Whenever I’m in a tough situation, it has become my habit to ask “what’s the worst thing that can happen?”
Let’s say I got delayed on a project. What’s the worst that can happen? I get fired. Then what? I will still be alive by then, I could find another job. I also know that I’ve minimized my risks enough that I could live the same lifestyle for a few months without any income. There isn’t really something to be anxious about.
I read that the fear we feel didn’t evolve as human’s circumstances improved. The fear we feel getting fired is irrationally similar to being in a life-and-death situation.
Fear’s primary purpose is to keep us from things that threatens our lives. If it’s something that can cause irreversible consequences (total disability, jail, death), sure it makes sense to be afraid. But if it’s not, fear just becomes a hindrance to think of solutions. So how do I lessen it?
Acknowledge the worst outcome
Explicitly acknowledging what’s the worst that can happen makes myself realize that hey I ain’t gonna die. I can move on to thinking how I can actually rectify my situation. A significant amount of mistakes can be corrected.
For a delayed project, most people just want to be updated. Sharing what’s the cause of the delay and how I plan to stay on track is a very good first step to do.
I don’t have control on how they will react. But regardless if they understood my situation or the worst actually happened, I’m prepared. The important thing is I was not paralyzed by fear, I started moving again.