Ever lay in bed at night unable to fall asleep because your mind was racing thinking about all the things you must do and don’t know how you are going to find the time, energy, or resources to do them? Your heart starts racing, you break out into a sweat and the insomnia sets in as your thoughts start playing on an endless maddening loop in your mind. Or have you ever been at work unable to focus on the task at hand because your mind is consumed with the thoughts of what you have on your to-do list tomorrow, next week, next month, next year?
Do you get hung up on stressful thoughts about the future? Do you create analysis paralysis, over-thinking every thought, feeling, action and potential result? Do you try to imagine every possible worst-case scenario in hopes of having a solution to a problem that has not even actually happened yet?
Have you ever been described as a worrywart, nervous Nellie, handwringer, nervous wreck, brooder, or fussbudget? Then you are suffering from future tripping.
Too much worry or fear about the future is called future tripping, otherwise known as anticipatory anxiety, and it is one of the most frequent mental constructs people create that gets them stuck in life.
Thinking about the future is completely normal and even necessary to plan and accomplish life goals, but people who experience anxiety or trauma often only imagine negative or pessimistic outcomes. They can’t conceive of a positive future and exhaust themselves trying to think of every terrible possibility in hopes of preventing them from happening.
When someone focuses on only the potential for bad to happen, they can become incapacitated, unable to make decisions and create meaningful change. The fear of the unknown and lack of trust and faith in their ability to create a positive outcome hinders their growth.
The truth… nobody can ever predict or mitigate risks with 100 percent certainty. But if someone isn’t even willing to try something new to change, then they have failed no matter what. We first need to understand that failure is not necessarily bad, in fact, failure is how we humans learn and grow.
When we choose not to put ourselves out into the world for fear of failure, we stymie our potential to evolve.
What if instead we take a chance, do something that scares us, is hard and pushes us outside our comfort zone? That my friends, creates forward movement, builds our confidence, generates momentum, builds motivation, and establishes true grit and resilience.
But how? How do we get out of our analysis paralysis and start making things happen?
- Focus on the here and now. When we start working in the present moment and focusing on the reality of our situations now, not worrying about what might happen, we can take actionable steps to solve problems.
- Break it down into small actionable steps. I call this baby stepping. You take your overall goal and break it down into small bite sized pieces that won’t overwhelm you. Each small, accomplished step builds on the next and will lead to dramatic massive change. This is also known as the compound effect. Like interest in a financial investment, each small win builds and accumulates to create a much bigger gain.
- Keep it simple, period. Humans love to overcomplicate shit. We take something that could be so incredibly easy and make a mountain out of a molehill. Get back to basics. Cut out all the extras in your life. Create boundaries and hold yourself accountable to them. Simple, but not always easy. This requires commitment and support to get you where you want to go.
Imagine for a minute what your life would look like if you stopped getting stuck and started making decisions that moved you toward your big life dreams. What kind of future could you have if you took control of your thoughts and stopped letting your mind take control over you? Maybe you would finally ask for that promotion. Or maybe you would decide to go back to school to learn a completely new profession.
What if you jumped feet first into taking control of your health in order to feel good in your own skin. How about modeling behaviors and setting a better example for your kids, spouse, family or and friends.
What if you decided to finally say enough is enough and stopped living in an environment that was toxic to your mental health and wellness. What if you broke free, traveled, joined that gym, art class, whatever your heart has desired but fear was holding you back from?
What if you started to really experience life to its fullest? Get the satisfaction of putting yourself out there. Learned to do hard things. Gain confidence, self-esteem and motivation to keep trying new things. What if you said fuck fear? What if?