Low-level anxiety about the future is an insidious form of stress that can sap your confidence just like a slow leak in your car’s radiator compromises the engine’s power. However, not knowing is a normal part of life. At the extreme, we do not usually know when or how we will die, yet few of us obsess about that. Instead, we waste precious mental cycles and heartbeats worrying about little things outside of our control, over which we crave an unattainable certainty.
A professional driver checks his car’s tire pressure, fluid levels, belts, hoses and lights before he sets out for a day of driving. You can also take control of these confidence leaks and restore your mental and emotional energy by performing this ten-point inspection on a daily basis.
1. Check your clarity
The main cause for worrying about success is not being clear on what success looks, sounds, tastes, smells and feels like. What do you really want? Is your desired outcome defined using the SMART criteria (Specific, Measurable, Audacious, Real, Time-bound)? The more clarity you have about what you want, the more likely you will get it, since every interim result gives you information you need to adjust your course and steer towards success.
2. Check your environment
Does your environment support the results that you want? Are you letting the media’s negative messages distract you (advertising, news, junk entertainment)? Are you surrounding yourself with positive reminders of the future that you want? Do you have systems in place to take care of the niggly details (“date it, delegate it, dump it or do it”)?
3. Check your boundaries
Are you clear about what you will and will not accept from others? Are you letting other people’s priorities, anxieties and dramas influence your well-being?
4. Check your commitment
How strongly aligned is the outcome you want with your personal values and priorities? Do you want this because of you, or because of pressure from someone else? Can you clearly answer the questions “Why this? Why now? Why me?”
5. Check your reserves
Do you have the resources, knowledge, time and money to make this happen? If not, what do you need to do right now to build up your reserves?
6. Check your results
Where are you at right now? Get real. Tell the truth. Create numerical indicators for your progress. Imagine driving a car without a working fuel gauge – how would you know when you would be running out of gas? I find that the principal source of money anxiety is not having a clear idea of your current financial status – simply updating your Quicken files on a daily basis provides a significant calming effect, even if the current financial picture is bad. Create a “dashboard” of indicators to monitor your current situation.
7. Check your support
Do you have a support network in place to guide you? A strong coach, friends, colleagues, a sympathetic ear, an accountability Power Circle, a mentor, an advisory board? Are you using them?
8. Check your self-care
Confidence is your ability to feel good about yourself in any situation. Are you taking care of yourself? Are you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually active? Are you feeding your body high-grade fuel instead of junk food?
9. Check your actions
Are you stuck in analysis paralysis, or are you taking action? What one heartbeat (“baby-step”) will you take today that will successful bring you one small step closer to the result that you want?
10. Check your clarity, again
If the answers to all of the above are positive, and you still feel anxious, check again: WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT?
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This is an updated version of an article I originally wrote back in 2004
Image Credit: Nacmias Auto on Flickr. Direct link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nacmiasmobil/3660893908 Used under Creative Commons Licence http://www.flickr.com/photos/nacmiasmobil/ / CC BY-ND 2.0