“The only real difference between Anxiety and Excitement was my willingness to let go of Fear.”
-Barbara Brown Taylor-
I just finished a series of articles on active listening, critical thinking, and ensuring understanding as it relates to interviewing and life. Improving those qualities in interviewing and life can have a significant effect on embracing the present and maximizing the return on it. Part of that equation is to gain control over worry. We talked about that several weeks ago and I want to finish that topic here.
No one is guaranteed a certain amount of time on this planet. There are 24 hours in a day, but not one of them is promised to you. You aren’t guaranteed to see the ending of a movie just because you’ve made it to the most exciting part. You aren’t promised the opportunity to finish a trip, see your children get married, or meet your grandchildren.
Truth be told, you can’t be sure you’ll be existing 60 seconds from now.
You’re probably thinking that this is a dismal and negative picture I’m painting. Please don’t believe that as there is so much more to the picture. There is incredible beauty found in this idea if you allow it to see the light.
It’s something that we often learn later in life. We suffer a devastating loss, and we look back on our past. Perhaps a friend or family member passes away. We think about all the things we wish we would’ve told that person or done with that person. I experienced this relatively early in life, although maturity causes us to reflect on it differently as time passes.
Regret often accompanies the loss of a loved one. The wise person will let that regret pass. They begin to think of all the wonderful memories created with the person that’s no longer in their life. They smile and have some good feelings reminiscing that way.
As time passes, our own mortality comes to mind. We realize that the world can change in the blink of an eye. When this happens to you, hopefully you never forget that lesson.
Embrace All the Positive in the Present Moment
The things you’ve done in your past, even the past few seconds, cannot be changed. For all intents and purposes, that means it doesn’t exist. You can reminisce about wonderful times in the past and that’s a good thing. But you have no control over your past.
The future doesn’t exist. You can’t guarantee the future, even a few seconds or minutes or an hour from now. Embrace that. Understand what it means. These natural facts mean that you owe it to yourself to live in the present moment right now.
Own it. Experience it fully with all your senses. With the knowledge that we’re guaranteed no amount of time on earth, you’ll start to see beauty everywhere. You understand how your entire existence is only one present moment at a time.
Think about it this way and you’ll make better plans. While your future isn’t guaranteed, embracing this mindset will have you making smarter plans for your future. You’ll take your relationships much more seriously. Embrace the present moment without guarantees of anything in the future and you’ll start calling the people that you love and telling them how much they mean to you.
This may seem like a heavy conversation to have with young people, but it needs to happen. It can produce an appreciation for relationships and beauty and positivity that otherwise might not exist. You owe it to yourself to plan for a wonderful future. You should also give yourself the gift of being totally alive and present in the now.
We must keep worry in its place because it is often in the past or future.
Everybody worries sometimes. Right now, you’ve probably even got a few worries on your mind. You might be thinking about a relationship or a situation at work, causing you trouble. Maybe you’re worried about your health or whether or not you’re going to have enough money to pay the bills at the end of the month. Whatever the case, worry happens whether we intend for it to or not. It creeps in.
Worry is not something we plan for and schedule, but it just comes. We’re told not to worry because most of everything we worry about will never happen. But you can spin that yarn all day long and it doesn’t necessarily make us worry less or give us tools to address the issue.
So, when we are talking auditing, investigations, compliance matters, or interviewing, if we are doing adequate planning, we know that worry will enter because of all the tasks and responsibilities on our plate. This is true for so many areas of our lives, work, family, and avocations. That worry can either grind our machinery to a halt or invigorate us to find motivation, success, and completion. This problem of worry becomes destructive, though, when worry starts to take over your life.
So, what is the goal? Is stopping worrying cold turkey enough to put you on an even keel, or are you hoping for something…more? What if, instead of worrying, you could become excited, then use this excitement to get more done?
Let’s look at seven ways to achieve success even as worry blows about us:
Be Here Now
Worry has a way of trapping you anywhere but here, in the present. Either you’re worried about something which happened long ago, or you’re caught up in fretting about something still to come. Neither is going to get you anywhere or accomplish anything. To control worrying, you need to focus on the present.
This is the only place when we can affect what happens. I talk about this all the time in interview training when we are asked questions that are future or past based. We need to recognize it and bring it back to the present. We must respond in the present. What interests you right now, that you can change?
Realize This Gets You Nowhere Fast
Worrying stops you cold. In fact, most procrastination is caused by worrying. Considering this, why are you wasting your time and energy on worrying? Sometimes just recognizing what a waste worry is, will be enough to derail it altogether. Especially when you have better places to be and greater things to be done.
Focus on the goals we established in past blogs. Bring those to the forefront of your mind. Return to the plan you had for completion and success, then get busy. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Throw Yourself into Something Interesting
Worry needs your attention to survive. Get busy doing something engaging to your mind, and you’ll find you forget all about worrying.
For me, when worry is taking too much of my time, I will often go to my shop and build, cut or paint something. I find that I immerse myself in the task at hand and worry dissipates. I distract myself from the worry and refocus. Take time. Think about what it is that will divert your mind to something more positive and go do it.
Rewrite the Script
If you’re seeing things blowing up around you, maybe you should try focusing on the perceived disaster. Ask yourself how you could do things to handle the situation were it to happen. Once you have it, practice the scenario in your mind. Picture yourself handling the matter.
This falls into the arena of planning that I speak about all the time in training. It is consistent with Dwight Eisenhower’s statement, “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Be prepared for the “what might be.”
Worried about an upcoming interview, an audit meeting, next steps in an investigation, things you need to do later? Exercise that planning muscle, having a dress rehearsal in your head will make things go smoother and keep worry at bay entirely.
That planning and preparation will equip you for any eventualities that take place and make the journey, wherever it goes, easier to navigate.
Challenge your worry. Dig in and get to the roots until you understand your worry intimately. Ask yourself where the negativity came from. Peel back the layers until you get down into the heart of the matter. Many times, that worry comes from upbringing, biases, maybe even irrational concerns. We need to know us to know what we must do. The more we know us the better interviewers we will be.
Try a New Path
In the end, worry can become very attached to the familiar. Challenge yourself. Find a different way to do things. Explore where this path takes you. Remember what is said about insanity; “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” It’s time to change it up.
If you handle these situations in your own little microcosm, maybe you should find someone to confide in. One of the biggest faults we have in the audit and investigation business is we operate in a vacuum. COVID has exacerbated this as well, causing us not to have mentors and colleagues to bounce ideas and concepts off. We are not created to operate this way and research clearly shows that we are much more effective when we collaborate.
When it comes to accomplishing goals and minimizing worry have you thought about whether you are handling these effectively or not? Or do you care about this enough (see a few weeks’ past blog on having passion)? Do you plan for opportunities and prepare to handle worry that will undoubtedly come. If not, why not?
Anderson Investigative Associates is positioned to custom-tailor training to your specific needs. If you have any questions or would like to discuss the above issues of worry and how to handle it or any training need, please reach out. Additional issues pertaining to interviewing, auditing, and investigations can be found in other blogs and videos that I have produced and are contained in most blocks of instruction that our company presents.
If you have additional questions, comments, or have an interviewing topic you would like me to address, give me a shout. In the meantime, be well, stay safe out there, and find a way to stop worrying….it will get you nowhere fast.
Mark A. Anderson
Director of Training and Development
Anderson Investigative Associates, llc
114 Loucks Avenue
Scottdale, PA 15683