If you struggle with anxiety, you’re very likely going to work in a way that’s built around trying to avoid anxiety. So you’ll do things like:

  • Not delegate or let other people handle things for you.
  • Try to fix problems alone before anybody finds out.
  • Avoid leading because you’re worried about things going wrong.
  • Avoid leading because you like to correct others.
  • Avoid leading because you think you’re not good enough, or people will think you don’t deserve it.
  • Create systems that clog up with checking.
  • Do everything reactively instead of proactively.
  • Procrastinate.
  • Blame others for everything that goes wrong because the only thing worse than things going wrong is getting blamed for it.
  • Work really, really hard on something you know isn’t going to work and keep telling people you’re just a victim of your boss’s dumb ideas.
  • Not talking to people because you just need to get work done!
  • Building your relationships at work around being busy. You’re a busy person!
  • Not asking questions so nobody will know you don’t know what’s going on.
  • Check and recheck emails to make sure you didn’t say something offensive, or something that makes you look incompetent, or something that’s going to get you fired.
  • Hope everyday that nobody finds out you’re not good enough to be doing your job.
  • Avoid asking for what you really want because you’re afraid you’ll get fired.
  • Hide your personality and your interests. What if people found out who you really are?!
  • Believe in a separation between work and life. There isn’t. Wherever you’re breathing, that’s your life.
  • Avoid doing things outside of your comfort zone even though they’ll help you do the job better or accomplish more. Tell people you’re just not that type of person. You have your own way of doing things!

And the list could go on.

Before recovering, work was just a way to fuel my anxiety disorder and make it worse. I would work tons of long days to avoid all sorts of uncertainties and that just stressed me out and made me sicker. Now I actually work much more and get much more done but I work totally differently. In the past, I worked only in reaction to fears. Now I work to create things. And that’s a significant difference.

The old way of working was all about trying to not let things happen in the future. The new way of working is all about trying to make things happen in the future. Being creative is just so much more fulfilling. Instead of trying to take things out of the future, try to put things into it.