A fundamental aspect of being human is the innate ability to imagine an infinite number of futures. We can’t help it. Our minds are wired to create.
Imagination is a beautiful gift. It serves and protects. Through creating potential futures to ponder, we can dream and make decisions based on possibility. We can also predict possible risks and protect ourselves.
But, sometimes we misuse this gift. We let resistance and fear hijack our inner creator. And then comes the worry. The worry that stops us in our tracks. The worry that makes our chests tight and our tummies sloshy.
I don’t have a magic wand to end your worrying. But, strategies exist for going toe-to-toe with the hijackers that drive it. And, I’m going to give you one to play with as you go into your weekend. You can follow my instructions below, or download my free tool (scroll down).
- Get a piece of paper and a pen.
- Think about something you want to do but feel you can’t because you are worried. It can be anything. Having a vulnerable conversation. Applying for a job. Admitting you were wrong. Buying a face cream. Anything.
- At the top of your paper, write, “If I do [insert thing you want to do but are worried about], Y will happen.”
- Under this sentence, write at least 10 positive futures “Y” could be.
- Read the 10 positive futures out loud. Observe how you feel.
- Now, write 1 to 3 negative futures “Y” could be.
- Next to each negative future, write, “If this happened, I would Z.” Don’t write Z, though. Instead, write something you could do to prevent or reduce the impact of the negative future.
- Read your negative future “if/then” statements out loud. Observe how you feel.
- Now, the big finish. It is a little mathematical, so take your time:
- Pick your favorite positive future.
- Pick your most worrisome negative future.
- Write the following, “I choose to do [insert thing you want to do but are worried about], because [insert positive future] will happen. If [insert negative future] happens, I will [insert the thing you said you would do to address the negative future].”
- Read the statement out loud. Observe how you feel.
How is the worry relative to where you started?
If you liked this exercise, you may also like this TED talk by Tim Ferriss on defining your fears rather than your goals.
Feel free to share in the comments; we’d love to hear from you.