— originally written February 5, 2013 for an extinct website —
Do you worry about your performance at work, often wondering if you are living up to others’ expectations?
I’m sure you have already heard that worry does not accomplish anything, but rather hinders your progress and makes it more difficult for you to achieve your potential. But just want CAN you do to chase away the Worry Monster and create a great self-accepting environment in which you can thrive and perform at your very best?
Here are a few key ideas:
Be SPECIFIC about your self-incriminations. Don’t settle for a vague “I’m not good enough” — if you are going to put yourself on trial, be nice enough to make a clear-cut accusation.
Look for assumptions and weigh the evidence. Always be sure the evidence matches the accusations. Throw out any assumptions that are not validated by evidence! Be pragmatic instead of censorious.
If you are obsessing over one or more “What If?” scenerios, seriously pose these questions instead: “What is the absolute worst that can happen?” and ”What is the worst of the LIKELY situations that may happen?”
Change your perspective — Look at the bigger picture. For both questions above, honestly assess what would actually happen if they were to occur.
How would it realistically effect your job and your life?
Is it really as dead-end or life-or-death serious as it appears to be?
What COULD you do, in each case? What would be your best options?
If this were to occur, would anyone love you any less?
Are you at least trying your best, living up to your own set of expectations?
Keep in mind that it is the fear of the unknown that creates the greatest level of anxiety. Bring it down a notch by looking seriously at what COULD happen and what you COULD do about it. If you take the time to explore these possibilities, you give your mind a deep sigh of, “Been there, done that — it’s not soooooo bad!” You owe it to yourself and your potential to give yourself a fair trial and a realistic portrayal of the consequences of your actions.
Try this: The next time you feel anxious about your work performance or start kicking yourself for what you have or have not done:
1) Write down your most serious offense as a specific accusation. For example, “Every day after lunch you waste 30 minutes or more getting back to work.”
2) Write down the evidence, throwing out any assumptions and starting over with the next offense, if applicable. Example: “After one week of recording the times I actually returned to my main task each day, I found I spend an average of 35 minutes checking my email, changing the garbage, scanning the news, and doing other nonessential tasks.”
3) Examine the big picture, using some of the questions above as a starting point. For example: “If I got back to work on my main task immediately after lunch each day, I would give myself back an average of 175 minutes — almost 3 hours — per week!”
Try this: The next time you get distracted by “What If” thinking:
1) Be creative and write down the absolute worst thing that COULD happen.
2) Be realistic and write down the worst thing that is LIKELY to happen.
3) Examine the big picture, again using questions above for a starter.
Example: “I COULD get fired, but it is more likely that I will just be asked to stay a few extra hours after work today and tomorrow. This may make my wife angry with me, but she will not actually love me any less. In fact, talking to her about this and sharing my frustrations and anxieties could actually bring us closer. I could ask her to be a team player and encourage me while I try to improve this area of my life. In return, I could ask her how I could encourage her in her own personal objectives.”