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Tempted to Worry? Try Making Concrete Plans Instead

Worrying is a terrible business strategy.

In the not-so-distant past, however, it was the only one I knew.

For example, each time I wrote this column, I worried that my editor would say, “Sorry, Carl. This just isn’t very good. I’m afraid that’s the end of the Sketch Guy.”

Inevitably, of course, I would bring my worries to my business partner (a.k.a. my wife).

I would go on and on about “What if….” And when she seemed totally calm, I would say, “Aren’t you worried?!”

Because she’s generally unflappable, she would simply say, “I could be worried, if you want me to be. But I don’t see how it would help.”

It might feel like worrying helps.

But as Shantideva is said to have noted,

“If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying?

If you cannot solve it, then what is the use of worrying?”

I took my wife’s advice, and instead of constant worry, I now try to do something more productive.

I make plans.

“If the Times cancels my column, do X.”

“If the book sells zero copies, do Y.”

“If the house spontaneously combusts, do Z.”

And then I take Plans X, Y and Z, place them in the file cabinet and stop thinking about them.

That’s it. I don’t need to worry about those scenarios anymore because I have a plan.

Action is a business strategy. Worry is not. So make a plan, put it away for safekeeping and get back to work.

Editors note: This article was originally published a number of years ago and has been republished for the benefit of our many new readers.

About Carl Richards
Carl Richards is a Certified Financial Planner and a columnist for the New York Times, Morningstar magazine and Yahoo Finance. He is author of 2 books, The Behavior Gap & The One-Page Financial Plan. Carl lives with his family in Park City, Utah. You can find his work and sign up for his newsletter (which has an international audience) at www.behaviorgap.com/

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