Dealing with anxiety: How to stop feeling overwhelmed

12 Comments

Are you guys tired of people blowing smoke up our generation’s asses and not telling us the truth?

  • LIE #1: Parents telling their kids that they can be anything they want (even kids who never built the discipline to finish their homework)

  • LIE #2: TV “experts” — and even the government! — telling us that buying a house is the best investment

  • LIE #3: Our friends telling us to “be yourself” and women will be attracted to you — totally neglecting the part about improving yourself so you’re attracting the right people. (Same for women’s relationship advice)

Your Surrogate Asian Father will never lie to you. You might not like what I have to say, and I might make you uncomfortable enough to unsubscribe (which is fine with me). But I’ll always tell you the truth.

Yesterday, I got over 1,000 emails from people who wanted to ask me about their deepest problems during Ramit’s Therapy Week. You know what’s interesting?

A lot of people told me about their anxiety and how they were dealing with it — ‘I can’t follow through, I don’t know how to deal with my unsupportive family, I think I’m incapable of starting something new since I’m so afraid of failure’ — and I answered a lot of them by email.

But a lot of people CLEARLY knew what their problem was. They obviously think about it every day, and they’re quite adept at knowing exactly what’s holding them back. So I wrote back with 8 words:

“So what? What are you going to do?”

90% of them never wrote back.

HEY YOU WEIRDOS. ADMITTING YOUR PROBLEM IS NOT ENOUGH. THAT’S THE EASY PART. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?

You sitting there and saying, “I’m really afraid and anxious about life” isn’t shit. Anyone can admit their problem. That’s the BEGINNING of the process. It takes real work to actually start fixing it.

For example, notice this: You’ll never hear a top performer say they’re “overwhelmed”.

Someone using that word is effectively raising their hand and saying “I’m not a top performer and I’m probably not going to do the thing I’m complaining about.”

Like anyone, top performers get overwhelmed. But if you listen closely to how they describe their challenges, they always add something to the end of their sentence: “Yeah, I’m swamped right now, and it’s overwhelming… but I started waking up 30 minutes earlier so I can answer emails before my family wakes up.”

In other words, IT’S NOT ENOUGH TO JUST ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR PROBLEM. You have to DO something about it.

The good news is, you can change the way you think about yourself. If you’re a chronic “non-finisher,” I can show you how to change that. Just imagine how it would feel to stop calling yourself “lazy” or “unmotivated” and to know that when you say you’re going to do something, you’ll actually do it.

Today is Day 3 of Therapy Week with your Unemotional, Gruff, Yet Secretly Caring Surrogate Asian Father, Ramit.

“I get super passionate about something… and then after a couple of days I don’t really care anymore”

wedemailblog

If too many to-dos and too many options are giving you anxiety attacks, follow Ramit’s Rules of Letting Go:

Let go of “should do”s that you don’t actually care about:

In the scheme of all the things you want to do, do you really care about this? When I went to my cousin’s wedding in India a few years ago, I saw one of my friends order his food in fluent Hindi, and I thought, “Hmm…I should take Hindi lessons.” But when I got back to NYC, I put it on my to-do list, only to skip over it for months. The truth is, I really didn’t care enough to do anything. It wasn’t important enough. When I acknowledged I wasn’t going to do it and crossed it off my list, I could focus on doing the things I wanted to do.

Let go of feeling guilty:

STOP LYING TO YOURSELF! Do you really care about learning how to kiteboard? Or is it just because that random guy you met told you how fun it was, and you said, “Yeah, I need to do that”? Life is short. It’s OK to use this exact script: “That sounds really interesting, but I’ve decided not to tackle that right now so I can focus on a couple other things I want to do this year.” Nobody is making you feel guilty except YOU. We realistically have the time to learn maybe three new major things per year. Do you really want this to be one of them?

Let go of waiting for inspiration to strike:

Inspiration is for amateurs. I wake up every morning, rain or shine, feeling great or sore, and I get to work. Not because I’m a machine, or a better person than anyone, but because I have systems that I depend on — not willpower or inspiration.

The emailer above, Cristina, says she wants to find a new job. Really? Let’s see how she describes her job hunt: “I was in ‘I hate my job’ mood, so I applied…”

Her own language betrays her. Depending on a “mood” or “inspiration” is what dilettantes, unemployed Brooklyn writers, and unprofitable life coaches (redundant?) do.

Waiting for inspiration to strike is a quick way to randomly pursue something, then give up, only to yo-yo back a couple weeks later, eventually leading you to hate yourself. Trust me, I have enough hate for all of you. I really don’t need you to hate yourself.

Instead of depending on fleeting motivation, build a SYSTEM. This means you work through the steps of finding a new job, add it to your calendar every week, and make sure you have the time and mental energy (which are much easier once you know what to do). If Cristina were serious, she would know that I cover all of this in my Dream Job program.

Here’s an example of a system:

 

calendarsystem

Look at this one:

tinycalendaritem

This is a random to-do that I would normally put in the back of my head…and it would never get done. Instead, I added it to my calendar so it always gets done. Advanced tip: You can set up weekly, monthly, and quarterly “to-dos” for things like reviewing your systems, planning an annual negotiation, or even checking in on your relationship.

These are some of the tactics you can use to conquer anxiety, overwhelm, laziness and procrastination. But they barely scratch the surface of the full arsenal of tools I use.

*     *     *

If you want to see the full system I use to follow through — including the deeper, psychological strategies — I’m opening a course tomorrow called The Finisher’s Formula. [UPDATE - It's too late to get in on this round of the Finisher's Formula, but sign up for the waitlist below.]

This course will only be open for 36 hours, then I’ll close it at 11:59pm Pacific on Friday. Why? Because people who take action tend to do it quickly…while others wait around.

Not for this course. I don’t want stragglers or people who can’t make a decision.

The only way to hear more about Finisher’s Formula is to sign up for my Insider’s List, where I’ll send you information about it over email.

Sign up here:

Sign up here for the waitlist for the Finisher’s Formula

.

P.S. You know how I normally ask you to comment with your response to a question? I don’t want you to comment today.

I want you to sit quietly for 30 seconds and think about what it would mean to actually FINISH what you start. To know that you could commit to things and TRUST yourself to follow through. How would it feel? What would it mean to your life? Think about it — and then sign up for the Insider’s List above and I’ll add you to the Finisher’s Formula waitlist. You’ll be the first to hear about it when I open the course for enrollment in the future.

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12 Comments

 
  1. What about times when you set up the system (like you did in the article with a calendar) but then ignore it. I have calendar items and phone alerts, and I just ignore them.

  2. Ramit,

    Over\under on the number of people that will post their email address requesting more information about Finisher’s Formula?

  3. “Trust me, I have enough hate for all of you”. Ramit, you are hilarious and keep too real. I feel some of your frustration comes from some of us overcomplicating things when it could be a lot more simple. I get mad at myself when I start to do that. I have gotten mad at my job before and went into “I’ll show them, I’m getting a new job” mode, but the truth is they could honestly not give an eff if I go. They would just replace and keep it moving . Annnd these mofos have blocked access to iwillteachyoutoberich.com. Somebody’s ass doesn’t want me to be rich I see. Anyway, I’m about to a single mom to a baby girl in 3 wks or less. My whole focus is changing. Thank you for the hate and tough love, Ramit.

  4. Ramit,

    I think you’re right— we LIE to ourselves too often. We’ve got so many things on our lists, that we’ll NEVER get to them. Instead of just trimming the fat and moving on, it ends up weighing us down with undue guilt & overwhelm.

    Robb

  5. Just the other day I said I was going to write a blog. Wrote a few small intro posts, and haven’t done anything since. I’m going to add it into Gneo (my to do app), and make it an important activity to do once a week for an hour, probably by waking up earlier.

    • I find that getting up early to write blog posts is the best technique for making it happen (if you leave it for ‘sometime’ during the day, other work will take priority). Start with just once a week – say Wed – and block out 5.30-6.30am (putting a time limit on it helps me write faster and with greater clarity). You could even give yourself a head start (and mentally psyche yourself up/commit to the early start) by doing the post outline before you go to bed the night before. When the alarm goes at 5.30 you’ll be ready to jump right in.

    • Thanks for the reply Cam. I was getting up early to go to the gym, but have decided to change that (gym is way too busy), so instead of my routine being wake, coffee, gym, it’ll be wake, coffee, write. I’m only writing short posts, quick thoughts, and have about 20 topics to write about already done, so I’m well on my way. I’m trying to get enough posts together so if something goes badly wrong, I have posts to cover me.

  6. Ramit, I’m interested in knowing what the sales of each of your
    books are at.

  7. Love the point about letting of the should you don’t really want to do. Just because I should work out in the morning doesn’t mean that I’m going to do that. I’m glad to be at a place where I’m able to be honest about what I want and don’t want to do.

  8. Whoever finds this post resonates with what they are looking to accomplish, this video has been one of the most impactful ones on my psychology to-date: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ImIuAvkUMo

  9. Ramit,

    How about LIE #4: Parents and the educational system telling their kids to ‘go to college and get a degree so you can get a great job earning lots of money and retire from said job and be secure in your old age’.

    Also–It never occurred to me that “checking in on your relationship” should or could be something scheduled–what a great idea. Its easy to take relationships for granted; I’ll start scheduling relationship maintenance from now on. Thanks, Ramit!