I’m beginning to hate writing.
Not because I don’t like talking to people or expressing myself. But because every time I sit down to write something, I have to make a choice.
I have to decide whom I want to present myself as. With each word I write, I have to decide if I should be my “real” self, or if there’s some enhanced Internet Daniel that I should be more like.
And if there is, I have to figure out what the hell that guy would say.
On top of all the other decisions I have to make every day, that’s just tiring.
Who is reading this?
How do I sound to them? How do I want to sound?
What will they think of me, and if they don’t like what they read…will they stop reading?
And honestly, I get worried. A lot.
I get worried that people will read what I write and think I’m some prick, fake-phony snake oil salesman Internet skeezebag.
Or I get worried that people will genuinely start to like me, but then I’ll let them down somehow.
I’m sick of worrying. I don’t want to worry anymore.
The downside of having figured some things out, made some money, done some cool business things and made some small achievements…is when you tell people the two or three things you’ve figured out, they expect you to have answers to other problems too.
I don’t have any answers.
That also worries me.
Am I supposed to have answers? Oh God, if I am supposed to have answers at 25, I’m drastically behind.
If someone were to ask me “are you a worrier” though, I’d probably say no.
But I’d be lying.
I worry about a million little things every day. Don’t you?
Sometimes we don’t even realize what’s going on while it’s happening.
Today, I was at the gym working on my vertical jumps off of those little teal and purple stackable step blocks and there were two guys working out in the aerobics room on the heavy bags. As I kept stacking the blocks higher and higher, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make the jump.
I had this terrifying, completely vivid blu-ray quality mental image that my clumsy toe was going to catch on the blocks, and send them all crashing down, and I’d land in a horrifically twisted pile, writhing in agony. Then the guys would turn around and laugh at me.
Or maybe they would just look in the mirror without turning around, shaking their heads and laughing at me.
Or worst of all, maybe they would come and try to help me up.
That would be completely emasculating. I don’t want fucking help.
Then, from that day forward, all of us would know, if only non-verbally, that they were the alpha males and I was just a tiny beta male peon.
And every time I passed them in the gym, I would feel inferior.
All those scenarios, their outcomes, and the potential accompanying emotional states flew through my head in about 3 seconds before I attempted to make the jump, stacked 19 blocks high.
And I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t do it, man.
I felt slow. I felt like there was a glassy haze over my senses.
My brain was just too cluttered. I stood there frozen. All the spring was sapped from by calves. All my energy was drained. I was literally paralyzed. I made a couple feeble attempts to get my spring back, but I just felt like my grandma trying to get out of her chair.
Have you ever felt utterly paralyzed by worry?
If there was some version of me that could have made that jump, some doppelgänger out there in a parallel reality that had the athleticism, another doppelgänger might as well have put a gun to the first guy’s head and blew his beautiful little brains all over the linoleum.
I killed myself in three seconds with worry.
Sometimes I wake up at 3am worried.
Will my business keep going well? What if all my clients dry up, and nobody wants to work with me? What if I can’t feed myself?
What if I make a stupid mistake and everything I’ve built gets torn down?
One time I got in a fight with my girlfriend and she said that I “wasn’t even her type anyway”.
Was she saying that just to hurt me?
What if I’m really not her type? Is she going to cheat on me? Is she already cheating on me?
I think she likes dark guys. Should I start going to a tanning booth?
Worries, worries, worries.
Compound worries for the future with over-analysis of the past and it leaves precisely zero percent of your mental capacity to seek opportunities and enhance your creative muscles in the present.
Why are we even worrying so much anyway? What’s there really to worry about?
I don’t know about you, but when I’m worried, I’m not at my best. I think when I’m worried, I actually get stupider.
I haven’t run any statistical tests to back this up, but I think if you were to take two IQ tests, one when I was fraught with worry and one when I was at…I dunno, say…Disney World or something….you’d find that I am much smarter on Space Mountain.
When I’m happy, when I’m not agonizing over the past or obsessing about the future, I actually make smarter, more insightful, more creative decisions.
When I’m not worried about anything, I’m actually pretty brilliant.
As entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs, we can’t afford to get any stupider because we are worrying about things we can’t control.
To have the clarity to make smarter decisions, we have to stop worrying so much about things that are outside of our locus of control and instead, only focus on the things that we can control. Period.
We have to mentally clean house.
Our brains are computers – and when a computer has too many programs running in the background, it crashes.
Let’s sort things into 3 buckets:
- Things I can’t control.
- Things I can control, but I’m choosing to let go of.
- Things I can control and I’m going to act on immediately.
Notice how there’s no fourth category that says: “Things I can’t control but I’m still going to think about incessantly until I can find a way to control them, or if I really can’t find a way to control them, spend energy being worried about the potential outcome.”
Most of us love this phantom fourth choice. Forget that guy. Banish him to Siberia. He’s no longer an option.
And while you’re at it, banish the options in buckets 1 and 2 as well.
Anything you can’t control in bucket 1 gets the mental DELETE button.
99% of everything in the entire world falls into this bucket.
What people think of you. The actions others take. The way people feel about things you say or do. Events that happen as a result of things you can’t control. DELETE, DELETE, DELETE.
This isn’t to say you should be a thoughtless prick. Be kind to others. Do your best. But if that’s still not good enough, throw your hands up and be done with it.
Some things you can control, but you should choose not to engage them. Just because you CAN make a choice, doesn’t mean you should. Sometimes the tradeoff just isn’t worth it.
You could choose to continue a business or personal relationship that causes you worry and anxiety. You could push through. But why? DELETE.
You could choose to continue a fruitless argument, but in the end, it won’t make a difference whether you “win” or not. The damage is in the arguing, not the outcome. Just DELETE.
I only want to deal with things in bucket 3. Things I can immediately engage and have an impact on. If there’s something I can do that will resolve the situation, or at least make the situation better, I want to do it immediately.
Otherwise, I’m not going to let worry and clutter simmer in my subconscious and take up precious mental energy.
This isn’t the same as saying that I don’t care about outcomes. I do. I’ve just come to realize that I rarely have the power to change the path of people or events in my life. So I do my best, then I just stop worrying about it. Because worry has never helped me solve any of my toughest problems. And I’m only interested in being alive if I’m solving tough problems.
Worry is a doppelgänger that’s come to murder our creative selves.
So I’m just going to stop worrying. I’m done with it.
You should leave a comment and tell me what you think. That’d be cool. Then again, if you don’t, I’m not going to worry about it.
Daniel DiPiazza is the founder of Rich20Something, where he teaches young people how to stop doing shit that they hate and break free of 9 to 5 boredom by starting their own businesses. Click here to join his tribe of hungry young entrepreneurs and get free coaching.Subscribe to the Podcast