you might need gloves – it is shit, after all).
Now, take the pile of things you can’t control and toss them in the garbage (or use them as fertilizer).
Sweet! The pile of things to worry about just got a lot smaller!
Focus On What You Can Control
Now that you have trimmed down your pile of worries to things you can actually do something about, organize them in order of importance, and zero in on exactly what it is you plan to do and why it matters.
Start by looking at the first thing on your list. Then ask yourself three questions:
- What is the thing that worries you?
- Why does it worry you?
- What will you do about it?
Once you have solved the thing, move on to the next on your list, and continue to work your way down.
But wait. What if it’s a really big thing that you can’t figure out all in one sitting?
Just get started.
You can do this by breaking the big thing into smaller, more manageable parts.
This will take effort on your part. I can’t tell you exactly what you need to do. That’s something you need to discover for yourself, so get a little creative.
This might mean:
- Making another list (meta).
- Writing out your thoughts in a journal.
- Recording voice memos with your phone.
- Recording video memos with your phone.
I touch on this below, but it means trying new things.
Don’t expect overnight success.
The thing is, most big problems do not have an immediate working solution.
That is why they are big problems.
Likely, the solution will be the result of a process of smaller actions that must be carried out over a certain length of time, and that will eventually – hopefully – lead to the ultimate resolution.
The point is, in order to make things happen you need to align your focus on what you can control.
Don’t waste another ounce of strength worrying about anything else.
Instead, think about the future, because after you have found your solution and acted upon it, the problem will no longer exist.
It will done and gone.
(That was the sound of another worry vanishing).
Don’t Worry About What You Can’t Control
I grew up as a rather timid child, and used to pray each night that God would protect me from things that scared me, like fires, burglars and earthquakes.
As a result, I developed anxiety as a child. These were useless fears that I had no control over. Praying for them not to happen wouldn’t have affected the outcome either way.
This behavior seemed to trickle down to other areas of my life as I grew older and actually made things harder, not easier.
Needless to say, I have led a pretty risk-adverse life.
In my early 20’s, an ideal time for opening one’s self to new experiences, I instead settled down and had a family when most of my peers were traveling, discovering themselves, getting educated.
This premature “adulting” works for some, but for me, it was a lifestyle that I entered into with a certain amount of reluctance. I wasn’t ready to settle down yet, but I did because I was scared. I desired comfort above all else and thought I would find it in the arms of someone I was no longer in love with.
The marriage didn’t last.
Since then, I’ve done a fair amount of self-discovery and, for the most part, have learned to change my thinking about the things I can’t control.
But every now and then an anxiety will creep in.
This is something I encountered just last night. I started thinking and worrying about all the things I need to do in order to achieve my goals.
Before I knew it, fifteen minutes had passed.
Once I realized what I was doing, I snapped out of it and did the thing I needed to.
But it came at the cost of my time.
Thirty minutes of my life.
Thirty minutes tossed into the abyss of the past.
No refunds. No exchanges.
Thirty minutes might not seem like much, but it can quickly add up if you’re not paying attention.
The trick is to be mindful, to pay attention to yourself, your environment and how you are spending your time.
In order to be mindful of yourself you have to know both your body and your mind. You are the only one who can do this. It takes time and energy, but with the right processes in place, you can do it.
In order to be mindful of your environment you have to eliminate distractions and create a healthy workspace.
In order to be mindful of your time you need to get organized.
Time is our most valuable resource.
It is non-renewable.
Think about how much time you waste on your phone, in front of the TV or doing some other activity that doesn’t provide any intrinsic value to your life.
You’re not getting that time back.
This is because the past is a selfish abyss.
Being mindful is a skill. It takes time to develop, but once you master this skill, it becomes much easier to banish useless thoughts.
The more risks you are willing to take, the more you are likely to succeed.
Take a risk in one area of your life and you will be less afraid to take them in other areas of your life.
Here’s the thing:
Within the bounds of reality, the fears that you have nurtured for so long do not actually exist.
They exist only in your mind.
Once you grasp onto that reality and don’t let go, everything will seem a little less frightening.
Don’t let your anxieties rule your life.
Like my man Yoda says:
Try New Things
But wait. Yoda just said there is no “try”.
What he meant is that trying is doing, but doing is not trying.
That is, trying is a subcategory of doing, so when viewed in a broader sense, trying does not actually exist.
There is do. And there is do not.
Here’s some parting advice:
- Try different things.
- Find out which of those things you like.
- Do more of those things and things like it.
I did this and discovered I love fiction writing. So, I started doing it every morning.
And I’m still trying new things.
Here is what I’m doing. Maybe it will help give you ideas if you’re having trouble getting started:
- I am trying blogging.
- I’ve started recording more short videos on my phone.
- I am learning how to use video editing software.
- I have started keeping audio memos.
- I am looking at the possibility of a podcast.
- I am helping my cousin build marketing content around a video game he’s making.
- I sing in a cover band.
Through all this, I am exploring more of the things I enjoy doing. I may not keep doing all of those things I listed above in the long term, but the important point is that I’m searching.
And on the side, I am experimenting with different scheduling strategies, such as bullet journaling and Google calendar in order to keep track of it all.
Let me know in the comments if you’d like me to share my scheduling strategies and experiments.