4 Questions to Reduce Worry

It's easy to convince ourselves the worst will occur, but four key questions can frequently alleviate concerns.  

The biggest presentation of the year is in two hours — and Megan hardly feels prepared.

She’s done her research and has memorized critical data, but she’s not confident in her delivery or that the message will resonate with her clients.

Her mind quickly spirals to the worst-case scenarios.

Her team may not get the business. She may not get the bonus that will allow her to pay for the big family vacation. She may get demoted altogether.

These types of fatalistic outlooks are extremely common for coaches, executives and teachers alike.

But on a recent episode of “The Learning Leader Show” with Ryan Hawk, businessman and best-selling author Matt Higgins highlighted four critical questions he uses to alleviate concerns and reduce his own catastrophizing impulses.

1. What’s the worst that’s going to happen if this doesn’t work out?

This isn’t about shifting our focus to doomsday but rather facing the fear head on.

The question is also about getting us to realize that the absolute worst-case scenario is frequently just built up in our heads and not nearly as bad or as likely to occur as it may seem from a distance.

2. If it doesn’t work out, what will I do to mitigate that I went all in?

To Higgins, this isn’t about having an etched-in-stone Plan B, but quickly considering how else we’ll obtain the essentials in our lives.

It’s easy after failure to get consumed with what went awry and lament our time spent. But what’s more important is weighing how we’re going to get on to the next phase while still taking care of our basic needs.

3. What is the probably that this bad event will occur?

So often, our doomsday scenario is simply built up in our heads and not especially likely to come to fruition. While it may sound basic, thinking about the actual probability — or lack thereof — of our fear playing out can help ease our minds and get us back on track.

4. What would I be willing to give up or suffer from to achieve my plan?

To Higgins, if our heart is absolutely set on something, we’ll be willing to do whatever it takes to achieve the vision — even if it means taking steps back to move forward.

A detailed, well-conceived strategy can typically survive some unexpected turbulence. Even if the plan doesn’t go according to script, the skills we exhibit in formulating it will likely serve us in our next phase.

The point is that we all face doubts and lack of confidence at various points.

But instead of drowning in the waves of hypotheticals, we can influence our mindsets by forming detailed strategies, reflecting on past experiences and considering probabilities.

What we fear may be a tidal wave so often turns out to be just a quick splash of water.