Manage Your Anxiety for Career Success

Last Tuesday Cathy, my wonderful wife, had shoulder replacement surgery.  Needless to say it was an anxious time for both of us.  I’m happy to report that she came through the surgery like a champ.  Her rehabbing is ahead of schedule.

Ironically, on Thursday after I brought Cathy home, I found an email in my in box from my friend Sharon Melnick called “5 Tips to Think Positive When You Are Anxious.”  Both Cathy and I are pretty positive people by nature, but these tips would have been very helpful just prior to her surgery.   They are also some great life and career success advice.

Sharon has graciously allowed me to post them here…

5 Tips to ‘Think Positive’ When You Are Anxious

Sharon Melnick, Ph.D.

Do you ever have the experience where you are worried what is going to happen in the future? It’s not anything specific, or maybe it’s many specific challenges that are all adding up. You might even know your anxiety is ‘irrational’ but that doesn’t help!

Here are two approaches you can use to ‘think positive’ and get back into a state where you have ease and can concentrate. Use them yourself and use the share buttons on the right to tell others.

Focus on the Moment

Focus on the specific physical feeling you are having in your body, not on your thoughts. For example, say to yourself slowly, “I feel tension in my shoulders; I have a sinking feeling in my stomach.” Don’t focus on thoughts like, “What if I lose my job” or “I have so much to do”. Before 7 seconds have passed, you will notice a shift in the feeling in your body and breathing will come easier. Keep doing this a few times until the feeling of anxiety has passed.

Focus on what you CAN control in the moment. Your thoughts tend to run wild towards worst case scenarios and what you can’t control. Try to pinpoint something specific you are worried about, and determine specifically what worries you about the situation. Ask yourself, “What can I do right now to have more control over the outcome of this situation?” Action replaces fear.

Train your body to get rid of fear. Do this exercise: Bring together the tips of the thumb and index finger and bring your hands up so they are in front of your chest facing away from you. You will breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Each time you breathe out, forcefully push your hands away from you like you are pushing away something you don’t want and blow out through your mouth. Then breathe in through your nose and bring your hands back towards your chest, with your elbows by your side. Do this exercise for 1-3 minutes and you will train your body to get rid of fear.

Take yourself out of the moment – Sometimes over focusing on the moment keeps you stressed. Instead:

Project yourself into the future. Picture yourself in the distant future, when this particular moment is insignificant and you have worked out your current problems. This ‘future’ version of yourself has more perspective on your overall life than you do right now – ask it what the best way is to proceed in the current situation.

Use distraction. Make the distraction productive: connect with other people, go outside in a natural environment that is soothing for your senses, do a breathing exercise, listen to music or a motivating talk. Don’t just numb out with an unmemorable surfing session on the internet or putter around at your desk.  Probably the best distraction you can do is to be grateful for the problems that you have. Though it sounds trite, there are many people in the world whose problems are much worse than yours. I immediately think of a child I support in Africa barely living with running water, or a man I often see in the subway station who has no arms. It immediately gives me renewed appreciation for all that I have and then energizes me to do something with it. This works for a lot of people and may work for you too!

Here’s to you being positive when you are anxious!

The career success coach point here is simple common sense. Anxiety can derail your life and career success by hampering your ability to concentrate.  Sharon Melnick shared five tips with my friends at for staying positive when you are anxious — 1) Focus on the specific physical feeling you are having in your body; 2) Focus on what you CAN control in the moment; 3) Train your body to get rid of fear; 4) Project yourself into the future; and 5) Use distraction — provide some great career advice for staying focused and moving ahead toward the career success you want and deserve.  Follow this great career advice and you’ll be better able to take charge of your life and career success.

That’s the career advice I found in Sharon Melnick’s 5 tips for staying positive when you are anxious.  What do you think?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success.  I value you and I appreciate you.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, please download a free copy of my popular career advice book Success Tweets and its companion piece Success Tweets Explained.  The first gives you 140 bits of career success advice tweet style — in 140 characters or less.  The second is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

PPS: I opened a membership site on September 1.  It’s called My Corporate Climb and is devoted to helping people create career success inside large corporations.  To celebrate the grand opening, I’m giving away a new career advice book I’ve written called I Want YOU…To Succeed in Your Corporate Climb.  You can find out about the membership site and get the career advice in I Want YOU… for free by going to http://www.mycorporateclimb.


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