There’s no point worrying about your business.
Don’t worry, it might never happen.
These are two clichés which people have said to me about a trillion times over my lifetime. I’ve probably said them to other people, or to myself. I’ve also quoted Mark Twain’s much more enlightened and humorous version:
Drag your thoughts away from your troubles… by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it
The trouble is, that none of these has ever stopped me worrying about things for more than 45 seconds. All that happens is that I feel guilty for worrying, and it takes up my mental bandwidth.
I worry about all kinds of things:
- Climate change
- Does my hair look okay today?
- Did I remember to lock my bike up – I don’t remember doing it, better check
- What on earth is Donald Trump going to do next, and is there going to be a world war 3 because of that numpty
- And of course I worry about my business, just like you do
I can’t do too much about numbers 1 & 4 and of course, I did lock my bike up because I do that every day on autopilot. Which leaves me with checking my hair in the mirror, and possible remedial action with the hairbrush.
Worrying takes up your mental bandwidth
Seth Godin is right when he says that worrying takes up mental bandwidth which could be better used to actually do the work and get on with the things that will make a difference.
And plunging into something useful does stop you worrying about your business because your brain is full of something else. The worrying either gets pushed into a dusty corner of your mind or evaporates entirely.
In fact, plunging into activity is the only thing that will break the worry cycle. If you’re beset by worries at 4am (the worst time, because your sleepy brain has no filter as to what’s important, real, or within your control) then you need to get up and walk around the garden. And maybe eat a banana, which also seems to help.
If you are worrying while you’re at work, you might as well get on with writing a blog post, or checking off one of the items on your to-do list. It breaks the worry cycle by putting something else in your brain.
But what is the purpose of all this worrying about your business?
When I read Seth’s article, I nodded in agreement.
But then I wondered why we humans worry so much. There must be a point to it, some kind of genetic advantage. My ancestors who were worriers who got to survive and pass on their genes and their happy go lucky pals got eaten by lions.
[Note – I have no real idea if this is how the survival of the fittest works, or if worrying is even a genetic trait. Happy to hear from anyone who does know about this kind of stuff.]
Worrying does have a kind of advantage. It brings up all of those niggling little things, that if we are constantly in action with a serene sense of flow, we would simply miss. Maybe I need to worry about those little things, so I can check them.
Worrying is useful because it reminds me that I didn’t brush my hair, and I shouldn’t see clients looking like a birds nest crazy woman. It points out that I could take 5 seconds and walk back to my bike to check that I’ve locked it. There was that time that I just put the lock around the lamppost and not around the actual bike, after all.
The worry gene is what gave my ancestors the ability to check their rabbit traps, just in case, so they could eat that winter. I guess my equivalent of that is going over the open rate on my email series, so I tweak my subject lines, so I can eat this winter.
My new rule when worrying about my business
My new rule about worrying is to notice what I’m worried about, and either dismiss it as being out of my control (I can’t do anything about Trump, sorry) or spring into action to make things better. And not to feel guilty about worrying, as long as I act on it.
What you can do when you worry about your business
When you find yourself worrying about your business, especially when that worrying takes up too much of your mental bandwidth so you can’t get into action, it’s probably time to come and have a coffee and a chat with me so we can sort out what’s going on and get you into action.
You might need some business coaching, you might need to invest in one of my programmes, or everything might be completely fine and you just need some reassurance.
Here’s how the coffee (and maybe a cake) thing works…
Photo credit to Dave Stokes and Ben Brophy from Flickr on a Creative Commons license