The Math of Worrying

Think about how much time you spend fretting about what might happen.  Those deer-in-the-headlights moments are not only agonizing but they are profoundly unproductive. With each minute you spend in a state of worry, you’re robbing yourself of the opportunity to contribute to your own success and the world around you.

The funny thing about worrying is that the vast majority of concerns never materialize. Stewing about what might happen if a client changes her mind was wasted time when in the end, the client does no such thing. Worrying about a disease that never emerges or being scolded by a boss who ends up giving a compliment is absolutely wasteful. Watching the Kardashians would be more productive.

Only a small percentage of most people’s concerns actually come true. The majority of worry-time could be redeployed into something –anything – far more effective. You’ll stress less, and end up having more resources available when a setback actually occurs. Let’s look at the math:

If a typical person worries for a total of three hours per week, this adds up to 156 hours per year of immobilizing anxiety.  Now let’s say 5% of the worries actually come true. That means that 148 hours were utterly wasted worrying about stuff that never ends up happening.

What if you recaptured the entire 156 hours and spent your days full of energy and free of anxiety? In addition to enjoying life more, you can use that time to create art, learn a new language, get in shape, read a book, play with your kids, counsel a friend, or help your community. Instead of the depleting act of wallowing in fear, you can be making an impact and advance your life.

But what about the negative things that do end up happening? Even if you carve out 30 hours to deal with the fallout of setbacks once they occur (instead of biting your nails in advance), you still end up with a gift of over 120 hours to pursue your calling.

It’s time to let go of the worry-demon and embrace the new abundance of time and energy that will come as a result of releasing this burden. Break free from the shackles of useless anxiety and sprint toward the activities that will drive the most progress in your life. You get to choose what you think about, so you might as well instruct your mind to think positively and release those unproductive concerns.

Crunch the numbers and you’ll be well on your way to seizing your full potential. This kind of math sure beats long division, no?