Many of the clients I work with have anxious tendencies, which means they spend lots of time worrying about what might happen in the future. This can be helpful from a perspective of risk identification and management, but often the behaviour goes further than this and becomes problematic. We end up super stressed about possible “failures” and this leads us to inaction.

In this episode I share with you some thoughts from the book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” by Dale Carnegie. This book taught me that most of the time, the worst case scenario is actually not so bad and it’s worth taking a risk in case the outcome is better.

Links I mentioned in this episode:

14. Worrying about the future – Transcript

[00:00:00] Hi, there I’m Bec McFarland the host of the Pop Your Career Podcast. As a career coach, I’m most passionate about helping my clients to discover their own personal flavour of career fulfillment. In this podcast, we are going to be exploring ways that you too can feel more fulfilled by your work. So strap yourself in, get ready for the ride. The tips around here are fast and in abundance.

[00:00:29] Hello hello. It is Bec McFarland here helping you do better and be better in your career. And today I wanted to talk to you about worrying about the future. This is something that comes up really frequently in career coaching because people are always, like always, worried that they might [00:01:00] be making a wrong decision.

[00:01:03] If you have known me for a little while, you’re probably not going to be too surprised by my response here. I, myself am naturally a bit of a worrier. I tend to be quite an anxious person. I’m working on it. But one of the things that I really try not to worry about is just inconsequential stuff that I have control over. Right?

[00:01:37] When people come to me and we are going through their coaching, they worry about things. Like what if I take the job and I’m not happy? Well, what if I change careers and it’s not what I thought it was all cut out for? What if I start a business and it doesn’t succeed? What if? What if? What if?[00:02:00]

[00:02:00] Many years ago, one of my work colleagues recommended a book to me. This was a work colleague that I worked with at a leadership level quite a few years ago when I was working as a HR manager of a small business. And, interestingly enough, this ex-colleague of mine is actually now my tax accountant.

[00:02:19] So hi, Jess, if you’re listening. I absolutely adore Jess. I’m not even sure if she would remember doing this, but she recommended this book to me called How To Stop Worrying and Start Living. And that book is written by Dale Carnegie, who is the guy who wrote How To Win Friends and Influence People. And this was very well meaning, as I said, I am a bit of a worrier. And so Jess recommended this book to me and I bought it. I am a big book collector, not necessarily always a book reader, but I love to collect books.

[00:02:57] I ordered this book and [00:03:00] then I did start reading it and I’m going to be honest with you. I think I only got a couple of chapters into it, but it shared this concept of like, if you’re worried about something, why don’t you think about like, what is the worst possible thing that could happen? and automatically I’m like, you know, I can kind of feel my heart beating a little faster, my palms and getting sweaty. I’m like, oh boy, like, is that really a rabbit hole that you want to go down with an anxious person? Like, do we really want to be talking about worst case scenarios here? But what I found through, you know, having a look at some of the examples in the book and then starting to apply some of this information to myself, I could really see where the author was like, what he was getting at. I could see where he was going with that idea.

[00:03:52] And so this is something that I often share with my career coaching clients when they’re kind of playing that ‘what if?’ game [00:04:00] or they’re sitting, and they’re just worrying about all of these potential things that might happen in the future. Well, guess what? They might not.

[00:04:08] And I’m probably not as articulate as Dale Carnegie. I’m probably not as profound either, but what I am able to do is to walk my career coaching clients down a path where I, I, I say to them, ‘and then what would happen? And then what would happen and then what would happen?’

[00:04:30] You know, we’ve all got this fear that like, what happens if we get fired? Well, then what would happen? And most of my clients say, I’d get another job. And I’m like, yeah, right? That’s it. Now I can appreciate that that response really, really comes from a place of privilege. And I want you to, as you’re listening to this, you know, story, and, and this episode to understand [00:05:00] that I understand the level of privilege that I have and the level of privilege that a lot of my clients have. You know, my clients are generally in a position where they are able to afford the investment of career coaching. So right there, and then there’s already a certain level of implied privilege when it comes to myself and the people that I’m working with.

[00:05:25] But, usually when we are going down this rabbit hole and we are playing that,’ you know, and then what would happen and then what would happen?’ We never get to a point where someone is going to die and we never get to a point where someone is going to be living on the side of the street in a cardboard box.

[00:05:45] And look, I’m, I am completely aware that maybe that is not the most politically correct thing to say, but for the people that I am working with in career coaching, [00:06:00] that that is the privileged reality. That, you know, nobody is going to end up starving or in a place where they’re unable to put food on the table for their family or in a place where they’re going to end up without a home or without some form of roof above their head.

[00:06:24] Now, again, I do want to just acknowledge the privilege and I want to say, I know that there are people out there who are in different situations and they don’t have that privilege. And for them going down that rabbit hole may actually be something that’s very serious. But for many of the people that I’m working with, and also many of the people who are listening to this episode today, those are not things that you would really have on your worst case scenario list.

[00:06:54] So many of the people that I’m working with and many of the people who are listening to [00:07:00] this podcast, those are not futures that they really and genuinely need to be worried about. And so, as we progress forward, I just ask that, you know, as you’re listening to this, approach it with the level of privilege that you have, the level of privilege that you are aware of in your circle, in your community, in your family. And just know that each of us, you know, we are in different places, we are in different situations and there are different things that we have to worry about.

[00:07:39] This episode is brought to you by the Career Clarity Quest, my absolutely free, seven day program, which is designed to support you in getting so much clearer about your next steps. Find it at

[00:07:59] The reason that I [00:08:00] wanted to talk about this topic though today is that often I am finding that people are really stressing out and really worrying about things that they just don’t really have to worry about because it isn’t a reality for them. And so this is where I kind of take that approach of, you know, the Dale Carnegie, how to stop worrying and start living in actually like unpacking it and going like ‘yeah. So what would happen? What would be the worst case scenario here? What have you really got to be afraid of? And is it actually that bad?’

[00:08:45] Because a lot of the time, what I’m seeing is that this fear, this intense fear. Is the thing that’s holding people back from potentially going after a job or a career that might really [00:09:00]light them up. From making a change and maybe moving away from a toxic employer or a toxic workplace.

[00:09:06] Worrying about these potential things, these possible events or things that could happen in the future. This worrying, this fear, this intense unrelenting fear is the thing that is causing a lot of my clients to not chase after the things that they really want. To not go after that new job or that new career path because they’re worried about the fact that maybe it’s not going to turn out. Or maybe they’re worried about leaving a toxic workplace or a toxic manager, because they’re worried that the grass is not going to be greener on the other side. Worrying. Unnecessarily worrying.

[00:09:56] So as I’m sure that well, as I [00:10:00] hope that you can appreciate, I do understand that there are a lot of sensitivities around the things that we do worry and around the things that we do worry about and about the things that we do have concerns or fear about when it comes to our careers.

[00:10:16] But what I’d invite you to do is to start to unpack what the worst case scenario might be, what that could look like for you, and then make a true and valid assessment about whether it is actually something that’s worth worrying about, or whether it’s something that you can put to the side so that you can start to be more intentional, more proactive, more enthusiastic and more joyful about chasing some of those goals that you have for your career.

[00:10:50] Have an amazing week. I look forward to chatting with you over on socials. Please continue the conversation with me over there. I’m at Pop Your Career[00:11:00] and I will see you again on next week’s episode. Bye-bye now.

[00:11:06] Thanks so much for listening to the Pop Your Career podcast. I hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s tips and that you found value in what I’ve shared with you. If you like your career advice quick and entertaining, I would love for you to subscribe. Also leave me a rating and a review. If you want to continue the conversation, come and join me over on social media. You can find me everywhere at Pop Your Career. I’ll see you soon.


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About the author 


Bec McFarland is an experienced HR practitioner, manager, career coach and the creator of Pop Your Career. She delights in sharing practical, straight to the point career advice, spending time with her family and eating Mexican food.