Anticipation or worry?

Photo courtesy of spaceodissey (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of spaceodissey (Creative Commons)

There is a fine line between anticipation and worry, and how do you know when you’ve crossed it?

For me, anticipation feels crisp and exciting, bringing energy and focus throughout the day, and a lightness of spirit that just makes me want to smile.

In contrast, worry feels dull and heavy, leading to mind whirls in the night which keep me from sleeping, eyes glazed over when I need to be focused on a task or project, and a faded, distracted feeling throughout the day.

Anticipation and worry can apply in any situation, whether you are leading a project at work, moving to a new home, dealing with an illness, or contemplating taking on a new responsibility. Spending time in worry is totally unproductive. So what is the trick to staying on the anticipation side of that line?

  • Recognition: pay attention to the signs and notice when the excitement slips into the dullness. Being aware of the difference is half the battle.
  • Routine: stick to your routines as much as possible, including eating well, exercising regularly and maintaining as regular a bedtime as you can.
  • Plan: make plans to succeed, including as many lists as you need to feel comfortable that the bases are covered. Worry feeds on disorganization and vagueness.
  • Options: remember that you have options. Even in situations where you cannot choose the outcome (such as the loss of a loved one or being laid off), you can choose how you react.

It is impossible to always reflect hope and anticipation – I think it’s just human nature to slip into worry occasionally. The challenge is to stay aware enough to notice the signs, take a deep breath and turn back toward a positive outlook.

How do you counteract worry?