#2 You Are Too Future-Focused
“We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.” — Seneca
When your thinking is too focused on the future, you create the breeding ground for anxiety to show up.
There’s nothing wrong with forecasting how something may turn out, but when your awareness is constantly living in the future, you create a dangerous energy leak. You imagine the nastiest potential outcome of a situation, but you bring it into the present moment and start living it as if it is reality.
Let’s say your phone rings, and it’s your boss. Your thoughts race to a worst-case scenario about why she’s calling. You imagine it must be because the presentation you gave was terrible. In less than a minute, you have convinced yourself she has lost confidence in you, and you are being fired. Now you are panicking because your house loan has just been approved, and you are wondering how you will pay for it? I could go on.
Naturally, the phone call is to ask you something completely unrelated or even compliment you on the splendid work you did.
Once off, this is a harmless assumption but multiply this throughout the day, and your energy tank is in reserve, and it’s not even lunchtime. You also make assumptions about why someone didn’t respond to your mail or why you haven’t heard about a contract you pitched for.
Realize this pattern to interrupt it by keeping your awareness in the present moment. When you imagine the worst-case scenario, ask yourself what could be an alternative possibility?
Perhaps the person was busy, or they had a family issue. Maybe there was a power failure and they haven’t even downloaded your email yet.
Remember, everyone is living a story you know nothing about. In the absence of accurate information, avoid forming your false conclusions and assume positive intent.
#3 You Place Too Much Emphasis On The Outcome
This energy leak is a hybrid of procrastination and being too future-focused, which becomes a dangerous combination.
If working on the client presentation, you attach a story to it. For example, a standard client pitch becomes the story about how your entire career will be linked to this pitch’s success.
When I delivered my TEDx talk in 2018, I had placed the entire future of my speaking career on one fourteen-minute talk. I had built this up in my mind so much I was terrified of it. I was so fearful about wasting the opportunity and what will happen if I don’t deliver it perfectly.
My husband asked me how I would feel if someone asked me to give one of my corporate clients a fourteen-minute talk. I told him I wouldn’t think twice about it. He pointed out this was just another talk. It horrified me to compare a TEDx talk to a regular corporate talk. In reality, the process is identical. I had magnified the story about the outcome.
Realize such energy leaks because it’s detrimental to your productivity and mental health.
How can you plug the leak?
Change your mindset from perfection to contribution.
If you need to present in a team meeting, focus on the value you can deliver to the team. What information can you share that will be meaningful? Remind yourself you were asked to present this information because you are the subject expert.
You’re still nervous, but it eases the pressure to be perfect. Focus on being a contributor rather than obsess about forgetting a particular fact. No one knows what is meant to be in the presentation except you.