We could disagree about a lot: the merits of ketchup on a Chicago-style hot dog, vanilla or chocolate, Cubs or Sox. But most of us would agree on something totally worthless: worry.
Take education, for example. A certain level of stress is a good motivator to prepare for an exam. Worrying will only cause you to lose sleep, make simple mistakes, and doubt yourself. It can overwhelm your thoughts and even behaviors. Luckily, Dale Carnegie has some proven remedies. In his book, How to Stop Worrying & Start Living, Carnegie ran continuous studies on what conquered worry best.
For parents and students out there, let’s see how we can apply these to your academic career.
Worry Remedy 1: Analyze the Worry
(Gets rid of 90% of worry)
On a piece of paper, write down two questions:
What am I worried about? Describe this worry in precise detail. Identify the feeling, even explain why if you feel the need.
“I am worried I will fail my test.”
What can I do about it? Write at least three courses of action. Action eliminates worry. The process of writing down courses of action gives you a feeling of control. Rationalizing and processing which choice is best gives you the confidence you need in your decision to move forward.
– meet with my professor to ask questions
– wing it
You weigh the pros and cons of each one and the answer should come forward as more productive and beneficial than the others.
Remedy 2: Imagine and mentally accept the worst-case scenario
(10% of the worry eliminated)
This improves concentration.
So, you fail your test. Are you dead? Does everyone in your life hate you? Say your parents are disappointed in you. Even if they are, time goes on, and you can use this as an opportunity to learn and improve. Even though failure is scary and can hurt, failures do not define you. How you behave does. This is not an invitation to accept failure and become complacent. No one respects a student who shrugs and says, “So what.” You can emotionally accept your failures without limiting yourself to them.
Don’t shrug off a failure and continue with the same unproductive habits. Investigate why you failed, learn from your mistakes, and improve for next time.
Our habits define us. Successful people have to fail tons of times to eventually succeed. But they also get back up tons of times, focus, discipline themselves, and take responsibility. You can, too.
Visualizing a catastrophic outcome pulls the fear into focus and makes it seem more real. As Mr. Rogers said, “If it is mentionable, it is manageable.” When you can “mention” and look clearly at your worries, you can then manage them and move forward. You’re afraid of failing your test. But if it comes to that, you will survive and deal with it when it comes. And in the meantime…
Remedy 3: Live in day-tight compartments
(Prevents worry from cropping up again in the future)
Wake up every morning imagining you’re living a new life. Your old fears and regrets have died with the old version of yourself.
“If I take care of today, tomorrow will take care of itself.” – Dale Carnegie
Do today’s work superbly, and tomorrow won’t be an issue. That’s all that should concern you: what you can actually do something about. There are physical things you can do about your problems! But only if you get that pesky worry out of your way.
For more, check out Productivity Game’s video summary: