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Last Updated on April 26, 2018

20 Things Life Is Too Short to Worry About (+ How to Ditch These Worries)

20 Things Life Is Too Short to Worry About (+ How to Ditch These Worries)

Sometimes my life feels like it’s stuck in neutral – like I’m stuck in an endless loop of introduction with no progress. It’s during these times in my life that I stop, sit down, close my eyes, and reset my brain for 10 to 15 minutes. In doing this, I drop my so-called “problems” from my mind and awaken feeling fresh and energized.

I am a nerd with a penchant for numbers and tech, so I tracked my worries as I released their grip on me.

Here are some problems I found myself worrying about far too often before I discovered how to meditate and refocus. Life is too short to worry about…

1. Bills

Death and taxes are far from the only guarantees in life. You’ll repeatedly have your heart broken; enjoy the sun, the moon, eat drink, and be merry – and you’ll have a hard time in life without paying bills.

Whether monthly, quarterly, or annually, bills are relentless. If you ignore them, they only get bigger, louder, and more destructive. The thing is: we all have bills…and letting them run your life isn’t going to improve its quality any time soon.

It’s easy to say not to worry about bills. Everyone knows it’s not a good idea to worry about them, but when you’re drowning in debt and have minimal to no income, it’s a little harder to keep wipe those pesky bills off your mind. Being told life is too short to worry about bills is one thing; having the confidence to stand tall despite insurmountable debt is an entirely different beast. I can assure you that losing your house, car, cable, gas, etc. won’t kill you.

Stop fearing your bills – you’re letting them control your life.

What to do instead?

Here’re some tips:

  • Create a budget for yourself and stick to it. Put your budget over anything else. This will help you get a better view of your bills and how they affect you.
  • Cut unimportant bills. If you’re struggling to make ends meet, cut some of your nonessential bills. Cable TV is one of the easiest bills to cut. There’s a plethora of entertainment options out there, and even if you subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, you’ll be spending less annually than a cable bill.
  • Pay back any debts to family and friends first. They’re the people who will be there for you at the bottom, not your bank and utility companies.
  • Keep your collateral loans (i.e auto loan and mortgage) current. The last thing you want to lose is your home and car. If you have to choose between the two, sacrifice your home over your car. In a worst case scenario, it’s better to be mobile.

2. Money

Money is the cause of and solution to life’s most unnecessary problems. We need bread – there’s no denying that – we just don’t need to allow cheddar to be the source of undue stress.

Always remember that currency is imaginary, and economies don’t exist in nature. Since moolah is imaginary, all of your worries about said funds are in your head. People do some strange things for paper, and I’ll never understand why. Material wealth doesn’t equate to happiness.

What to do instead?

Instead of stressing about your supply of coinage, try focusing on the things that make you happy. If you pursue a job that satisfies your desire for greenbacks, you risk ending up in a career you hate. Dinero won’t solve that problem, nor will it help you find like-minded friends.

People who pursue their dreams and passions always have more fulfilling stages than those motivated by loot.

3. The past

The beef-witted among us who don’t learn history are doomed to hear it repeated over and over by those who do. Most of humanity’s violent wars were waged because of conflicting beliefs over what happened in the past.

The past is important to learn from, but you shouldn’t let it get in your way and become a burden. Instead, face forward, and brush that dirt off your shoulders.

What to do instead?

We all faced obstacles in our past. There’s no need to run from or be ashamed of who you are or where you came from, but don’t let what happened to you distract you from your personal goals.

Learn from your hardships, and fight harder next time. The only way you can continue being harmed by something that already happened is if you let it.

4. Who’s sleeping with whom

Gossip is the worst. I don’t mind talking to my friends or partner about what’s going on in their lives, but I’m entirely uninterested in hearing about everyone’s dating and sex lives.

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Is it doing you any good to know that Joe and Donna are hooking up in the break room at work? Sure, you’ll know the counters aren’t safe to eat off, but you really should already know that. What else are you gaining – a conversation starter? You’ll end up looking like the work gossip, who nobody likes nor trusts.

What to do instead?

Instead of joining the grapes on the vine, worry about you.

While we’re on the subject, there’s really no need for everyone to know who you are hooking up with either. It’s not necessary to hide your sex life (and you should certainly be honest about it with your partner), but it doesn’t need to be in your repertoire of icebreaking conversation fodder.

Life’s just too short to worry about the sex lives of others.

5. Haters

Think about all the celebrities you don’t like or don’t care about: Kim Kardashian has no business being famous, Justin Bieber is overrated, LeBron James is no Michael Jordan. Regardless of how you feel about any of these people, they have successful careers.

Although they get their share of hate mail, successful people continue doing what they’re doing. Now apply this concept to your own life.

What to do instead?

People aren’t always going to like what you do; there’s Haterade in the water everywhere. Whether you’re a local celebrity or a virtual unknown, you’re going to step on some toes.

I’ve met people who are the absolute kindest, compassionate, most thoughtful, and likable human beings, and they STILL have had haters say and do some of the most despicable things to them. If I stopped and stressed out every time someone didn’t like my decisions, I’d never have accomplished anything in life. Don’t stress the haters.

6. Work

There will always be projects, chores, errands, and emergencies at work. Nobody has a career that’s without stressful situations. It helps to love what you do, but even if you don’t, work is a silly thing to get uptight about.

What to do instead?

If you’re not at work, there’s nothing to worry about. If you are at work, then stop crying over spilt milk, roll up your sleeves, and be productive. The less you worry about work, the quicker it goes by.

Never be ashamed of who you are or what you do to earn a living. You’re not defined by your career; you define it.

7. Aging

Getting old is a difficult and scary task – there’s no denying that. We all go through the same stress, anxiety, fear, worry, and doubt. It’s understandable to feel a little bit stressed about aging, but you have to keep in mind there’s nothing you can do about it. You’re going to age whether you like it or not.

There’s nothing you can do to stop the process, but you can embrace it and make the most of your time.

What to do instead?

Aging is a part of life. Instead of worrying about your impending geriatric state, enjoy the present you exist in right now. You’ll only be this old once, so do all the fun things you always wanted to do at that age. Stop wishing you were younger.

Don’t waste your time worrying about not being old enough yet either. Being a kid has its advantages. You get small punishments for making mistakes at school or at home, admission prices are cheaper, and bills are usually free. You can’t speed or slow time. Enjoy your life the way it is right now.

8. Death

Sooner or later in your life, you’re going to have to face the inevitability of your own death. You can’t dodge the grim reaper, and hiding is only going to hinder you from living your life to the fullest. You won’t give your all when you’re holding back.

After you face death, you’ll find it easier to face over and over throughout life. You’ll have more courage and tenacity.

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Death isn’t easy to face; religions have spawned throughout the human history in an attempt to soothe people’s fears of oblivion. If you go to sleep, you may not wake up, and even if you do wake up, no matter how safe you are, we could be nuked by another country or a meteor could fall out the sky and kill us all.

What to do instead?

Unless you’re reading this from a professional shelter, you have no chance of surviving an extinction-level event. Now face mortality, and go live your life.

9. What people think

When I was younger, I always said I didn’t care what people thought of me, but the reality is very different. In my mid to late 20s, I completely stopped caring what people thought of me. By the time 30 hit, I jumped out of an airplane and hit the ground running. I blew the whistle on the banks and started living my life as though nobody was there.

I started being me, regardless of what my friends, family, or the guy at the other end of the barrel aimed at me thought about it.

Fitting in is an advantage in certain situations, but it’s certainly not the end-all, be-all for every situation in life. There are times when you need to keep a low profile, but for the most part, unless you’re a secret agent or political leader, feel free to let loose sometimes and have fun, regardless of what people think of you.

10. Celebrities

Paparazzi follow celebrities everywhere they go, snapping pictures, videos, and sound bites to feed to the convoluted masses. They’d have no reason to take pictures if there weren’t hordes of people hungering to learn the latest celebrity gossip. Why does it matter, though? Does knowing what Mariah Carey is smoking or who Daniel Radcliffe is dating get you anywhere in life?

What to do instead?

There’s plenty more going on in the world outside the lives of celebrities. Stop worrying about their drama.

11. What other people are doing

It’s not just celebrities – some people get into everyone’s business. What can you learn about life from other people’s business?

I’m reminded of times as a kid where I would say “but ___ is going to the movies” as a way of convincing my parents to grant me permission to go. Their answer was a useful lesson: don’t worry about what other people are doing. They’re not paying your bills or putting food on your table. Their problems aren’t yours, and there’s no reason to take them on.

What to do instead?

If you’re constantly following the example of others, you will never get ahead in life. People who get ahead don’t emulate their peers. They walk their own path and inspire others to follow suit. Don’t worry about where everyone else is going or what they’re doing – focus on you.

12. Safety and comfort

It’s nice to have somewhere safe and comfortable to lay your head at night. Comfort foods and our comfort zone are important aspects of our life, and it’s difficult to feel comfortable if you’re not safe. This is why some aspect of safety and comfort is necessary.

You can’t get too comfortable in that shell though. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to break out of your comfort zone and experience life.

What to do instead?

Taking chances is important in life. If you never take chances, you’ll never stand up for yourself, and you’ll likely not have very much fun.

Instead of being meek and introverted, stop worrying about living to be 100, and start worrying about having a little bit of fun. After all, you only live once.

13. Mistakes

Don’t worry too much when you make a mistake – nobody’s perfect.

When you make a mistake (especially a string of them), it’s easy to get frustrated and feel like everything is falling apart. Stress can compound as you race toward deadlines, and the inkling to throw in the towel starts to build up inside.

It’s ok. You may need to pay some sort of retribution for your mistake, but that which doesn’t kill you only gives you an opportunity to prove who you really are.

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What to do instead?

Figure out what caused the mistake and what you can do next time to avoid it or improve the outcome in at least some minor way. Remember what Thomas Edison said about mistakes being the key to innovation; we stumbled upon some of our greatest inventions by mistake. It’s not the end of the world.

14. Winning the lottery

There’s nothing wrong with occasionally throwing a couple dollars down on the lottery. Someone has to win, and it very well may be you.

Someone else also has to get eaten by a shark, struck by lightning, and abducted by aliens, but you’re not waiting for one of these pivotal moments to occur in your life before finally taking action. Why would you wait for some imaginary (and highly unlikely) windfall before giving life your all?

What to do instead?

While it’s ok to play the lottery, don’t put all your chips into that. Don’t depend on the lottery, God, or some other unlikely external factor to come swoop you away from your life – work with what you have.

By pursuing your dreams and goals, you won’t have to worry about the lottery; you’ll feel like you already won.

15. What can go wrong

I’m not going to drive to the store today.

I may run out of gas, traffic will be busy, the store’s probably closed or crowded, they won’t have the item I’m looking for or it’ll be too expensive, I’ll forget my wallet, my car will get hit in the parking lot, someone may shoot up the store while I’m there, my car will break down, I’ll lose my key, and my house will get robbed while I’m gone…

Because of these possibilities, I’m going to sit home all day and do nothing instead.

If you don’t start something because you’re scared of all the things that may go wrong, you’re probably better off, because you can’t be successful if you don’t know how to react when faced with adversity.

No matter how well you make your plans, something is going to go wrong. The United States government is one of the most powerful entities in human history, and they’re constantly running damage control. Do you really think your plan is going to go off without a hitch if even they can’t do it?

What to do instead?

Stop letting what might go wrong stop you from doing what might go right. Start taking actions and stop procrastinating.

I know that fear is hard to conquer, so you must face it, and this guide can help you: A Step-By-Step Guide to Face Your Fear and Stop Procrastinating

16. Worrying

After a while, your worries start to pile up to the point that you begin to even worry about worrying. Once you’re stuck in this cycle, it’s very difficult to get out.

Although you’re better off not doing it, there’s nothing wrong with worrying – worrying about worrying is a good sign you need to stop and take a minute.

What to do instead?

If you ever find yourself in this position, the first thing you need to remember is to breathe. Now stop getting frustrated with you.

If life is too short to worry about death, it’s certainly too short to beat yourself up over being human and having a natural reaction.

17. The pricetag

When I was a kid, I loved Pop Tarts, but my parents were poor (which came hand-in-hand with cheapness), so we’d get the generic version, which taste like cough syrup. Sure, they saved $1 on the face value of the generics, but it put me in a position where not only did I still crave Pop Tarts, but we were stuck with generic garbage that inevitably went stale since no one ate it.

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This is a pattern that continued throughout much of my childhood.

Price isn’t everything. Worry about the quality and value of the product you’re getting (especially food and pharmaceuticals). McDonald’s dollar menu won’t cut it when you’re in the mood for a good steak.

What to do instead?

I hate to sound bourgeois, but quality is an important aspect in life.

If you want a really nice jacket, work hard, sell a few things, and save up the money to buy the one you really want instead of settling for a product you’re not happy with simply because it’s cheaper.

18. The small stuff

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Little things go wrong every day in our lives.

You woke up late, a dollar short for your lunch, got splashed by a car walking through the parking lot, tripped going up the stairs, and your zipper was down for a really important meeting…

If you consider that a bad day, you’re archiving your life the wrong way.

What to do instead?

Instead of getting frustrated by the little things, focus on all the positives.

The sunset, cloud formations, the smell of the trees and flowers around you, food, drinks, love, passion – there are entirely too many great things happening on a day to day basis to worry about the little annoyances in life.

19. Anything else outside your control

My girlfriend’s mantra when life gets too stressful is, “this too shall pass.” I mix it up between “this is only temporary.” The general idea is to stop yourself from getting annoyed about that which is outside your control.

I don’t like the President, and I’m appalled at the way whistleblowing heroes like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden are treated, but there’s nothing I can do about it at the present moment.

I had a cat named Shady (aptly named so because of his tendency as a kitten to purr, nudge, and kneed, then suddenly bite you). Shady was convinced that I controlled the weather and would angrily meow at me whenever it rained. That must be what God feels like listening to everyone’s prayers. I can’t stop the rain – it’s autonomous. Instead, I make the day with hot cocoa, s’mores, and espresso liqueur.

What to do instead?

The easiest way to reduce stress is to stop thinking about all the dumb stuff you can’t control so you can focus on whatever task is at hand – whether it’s good or bad, focusing on your present is the easiest way to either resolve or enjoy what’s happening to you.

20. Being perfect

At the end of the day, you need to accept yourself for your own faults. Life’s too short to dwell on anything for too long unless it makes you feel happy and fulfilled.

Sure, you’ll make mistakes along the way, but that’s part of the fun.

What to do instead?

Stop wasting your time trying to be faultless. Test your own boundaries, and you’ll begin to enjoy life so much more.

For example, I can’t stand when I don’t finish something up to my personal standards. I have an almost Sheldon Cooper-level impulse to finish things, but to help suppress that worry, every so often, I don’t finish…

If you think you’re prone to having a perfectionist mindset, this article may help you: How Perfectionism Secretly Screws You Up (And How to Change Your Perfectionist Mindset)

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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