The worry we experience is never driven by external factors. It’s taken me a long time to truly understand this.
As tempting as it might be to blame the situation, the weather or someone else, what’s going on externally is never truly the culprit of what’s going on inside. Outside factors may contribute, but they’re never the main source of the angst.
I used to think my unhappiness and stress were solely driven from my full-time job in finance. While my disinterest in the field certainly didn’t help, working in finance wasn’t the main reason for my stress.
Really, the issue was within me.
Something was still missing—even after stripping away everything that didn’t bring me joy over the past two years, including quitting my job and a couple extracurricular activities.
Sure I was less stressed from my external environment, but the internal triggers were still there.
While there were more minimal frustrations in my day, I was still suffering from worry and unproductive thinking. I was still causing myself stress.
It’s been a difficult process to work through the internal triggers while figuring out the external components of what’s next. Improvement on my internal equilibrium has been slow and gradual.
My internal state suffered greatly in the beginning of 2015 when I was exploring full-time and part-time gigs. As my husband and I embrace our lives both as freelancers this year, it’s been another struggle. But 2015 was in many ways better than 2014, and 2016 has been generally better than 2015 even with the greater uncertainty.
I have more work to do when it comes to enjoying the journey while still very much figuring it out. I’m learning that one of the major ways to better enjoy the work-in-process is to get a better handle on worrying.
The damaging effects of worry are immense.
Worry contributes to a myriad of health issues, diseases and nervous system breakdowns. I’ve experienced my share of it back when I was working long hours in finance and not taking care of myself. There’s more risk for me in the future if I don’t get a better handle over the uncertainty of freelancing.
Everyone has worries. We have very little control over many things in our lives.
I’m worried about the short-term situation of staying afloat financially while we build up our freelancing services and businesses. About whether we’re doing the right thing. I worry about how we’re not adding to our savings. I worry about whether or not any of our projects will pan out.
And even as I worry, I know it’s a complete waste of time.
I’ve recently realized just how much I’ve been impacted by unnecessary worry in past years. It’s a force that quadruples in strength as it proceeds.
Worry inhibits progress.
It sucks all the energy and clarity of mind from you until you’re incapacitated, helpless, without the will to do anything. Your resolve dwindles, your attention scatters. You’re overwhelmed, and tempted by procrastination or distractions to try to escape it all.
The more worry impacts you, the more you tend to worry.
Worry is a habit, just like everything else you do in life.
When you’re extremely worried, it sucks energy from you so that you’re not able to make as much progress. The lack of progress makes you feel even more worried, and it’s often a continuous downwards spiral.
To illustrate through an example, I had goals on getting more certification in the past month that I haven’t completed yet. It makes me feel horrible, the fact that my progress has been slower than planned. My slower progress is driving additional self-criticism and worry, which is incredibly self-defeating.
I know the answer is in being at peace with what you have right now.
I’m learning to let go of these unhelpful worry spirals. I’m learning how to ignore them and keep moving forward.
As much as I’d like to believe, more external results are not the answer. More freelance business isn’t the answer. A full-time or part-time gig—something I’ve been contemplating again recently—isn’t the answer either. If you haven’t conquered worry, you’ll simply shift the worry onto the next unknown or stressor.
The answer is embracing the perpetual incompleteness and accepting the messy and unfinished state. It’s necessary to keep positive so you don’t succumb to the damaging effects of worry. The truth is simple, yet so difficult in daily execution. That sure seems to be the case with a lot of things in life.