I wasn’t diagnosed with anxiety until I was 28 years old.
My entire life, I’d lived with the constant weight of the world on my shoulders.
As kid, I wouldn’t play on Sundays because I was too worried about having to go to school on Mondays.
In college, I didn’t speak up in class or go out to parties because I was worried about saying or doing the wrong thing.
Until I was diagnosed, I hadn’t realized that constant worry wasn’t typical and that everyone didn’t live under that same burden.
But, becoming aware of my anxiety and being able to categorize it was only the beginning of my journey. My doctor prescribed an anti-anxiety medication, and within a month the weight was lifted.
I slept better. I performed better in social and professional situations.
Without all that incessant chatter and worry in my head, for the first time, I was clear to ask “why?”
- Why did public speaking stress me out?
- Why didn’t I want kids one day?
- Why was I running a 5K? Did I really like running? Did I just feel like I had to do it because all of my friends were?
Suddenly, I was looking at the world and my choices in life through a whole new lens.
I was no longer allowing my anxiety to control my life and decisions.
Rather, I was realizing what I loved to do — and what I didn’t.
And, over the next few years, I continued a process of self-discovery and creating a life I truly loved. One that didn’t include running or an executive title but did include kids and entrepreneurship.
Ask yourself “Why?”
Why do you want to be a doctor? Is it because your parents always told you that’s what you should do? Or, is it because it’s what YOU genuinely want to do?
When we struggle with anxiety, we spend so much time worrying about HOW we’re going to get to an outcome, what could go wrong, and what we’ll do if it does, that we sometimes forget to ask ourselves if we even want that outcome to begin with.
As we learn to manage our anxiety and the worry subsides, we can wake up realizing we’ve created an entire life that we thought we were "supposed to" have--and not one that we truly desire.
Ironic, isn’t it? That we could spend so much time worrying about how to reach our end goal, only to realize we don’t want it anyway.
Next, ask yourself, “What do I really want?”
Of course, that question isn’t always easy to answer. Many times, we’re figuring out what we want by a process of elimination. Even if we haven’t figured it out yet, we can say confidently what we don’t want.
And, there’s nothing wrong with that.
By being honest with ourselves about what we don’t like or enjoy, we get closer to being open and available to finding the things we do really want.
Now, try not to limit yourself here. One of the gifts of my anxiety is the ability to see all the obstacles that stand between me and my goals. But, at times, it’s also been a huge detriment to achieving my goals.
For instance, when I recognized that I wanted to start my own business, I knew every-single-thing I needed to do and every skill I didn’t have yet. It would take years to build up the savings, skills, and knowledge to be able to pursue entrepreneurship full-time. That can be very overwhelming for anyone but especially someone suffering from anxiety.
So, I took a deep breath, appreciated my gift for seeing every step of the process, and got to work on what I really wanted.
Create a step-by-step plan
To stop that overwhelm in its tracks, I created a plan of action for reaching my goal of entrepreneurship. Creating a step-by-step plan will enable you to focus on achieving your goals without becoming overwhelmed by the enormity of your long-term goals.
Just take it 1-3 tasks at a time. And, be proud that you’re continuously taking small steps toward a life you’ll truly love.
There it is. In three simple steps, how I leveraged my diagnosis to create a peaceful, healthy, happy life that I adore! I wish you all the best on your process of self-discovery and creating your beautiful life!
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