“To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time.” ―Leonard Bernstein
When doing creative work, the greatest stress often comes not from the work itself but from the weight of all that’s left to do.
Pause for a minute. Think about whatever is stressing you out the most at the moment. While I don’t know exactly what you do for a living, I can almost guarantee that your answer has something to do with an uncertainty that has yet to be resolved.
It could be a project that you need a great idea for.
It could be a relationship that is strained, and where you don’t know the right path forward.
It could be a career move that you feel compelled to make but don’t yet have a clear direction.
Whatever it is, I suspect that it has less to do with the stress of doing the work than it does with the weight of all that’s left undone.
The problem is, you can’t control that unresolved uncertainty. You don’t know when the ideas are going to come, and you can’t force them even if you wanted. Thus, the stress.
Make a list of all of the things that are stressing you. Then, star the ones that you can actually do something about. Then, put time on your calendar to actually make progress. The best antidote to the weight of all that’s undone is to plan for when it will get done.
And for those things you can’t control, resolve not to stress about them but to instead be patient, look for dots to connect, and commit to act when an insight emerges. Don’t stress about what you can’t control.
Question: Are you stressed about things you can do something about, or things that are outside of your control?