Throughout the year, I'll be testing various attitudes, behaviours, et cetera, to see if they make my life more awesome.
Worry is something that drives me nuts in other people, and as is the case so often, it does so because I recognize it as something I don't like about myself. I am a worrier, nervous by disposition, prone to panic at the earliest provocation. Or at least I am in my head. I tend to internalize a lot. (Possibly another thing I need to work on, but that's for another time.)
Worrying is useless. Caution is useful: it prevents you from making mistakes. Preventative actions and decisive actions are useful: they prevent negative outcomes. But worrying is just empty mind-space. Will something bad happen? Possibly. Will the likelihood of it change through the act of worrying? No.
I once worked with a very laconic joker of a guy, who also happened to have been a civil engineering student. One day the office started shaking. I immediately looked at him, assuming he was playing a practical joke that I hadn't quite worked out. He, in turn, was quietly but intently headed to the safest place in the office, underneath a support beam, as he knew what was going on: we were in an earthquake.
There was something about that quiet efficiency that always struck me: after all, few are more aware of the potential catastrophe of an earthquake than a civil engineer. And yet here he was, not screaming, not fretting, not worrying: just doing what was necessary to avoid the most non-awesome possible outcomes.
(Again: I can't speak for what he was doing on the inside. But the outside is what I saw.)
Conversely, I have worked with many worriers, and been one myself in many other situations. I'm pretty sure it's never done any good in and of itself. (I encourage anyone with counterexamples to mention them.) On one show I worked on, I spent months worrying that our team wouldn't make a deadline. Then it became clear to everyone else that we wouldn't make the deadline. Then everyone else panicked. My worry clearly did nothing to prevent the problem. If I worried less in general, would sternly worded caution have helped to prevent the outcome? Don't know, but when the guy who doesn't worry speaks up, people listen; when the guy who worries speaks up, he's just being a pain in the ass again.
Or such is my experience, anyway.
So going forward, I am consciously attempting to short-circuit my emotional "worry" reaction whenever possible, through a combination of preventative actions and emotional channeling. These are phrases I just made up, so they probably deserve clarification.
As to the former: yesterday, I flew back to Dunedin. An hour before I left, I started packing, calmly, to music. There was more I would have liked to do in Auckland, and I could have possibly done more, but then it would have been a mad rush, and I would have started worrying about missing the plane. By not setting myself up for an impossible situation, I didn't have to worry about getting out on time.
As to the latter: I did some maths on the way to the airport, looking at the time, and realized I could possibly miss the luggage boarding time. I kept thinking three things:
1. The bag will get there eventually, one way or another.
2. Nothing you can do will change this.
3. You're driving around with friends on a glorious day listening to SINGLES GOING STEADY by The Buzzcocks. Be here. Enjoy this.
And then I booked like hell when I got out of the car, and got my bag on the plane with 2 minutes to spare.
No worries. It's been easy so far this year. Now that I'm back to work, hopefully I can maintain it. I am confident I will have greater things to worry about through the year; I strive to be equally confident that I will choose not to worry about them.