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We all feel anxiety. It comes from a feeling of inadequacy, which we get when we compare our results to the results of others. Whether it be our creations, grades, job titles, bank balances.

The problem is we compare our results to the results of people who have different goals. And we see their speed and success as a measure of our shortcomings, despite the fact that different sports are scored in different ways. 

The first half of the solution is to stop comparing ourselves to others. And to instead compare ourselves to ourselves. If you want to be a novelist, stop measuring yourself against Hemingway. Instead, map progress. Focus on writing more and writing better, and you’ll find you worry about very little.

The second half of the solution is preparation. Anxiety is aroused by ongoing nerves, which are triggered by not feeling prepared. Not feeling prepared to answer correctly in a job interview. Not feeling prepared to do the project entirely on our own. Not feeling prepared to give it all up in favour of a new start. Nerves are triggered by not feeling prepared, so to reduce anxiety, we must prepare. Prepare our skills by learning more than we are told to learn. Prepare our expectations by acknowledging that the learning curve is slow and hazardous to begin. Prepare our drive by considering every failure to be a mistake better known than not. Prepare our confidence by recognising that nobody is above us.

Anxiety is a product of our mind. The same mind that makes an excellent servant, but a terrible master.