You ever lie awake at night, thinking about your business?
Yeah, me too.
Tax season, especially, keeps me and my team running a little crazy, and the adrenaline of handling so many clients, and doing it well, sometimes lasts into the night for me.
But when I “wake up” in the morning after a bout of *worry*-fueled sleeplessness, splash some water on my face and grab a cup of coffee … I am often reminded that what I was worrying about just didn’t make sense.
I’ve lost too many hours of sleep as a business owner, frankly. But I’ve slept much better when I worked through this simple exercise for my worries. It’s from the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy, but I’ve modified it a bit for my own use.
So, here’s how I think you can stop worrying …
“Remember you will not always win. Some days, the most resourceful individual will taste defeat. But there is, in this case, always tomorrow – after you have done your best to achieve success today.” – Maxwell Maltz
For many people, worrying about things can become more vexing than the original problem they were grappling with in the first place.
I’m an accounting professional — so I’ll use an image I can understand: Imagine that you are facing a terrible tax situation and facing six figures of possible tax obligation. You’ve hired a good accountant in San Diego, and you’re praying she’s going to be able to help you. She leans over and says, “Don’t worry. I never do. I never worry about a thing. Instead, I just try to think positively.”
Now ask yourself: “Is this the person I want representing me? Someone who doesn’t worry about anything — not even what’s going to happen to her client?”
The answer, of course, is a resounding NO. You want an accountant who’s going to worry over details. And cover everything that needs to be covered, so you don’t end up in hock for multiple six figures! What you want is for your accountant to worry, and then take appropriate action so that she is prepared.
Now imagine an accountant who leans over and whispers to you, “Wanna know my secret? I never prepare for my client matters — I just worry. It’s why I’m known as such a great accountant. All I do is worry. As a matter of fact, a lot of times I actually worry myself sick and have to go into the restroom and throw up.”
Do you want this person representing you? NO! What you want is an accountant who can help you solve your problems. And that’s exactly what your worry should do for you: help you solve your problems. If it doesn’t, you’re probably participating in unproductive worry, which is unlikely to get you anywhere, except on your way to becoming overly anxious and probably depressed.
So here is the exercise which has kept me from worrying needlessly — but rather, doing it productively. I start by asking these two questions to keep worry in its proper place …
1. Is the problem plausible or reasonable? If you’re getting ready to take a trip to a national park, for instance, it’s appropriate to worry about getting accurate directions and your car tuned-up before you go. Worrying about being shot by a sniper along the way, which is unlikely, is probably a waste of time.
2. Can something be done about the problem immediately? If you answer yes to this question, then you can probably come up with an action plan to get something done that will alleviate your worry. If your cashflow is down, how can you INCREASE it by selling more, and obtaining more new clients — rather than worrying about the expense side of the coin. If your production has suffered recently, what are the positive steps you can take … rather than fixating on who to blame?
You get the idea.
Use these questions, and start sleeping better at night. I know I do.