Are You Planning Retreats or Regrets? The Snowball Effect
Andreea Macoveiciuc | On 31, Jan 2014
Already planning this weekend’s regrets? Oh, sorry, did I say regrets? I meant retreats.
I was listening to a radio show this morning and the topic was worrying, or better said, how to stop worrying and start living a happier and more relaxed life. Dale Carnegie wrote a book titled “How to stop worrying and start living”, and one of the most inspiring lines from his book says something like this: the best way to prepare for tomorrow is to focus with all your power and enthusiasm on today’s work.
So I’m asking you again: are you planning your weekend’s retreats or regrets?
We’ve become so critical and so demanding, and we’ve created standards that we believe everyone should meet, if they are going to interact with us. We’ve become accustomed to very rigid lifestyles and we’ve adopted so unhealthy thinking patterns that we easily get depressed, angry and defensive when something doesn’t turn out as we expect it to.
“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”, right? Well not necessarily and if we stopped thinking this way, maybe we would enjoy our lives a bit more and wouldn’t try so hard to achieve things we don’t even need!
Like a snowball, so acts worrying
Not sure if you’re familiar with the Snowball effect. This concept describes a process that starts from something that’s barely significant but builds upon itself until it becomes very serious or even dangerous and threatening.
Look at the cute snowball below. Poor him, if only he could stop the snowball effect!
When we start planning, assuming and creating expectations, we actually prepare ourselves for deception and unhappiness. When we start worrying about things that could happen, we prepare ourselves for depression. And when we focus more on tomorrow’s probabilities and risks than on today’s opportunities, we prepare ourselves for failure.
Let me give you a quick example: two people are competing for the same job. One of them knows he has nothing to lose; he’s well aware of his strengths and weaknesses, prepares for the meeting as well as he can, and goes to the interview with a positive and relaxed attitude. The other one worries a lot about the interview, is terrified by the idea of failing and thinks that his entire life depends on that job. Despite being skilled and experienced enough for the position, this guy is very likely to fail because of his unhealthy attitude.
The snowball effect kicks in and our guy becomes overwhelmed by fear and worries: the otherwise normal restlessness turns into anxiety and paralyzes his thoughts. So instead of spending the day before the interview with a relaxed and productive state of mind, our guy allows for every second that passes to solidify his fear and to reduce his chances of success to zero.
Both these guys want and need the job, but the former knows that worrying and adopting a fearful attitude won’t help him, while the latter makes worrying his way of life.
Excessive worrying turns “I might fail” into “I will fail”
Worrying prepares you for failure. Then a vicious cycle starts and the more you worry, the less likely you are to achieve things and to be productive in what you do. You worry – you fail – you worry even more because you think there won’t be another opportunity for you.
Worrying for tomorrow adds no value to your today, but giving your best today can change tomorrow completely.
So does this mean I should stop planning and thinking about the future? Oh no, on the contrary, I advise you to do plans and to always keep your long-term goals in mind when starting a new project or rejecting a proposal. Planning your days is more likely to take you toward your goals than not planning anything and going with the flow.
Below is Benjamin Franklin’s daily schedule. Looks very strict and … planned, right? And while it’s not necessarily related to worrying, it does teach us (at least) one valuable thing: have a resolution of the day, and start every morning with that resolution in mind.
Focus on today and on what you can do, rather than worrying about what you can’t influence, and whatever your 100% is, give it. You may not see results immediately, but today’s hard work will pay off eventually.