Where Anxiety Comes From

Your timelines are too short.

This morning, as I was processing through the next 6-24 months of my professional & personal life, something profound hit me. 

Fear is (mostly) a byproduct of your timelines being too short.

Let’s think about it this way. 

If money is tight, the economy is rough, and you’re worried about your business making it through the storm, this is all ample reason for some worry & anxiety. This indicates a time horizon of maybe 1, 2, or 3 years. 

Anxiety is going to come from trying to avoid negative situations in the short term. But the body rarely deploys anxiety onto long term problems. Why is that? 

Because anxiety is a symptom of short term thinking.

Let’s take the example above and extend the runway. 

You know that you will die in 50, 60, or maybe 70 years. In your final 3 hours of life, you will be surrounded by people that matter to you. You’ll talk about the times, the memories, the lessons; or maybe you’ll just sit and hold hands, enjoying the last few moments. 

I don’t think you’re going to give a sh*t about what the economy was doing in 2023. 

This is not an excuse to bury your head in the sand. I don’t advise going broke on the basis of “Well one day I won’t care about it.” That might be true but it isn’t exactly useful…

The key is knowing how to switch into long term thinking when you need to get your nerves under control. A method that can be used when you’re stuck in short term thinking is the idea of fear-swapping.

Swap a low-utility fear for a high-utility one. 

Carrying on with the same example from earlier: is it better to be afraid of the economy? Or is it higher yield to fear living complacently until you’re too old to do anything about it? 

MANY times, if you re-orient around the long term, you will be more afraid of not going for it than you will “what happens if I fail?” 

In the final hours of your life, you will regret not jumping because “what if you would’ve made it?” is a superior question to “why did I not even try?” 

A well constructed mental roadmap will keep you poised and in-balance. No one wins when you throw all caution to the wind all the time. The point is not to pendulum swing. The point is, not everything in life is about building safety & security… the big moments are going to come at the tail end of risk. Sometimes you win, sometimes learn.

Fear is an always an unworthy mentor.

Go for it.


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