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The One Reason You Can’t Get Anything Done at Work

November 8, 2015, 4:00 PM UTC
Stressed businessman
Photograph by Getty Images

MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for:What’s your biggest worry and how are you dealing with it? is written by Jan Bruce, CEO and co-founder of meQuilibrium.

My biggest worry happens to be worry itself. The effect worrying has on an individual is a scary prospect. Worrying has the power to cloud one’s judgment and often leads to a waterfall of other uncertainties. Compared to those who tend to be worry-free, those who worry often are 25% less engaged at work — worrying matters. There will always be situations in life that cause worry — whether it’s about your performance at work, making enough time for your family, or paying monthly bills – but learning how to manage these feelings it is a must-have skill. Here are some tactics I use to dampen worry and thrive in challenging situations.

Rewrite your thoughts
I sometimes find myself worrying that I am going to be late, and in turn worrying that the people I am supposed to be meeting will be upset with my tardiness. No good can come from worrying, especially about things you can’t control. So when I feel myself on the edge of a worry waterfall, I take a second to refocus my thoughts. Nothing will change the fact that I’ll be late, but what I can control is how I will apologize and move forward. The great thing is that anyone can rewrite their thoughts; all it takes is practice.

See also: Why millennials have little interest in pursuing government jobs

Revaluate your expectations
Sometimes worrying for a certain kind of outcome bleeds into an outright expectation: you ought to be perfect. Lowering expectations doesn’t mean I settle for an unhappy or stressful experience. Rather, I get real about what I can expect and are aware of my boundaries.

Think of life as a marathon, not a sprint
I’ve found two ways to hit the brakes. First, when I feel a sense of worry coming on, I stop and write down three good things that have happened in the last day or so. Redirecting my thoughts for just a minute breaks the spell and helps me tap into positive energy. Second, I look at the next month as a series of peaks and valleys: When are the busy moments? When will I need to sprint? And when can I slow down and soak in the fun stuff? Your ability to cope with whatever life throws at you depends largely on how you choose to respond, which is why I’ve chosen to not let worrying dictate my responses.

Read all responses to the MPW Insider question: What’s your biggest worry and how are you dealing with it?

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3 signs you’re working for a company that truly values its employees by Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn.

How CST Brands’ Kim Lubel is dealing with her biggest fear by Kim Lubel, CEO, chairman and president of CST Brands.

This is how top leaders in business overcome their fears by Sandra Peterson, group worldwide chairman at Johnson & Johnson.

How this company is appealing to millennials by Kathy Murphy, president of personal investing at Fidelity.

Why this CEO wants employees to speak up to leaders by Jane Fraser, CEO of Citigroup Latin America.