I have spent the better part of my twenties worrying about things.
It seems like my worrying always involves the combination of some distant, uncertain time in the future, and “now”. That is, I become anxious thinking about what I am doing “now”, contrasted against what I imagine myself doing in the future.
So, how do I get over this?
I focus on habit building over perfection.
One of my favorite blogs out there is Seth Godin’s. I’m attributing this idea of habit building to him, although I couldn’t find the specific post (he posts like every day). I believe I first read this concept there.
What’s habit building?
Habit building is the idea that 99% of life is just showing up.
I’m interested in many things outside of work. I like to write here, study Chinese, get good physical exercise, etc. But oftentimes when I go about these things I begin to get caught up in the “loop thinking” that I mentioned above (present reality vs. future expectations).
Examples of Will’s loop thinking
- I want the blog to come off as very literary and sleek.
- I want to speak and read Chinese fluently.
When I have these kinds of expectations I get upset because it feels like the distance between today and the future is too long and I will never get there. This becomes self-destructive thinking and essentially sabotages my ability to concentrate on the task at hand.
The healthy response to this, for me, is to just focus on the habit. I don’t have to be the best. I just have to put in the time. If I do that, then I consider it a win. It’s my “99% of life is just showing up” rule.
This might mean that sometimes I write a crappy blog post, or that sometimes I study Chinese for only a short period of time. But because I make a conscious effort to build the habit, I always know that there will be another chance to improve. This let’s me relax and sink into the groove. If I can fall into the groove, well, then the rest is gravy.