First, Take a Breath
Warren Buffett, who has billions of reasons to be worried, uses these six steps to free himself from worry and you can too.
We all know Warren Buffett is one of the most successful investors of all time. He has literally made billions of dollars through the savvy investments he’s made over the years through his firm Berkshire Hathaway. But with all that money at risk, it makes you wonder how Mr. Buffett could ever get any sleep: most of us would be worried sick.
Think about it. Mr. Buffett, for instance, has placed massive bets on the railroad industry. But what happens if a trail carrying some toxic waste derails? What will happen to his railroad stock? Similarly, what would happen to the significant investments he’s made in banks and financial services companies if another recession were to strike? It’s enough to drive you bonkers.
And yet, Mr. Buffett is as cool as a cucumber. Despite all that money on the line, he simply isn’t consumed with worrying about it. But why?
The answer is that he’s adopted the secrets of Dale Carnegie’s sometimes-overlooked gem of a book called “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living“. While Mr. Carnegie is probably better known for his other books about public speaking and gaining influence, Mr. Buffett has learned to adopt several of Mr. Carnegie’s tips for living a worry-free life.
- Isolate the Problem – The first key to preventing worries from overtaking your life is to create “day-tight” departments around the different areas in your life. Just like you can seal off a damaged or leaky section in a ship to prevent it from sinking, you need to isolate the different parts of your life- your business, your relationships, or your finances- so that they don’t spill into each other. Even if you’ve had a hard day at work, for example, you need to find a way to be the best dad you can be once you get home.
- Understand the Problem – If something has gone awry with some aspect of your life, don’t overreact to it before you get all the facts. It’s easy to fear the unknown, so make time to understand what’s caused the issue. The better you understand something, the less you’ll worry about it.
- Prepare to Accept the Worst – After you know what kind of issue you’re facing, figure out what the worst possible outcome could be resulting from it. Then make peace with it. If you can accept the worst-case scenario, then you’ve simply eliminated any reason to continue worrying about it.
- Make a Decision – Once you’ve accepted what the worst possible outcome of a situation could be, then you can actually start thinking about how you actually might create a better outcome. Weigh the facts you have available and make a decision about how you might do that. And rather than get stuck in some kind of worry vortex, where you become paralyzed because you feel like you don’t have enough information, make a decision once you feel like you’ve got 75% of what you need.
- Act – There’s an old saw that involves five frogs sitting on a log. One frog decides to jump off. So how many frogs are left on the log? The answer is five- because deciding and acting are very different things. After you’ve made a decision on what you could do to potentially improve the situation, act on it because taking action will immediately reduce your level of worry.
- Let It Go – After you’ve done everything you can to deal with a worst-case scenario, then it’s time to simply accept what’s happened. There’s no use worrying about it once you can’t do anything about it. Make peace with the issue and move on to the next one.
If Warren Buffett, who has billions of reasons to be worried, can use these six steps to free himself from worry, you can too.