Disarming My Anxiety
A proactive solution That is easy to implement
November 14, 2020
Some mornings, the weight of the upcoming day feels heavy. Before I even open my eyes, I can feel the list of everything that’s waiting for me. Each item is small and weighs just a single ounce. But as I lay in bed with my covers pulled up around my neck, I can feel these items banding together and climbing over each other — eager to apply their cumulative weight to my chest.
Despite being intangible, anxiety is one of the most palpable feelings I experience. It often stems from putting off a task or activity that I know I should be doing, but it’s not always that obvious. Some days I find myself frantically searching for what is causing my anxiety like I am playing hide and seek with an insidious toddler.
Like a child with a box of matches left alone in a house made of paper, he silently moves from room to room gleefully asking himself, “I wonder if this will burn?”
My One Thing
Navigating my anxiety is a slippery undertaking. Some days it’s as easy as checking the box and boom — I feel accomplished. Other days are a bit more frustrating. Especially when I’ve checked 10 boxes and still can’t put my finger on why I feel inadequate.
What I know for sure though, is that managing my anxiety is an entirely proactive endeavor. And that the best strategy I’ve found for banishing the heavy feeling of anxiety is to simply focus on my One Thing. This is the one task or project, that if I didn’t focus on immediately, would inevitably give me anxiety for the rest of the day.
Each morning, I schedule a 3-hour work block that is solely dedicated to focusing on my one thing. For me, this is working on the nonprofit I co-founded. Scheduling this time every single morning, allows me to quickly and easily enter a flow state of creativity and productivity. It also ensures that I start off each day feeling accomplished and successful.
My favorite part about this strategy is that once I have addressed my One Thing for the day, everything else I decide to work on feels like bonus productivity. Since I already completed what I wanted to get done, I can focus on other projects without feeling guilty. Best of all, it allows me to stop “shoulding” everywhere.
I’m sure you’ve “shoulded” yourself before. It happens to everyone from time to time and isn’t anything to be embarrassed about. “Shoulding” refers to being unable to focus on one task because your mind won’t stop telling you that you should be doing something else instead.
I thought of it…second
Focusing on my One Thing each morning has done wonders to reduce my anxiety. I am happy to report that I only have complete and utterly debilitating existential crises every two months or so now. This is a wonderful improvement from when I first quit my job and was imploding every three to four days. I’d say I’m doing pretty well for an amateur entrepreneur and writer.
This strategy was the byproduct of some coaching I recently received. I didn’t know it at the time, but it turns out that this simple solution is quite famous. To my mild disappointment, I found out that I was not the first to discover its effectiveness.
In his book The One Thing, Gary Keller explains that we should start each morning by asking ourselves:
What’s the one thing you can do today, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
By following the simple steps mentioned above, I am able to disarm my anxiety and face each day with a sense of accomplishment and pride.
I am still deciding on whether I am going to sue Mr. Keller for writing a book about MY idea years before I even thought of it, or if I am content with repeating the phrase “great minds think alike” to myself endlessly.
Regardless, I will continue to start each day focusing on my One Thing. By following the simple steps mentioned above, I am able to disarm my anxiety and face each day with a sense of accomplishment and pride.