BGG logo

To Dealing With Worries, What-ifs

and Worst-case Scenarios.

Are you are worrier?

Brainy Girls often are. Their high functioning brains and ability to analyse everything to the nth degree mean that they have no problem whatsoever conjuring up all kinds of catastrophic scenarios in their heads.

The trouble with worrying is that it is pervasive. It’s a bit like a thick glue in your brain that oozes over the other stuff (the sensible executive functioning stuff that is necessary to run a successful business) and smothers it. Another way to look at it is that the brain handles worries, what-ifs and worst case scenarios rather like a conveyor belt. As soon as it has dealt with one, another one pops on the end to take it’s place. The brain will always make room for a worry. Have you noticed that if you absolutely run out of worries (temporarily of course) you will simply start worrying about the fact that you haven’t got anything to worry about?

So the best way to deal with worries, since they will always be there, is to deal with them by quality. High quality worries warrant your attention and need to be addressed; low quality worries can simply be discarded. In the conveyor belt example, imagine for a second a mechanical arm (or human being if you prefer) whose job it is to pick off the low quality worries and throw them away.

What about the high quality worries?

Let me illustrate this with an example from my experience as a risk management specailist in the aviation industry. Surely my greatest worry was that the aircraft would crash? Actually, I didn’t worry about that because we had strategies, systems and structures in place to reduce the risk of that happening. You could  never eliminate the risk. The safest aircraft is of course one that would never leave the ground. But strategies, systems and structures were in place to reduce the risk to an acceptable level. In fact it was my job to develop those strategies, systems and structures.

The same principle applies to the way I run my business today. I deal with worries, what-ifs and worst case scenarios about my business in exactly the same way as I did working in the aerospace and defence industry. I put in place systems, structures and strategies to help me deal with them. I prioritise my activities every day. I put in place time management strategies. I undertake training. I develop plans and processes for my marketing and for my business as a whole.

What I don’t do, what I can’t afford to do, what I don’t have time to do, at least not for too long, is to just sit there worrying about everything.

Most business worries and what-ifs are such low quality they barely warrant bothering with. The trick is to acknowledge that you have a few trivial worries, observe them (those pesky things) and then ignore them. I know this is easier said than done but this is where the conveyor belt comes in. Just acknowledge it for what it is. That darn conveyor belt filling up just because it can. Try picturing your worries sitting on a conveyor belt then switch the lights off in the factory until morning at least.  Really low quality worries, what-ifs and worst case scenarios tend to just resolve themselves and disappear, so are not worth your effort trying to resolve them.

The time to deal with the low quality worries is when they begin pervading your business and your life. If you are consistently worrying about the same thing you need to deal with it.

Strategies, systems and structures. That’s the answer.

Worrying costs you time and energy which means, when it comes to being your own boss, it ultimately costs you money.

The one thing I’ve learned over the years is that worrying rarely propels me into action – it freezes me. Discomfort may propel me into action but worry doesn’t. It serves very little practical purpose. So look at the quality of the worries on your ‘worry conveyor belt’ and remember:

High quality – deal with it.

Low quality  – ignore it.

Is there anything else you can do?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapists recommend setting aside 15 minutes to worry. If your head is buzzing with worries this can be worth a try. But don’t just worry in the 15 minutes. Use the time to decide which are ones really worth worrying about and come up with strategies to deal with them. At the end of the 15 minutes ‘scheduled worry time’ you should feel more motivated, less stuck and less overwhelmed.

Are you a worrier? Let me know how you deal with worries about your business.