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Worry to Win: How to Worry the Right Way

Worry to Win: How to Worry the Right Way

How do you worry? While the emotion can be a formidable foe, we mustn’t forget that every coin has two sides. What do you feel as you worry? Does the worry lead to distress, finally cascading into a perplexed or confused state?

Author Robert Greene paints early humans as a benefactor of this misunderstood emotion in his masterpiece, Mastery. While the Business Insider published an article that plays on the distress our worries can bring, there is a one solution to disheartening worries that will empower you to be decisive. Worry will, as long as you allow it, become a trusted confidant. Unless, of course, you enjoy the emotional roller coaster.

Robert Greene has nearly two decades of brilliant and insightful books on the nature of mankind. If you’ve read The 48 Laws of Power, you’re likely better for it. His masterpiece, Mastery, should be taught in public school. With that being said, consider Mr. Greene’s words on the evolving prehistoric human:

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“These early humans evolved the ability to detach and think, their primary advantage in the struggle to avoid predators and find food. It connected them to a reality other animals could not access. Thinking on this level was the single greatest turning point in all of evolution-the emergence of the conscious, reasoning mind.”

With that reasoning mind, they worried often — about predators, their families, where the next meal was coming from, and many other survival basics. These worries were necessary and decisive. They lacked the luxuries of the 21st century and so worry was advantageous and complacency meant death.

Switching gears for a moment, consider the person you love most. Think of how they have proven to you that they love you. Meanwhile, consider your favorite food and how it tastes. In fact, imagine the person you love has prepared that favorite food perfectly. That imagination wouldn’t have been possible if our ancestors did not harness the negatives they developed while simultaneously forging them into positive assets. With that being said, there are times when a person could be manipulated into worrying the wrong way as well.

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The Washington Post recently referenced a study that supposedly proves that men cheat more often when their ages ended with 9. In fact, 18% of the 8,000,000 men on Ashley Madison were, in fact, 9ers. The person who allows their worries to control them may make a rash assumption here. They fail to realize, because they’re becoming distressed, that only 30% of internet interactions actually end in a meet up.

How to Define and Prioritize Your Worries

In order to overcome counter-productive worrying, you must, through practice and discipline, designate time alone to worry. Throughout your day, write any worries that present themselves in a specific place and leave them there until your set aside time. When that time comes, first and foremost, circle all the challenges that you wield no power over. If it cannot be changed, you cannot worry about it.

Next, prioritize your worries from greatest to least. Once you’ve got that in order, decide which ones must be solved the quickest. Then, begin devising the solution to your worry with the highest priority and the least time to solve. Take your time, relax, and make a game plan. Even if this occupies a whole hour, it will amass to much less time than worrying all day, and it will produce more concise and refined results. Obviously there will be decisions daily that have to be made on the fly, but the worry over those decisions and their repercussions should be isolated.

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Pro Tip: Use the 80-20 rule. Focus 20% on the issue, 80% on the answer.

Make Worrying a Role Player in Your Life

Imagine this: the year is 1997 and the Chicago Bulls are tied 86-86 against the Utah Jazz. There’s only one possession left, so you’d imagine Head Coach Phil Jackson wants to see His Royal Airness Michael Jordan take the final shot. Instead, when Michael caught the pass, he himself also passed the ball. To Scottie Pippen of course, you might think? No, M.J. passed to the now Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr. Steve Kerr, without hesitation, drained the deep ball and won the Finals.

Role players are important. Using those role players advantageously is the difference maker. Steve Kerr, a Point Guard who averaged 6.0 points a game and 15 minutes of playing time a game for his career, was a role player.

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Take a moment to compare your life with the ’97 Chicago Bulls. Everyone has a mind that devises up a plan for their lives. This is comparable to Phil Jackson, the Head Coach of the team. We all have key characteristics that we rely on — some speak well, some have great imaginations, etc. Picture your key talents as your Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen of the team. Few people understand who their role players are, and those that do often rely on them very little.

Why don’t you take a pivotal page from our early ancestors and make worry a role player on the team? Understand how to worry to win so well that worrying the right way will lead you to your greatest achievements. Let worry be your Steve Kerr.

Featured photo credit: Kate Williams via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

It is easy, in the onrush of life, to become a reactor – to respond to everything that comes up, the moment it comes up, and give it your undivided attention until the next thing comes up.

This is, of course, a recipe for madness. The feeling of loss of control over what you do and when is enough to drive you over the edge, and if that doesn’t get you, the wreckage of unfinished projects you leave in your wake will surely catch up with you.

Having an inbox and processing it in a systematic way can help you gain back some of that control. But once you’ve processed out your inbox and listed all the tasks you need to get cracking on, you still have to figure out what to do the very next instant. On which of those tasks will your time best be spent, and which ones can wait?

When we don’t set priorities, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. (And following the path of least resistance, as the late, great Utah Phillips reminded us, is what makes the river crooked!) That is, we’ll pick and sort through the things we need to do and work on the easiest ones – leaving the more difficult and less fun tasks for a “later” that, in many cases, never comes – or, worse, comes just before the action needs to be finished, throwing us into a whirlwind of activity, stress, and regret.

This is why setting priorities is so important.

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3 Effective Approaches to Set Priorities

There are three basic approaches to setting priorities, each of which probably suits different kinds of personalities. The first is for procrastinators, people who put off unpleasant tasks. The second is for people who thrive on accomplishment, who need a stream of small victories to get through the day. And the third is for the more analytic types, who need to know that they’re working on the objectively most important thing possible at this moment. In order, then, they are:

1. Eat a Frog

There’s an old saying to the effect that if you wake up in the morning and eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing that the worst thing that can possibly happen to you that day has already passed. In other words, the day can only get better!

Popularized in Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!, the idea here is that you tackle the biggest, hardest, and least appealing task first thing every day, so you can move through the rest of the day knowing that the worst has already passed.

When you’ve got a fat old frog on your plate, you’ve really got to knuckle down. Another old saying says that when you’ve got to eat a frog, don’t spend too much time looking at it! It pays to keep this in mind if you’re the kind of person that procrastinates by “planning your attack” and “psyching yourself up” for half the day. Just open wide and chomp that frog, buddy! Otherwise, you’ll almost surely talk yourself out of doing anything at all.

2. Move Big Rocks

Maybe you’re not a procrastinator so much as a fiddler, someone who fills her or his time fussing over little tasks. You’re busy busy busy all the time, but somehow, nothing important ever seems to get done.

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You need the wisdom of the pickle jar. Take a pickle jar and fill it up with sand. Now try to put a handful of rocks in there. You can’t, right? There’s no room.

If it’s important to put the rocks in the jar, you’ve got to put the rocks in first. Fill the jar with rocks, now try pouring in some pebbles. See how they roll in and fill up the available space? Now throw in a couple handfuls of gravel. Again, it slides right into the cracks. Finally, pour in some sand.

For the metaphorically impaired, the pickle jar is all the time you have in a day. You can fill it up with meaningless little busy-work tasks, leaving no room for the big stuff, or you can do the big stuff first, then the smaller stuff, and finally fill in the spare moments with the useless stuff.

To put it into practice, sit down tonight before you go to bed and write down the three most important tasks you have to get done tomorrow. Don’t try to fit everything you need, or think you need, to do, just the three most important ones.

In the morning, take out your list and attack the first “Big Rock”. Work on it until it’s done or you can’t make any further progress. Then move on to the second, and then the third. Once you’ve finished them all, you can start in with the little stuff, knowing you’ve made good progress on all the big stuff. And if you don’t get to the little stuff? You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you accomplished three big things. At the end of the day, nobody’s ever wished they’d spent more time arranging their pencil drawer instead of writing their novel, or printing mailing labels instead of landing a big client.

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3. Covey Quadrants

If you just can’t relax unless you absolutely know you’re working on the most important thing you could be working on at every instant, Stephen Covey’s quadrant system as written in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change might be for you.

Covey suggests you divide a piece of paper into four sections, drawing a line across and a line from top to bottom. Into each of those quadrants, you put your tasks according to whether they are:

  1. Important and Urgent
  2. Important and Not Urgent
  3. Not Important but Urgent
  4. Not Important and Not Urgent

    The quadrant III and IV stuff is where we get bogged down in the trivial: phone calls, interruptions, meetings (QIII) and busy work, shooting the breeze, and other time wasters (QIV). Although some of this stuff might have some social value, if it interferes with your ability to do the things that are important to you, they need to go.

    Quadrant I and II are the tasks that are important to us. QI are crises, impending deadlines, and other work that needs to be done right now or terrible things will happen. If you’re really on top of your time management, you can minimize Q1 tasks, but you can never eliminate them – a car accident, someone getting ill, a natural disaster, these things all demand immediate action and are rarely planned for.

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    You’d like to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant II, plugging away at tasks that are important with plenty of time to really get into them and do the best possible job. This is the stuff that the QIII and QIV stuff takes time away from, so after you’ve plotted out your tasks on the Covey quadrant grid, according to your own sense of what’s important and what isn’t, work as much as possible on items in Quadrant II (and Quadrant I tasks when they arise).

    Getting to Know You

    Spend some time trying each of these approaches on for size. It’s hard to say what might work best for any given person – what fits one like a glove will be too binding and restrictive for another, and too loose and unstructured for a third. You’ll find you also need to spend some time figuring out what makes something important to you – what goals are your actions intended to move you towards.

    In the end, setting priorities is an exercise in self-knowledge. You need to know what tasks you’ll treat as a pleasure and which ones like torture, what tasks lead to your objectives and which ones lead you astray or, at best, have you spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

    These three are the best-known and most time-tested strategies out there, but maybe you’ve got a different idea you’d like to share? Tell us how you set your priorities in the comments.

    More Tips for Effective Prioritization

    Featured photo credit: Mille Sanders via unsplash.com

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