I am. A bit. Not a lot, but a bit. And certainly not as much as I used to be.
I think it’s natural to worry isn’t it – I mean, normal. Everyone does it.
But some people worry a lot.
They worry about whether they are good enough, successful enough, nice enough, fair enough, kind enough, tough enough, and just about every other ‘enough’ it’s possible to imagine. They worry about failing, succeeding, leaving, joining, promoting, demoting, and having vacations. They worry about children, parents, brothers, sisters, and those more distant relations they should do more to stay in touch with. They worry about money, and health, and relationships, and blocked drains and buildings insurance. They worry about staff issues, budget constraints, health and safety, teaching standards and all sorts of other elements that will, at various times, play on your mind.
As a leader responsible for the successful running of a school, it’s highly likely that you find things to be concerned about, and which occupy your thinking.
But that is not the same as worrying about these things. So what can we understand about worrying that might help us do it less?
Worrying isn’t much fun.
It engages the imagination and focuses it on what could go wrong, or is going wrong, and invests it with unpleasant emotions. As worry increases, so the story we tell ourselves about how the future will work out becomes more and more a tragedy, and our anticipation of that future amplifies the unpleasant emotions.
Human beings are teleological, just like guided missiles – once the destination target, or goal, has been input and given energy, if we are knocked off course, we are automatically compelled to adjust our behaviour so we hit the original target, to turn what we have imagined into reality. Have you ever noticed how things you worry about loom larger and larger, and seem more and more likely to happen the more you worry about them? Have you noticed too, how things only really improve when the need to avoid what you are worrying about overcomes the anxiety and drives a determined effort?
Most people agree that worrying is not a contributory factor in success, whilst awareness and consciousness is.
This psychological process is what allows us to set goals and achieve them.
To set and achieve amazing goals, we engage our imagination, focus on what we want (or want to go right) and invest it with uplifting emotions. So, if you look at what I said earlier about worrying, you’ll see we use the very same psychological and emotional approach to achieve amazing things, as we do to worry about and drive ourselves towards what could go wrong – but the flavour, or content, of the approach is very different.
Worrying is just negative goal setting! If you are a high achiever, it’s best not to worry too much!
It’s unlikely that anyone can totally eliminate worrying from their daily repertoire, but we can all do our best to take command of how we think so we experience less worry, and more achievement; less strain and more gain; less fear and more joy; less pessimism, and more optimism.
Someone who worries a LOT recently told me they didn’t know how to not worry! So it got me thinking and I came up with a plan.
When you begin to worry, stop and think. Refocus on what the solution, or ideal outcome, is; imagine that happening, over and over, and invest it with positive, and uplifting emotions. Imagine actually being there and experiencing that outcome – AS IF it is already happening, and you are there experiencing it through your own eyes. Feel what it feels like to succeed or overcome.
Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want, because experience shows that we most often get what we think about the most.
If you suffer from excessive worry, contact us so we can help you turn your awesome goal setting ability into a positive contributor to your success.