Thinking About The Future Brings Anxiety
The US Open of Golf was just going on.
In the lead up to it I heard announcer and former player Paul Azinger on a few podcasts.
Paul is really an interesting guy. He has great stories. He’s passionate about golf and life.
On one of the podcasts he brought up something really interesting. He was talking about golf and how crazy it can make you feel.
It just brings about this anxiety in most people. The pressure to hit a little white ball toward a hole on a green.
It’s so simple, but definitely not easy to pull off.
Anyway, Paul said:
Thinking about the future brings anxiety.
I thought…it is that simple.
But it’s not that easy.
As with most things in life, being anxious or worrying is good…to a point.
It’s good to think about the future. It’s good to have a plan. That plan might not work out exactly as you think, but that’s life. It’s still good to know where you’re going.
But excessive worrying becomes an issue. It makes you crazy. It hurts your health.
Do you know someone that worries themselves to death? Someone that can’t sleep at night because there are a million thoughts in their head?
I immediately though to at least three people.
In golf, bad shots happen for a lot of reasons. But one of the most common is thinking about the future.
It’s cliche at this point in the sport, but you really do have to take care of your current business. You can’t think about the next hole when you have to hit a drive down a tight fairway.
You can’t think about the trophy the winner gets when you’re on Hole #2 needing to hit a 4 iron to a small green.
The best golfers are able to think about the task at hand. They don’t drift into the future. And therefore they avoid thinking about the future.
And they avoid anxiety and worry…most times.
If you’re ever feeling anxious a good trick is to think about the very next thing you have to do. Place extra importance on it because it is important. Don’t get ahead of yourself.
It’s not about hitting a million sales this year. It’s about the first call you have in the morning.
The Worst Case
Another part of worrying and thinking about the future is that we often make things out to be worse than they actually are.
We think about losing our job. Or losing a client. Or all kinds of bad things.
Yes, bad things are bad. There is no way around that.
But most bad things aren’t really that bad.
A little game I like to play in my head sometimes is to think about the worst case scenario.
Like, what if my business crashed.
That’s a worst case scenario.
Then I play out my next moves. I find a job. Or I cut back on expenses. Sell the house. Move into a smaller house. Get some kind of job to get me through for awhile until I can start another job.
Then I realize it’s not that bad. My family can live in a smaller house. We can be frugal.
Is it ideal?
Of course not, but it’s still not that bad.
I did that when I quit my job.
What’s the worst case?
Sure, I’d feel bad. I’d be embarrassed, but I’d get a job and move on.
Just move on. Not that bad.
The Bronze Medal Winner
One final thing on this topic is the idea of the bronze medal winner according to Derek Sivers.
The idea is that the gold medal is probably the most happy. The silver medal winner is probably the least happy. And the bronze is pretty happy too.
The silver winner is comparing themselves to the gold. So they feel bad. The bonze often compares themselves to the fourth place finisher. The one that got no medal.
If you’re ever thinking ahead in life and feeling anxious just compare yourself down.
I see that in golf.
If you’re anxious you’re in a position of opportunity. You probably need to hit a good shot to win or to do well. That means that you’ve already done better than most people in the event.
Compare yourself down. Then you feel good. Things don’t seem so bad.
Golf reflects life in a lot of ways. The more we think forward the more we screw up in golf.
But the more we stay in the present and keep things in proper perspective the better we can perform.
It’s a weird thing, but life is like that too. The more we think ahead the anxious we get. The more we worry.
But if we do a couple tricks to stay in the present we can often weather an emotional storm. We can often remember that life is pretty good and that we’re doing just fine.