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I'm nervous about my future.

Is it normal to have anxiety over the future? anxiety anxiety-management life-coach career-counseling

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Jared’s, CareerVillage.org Team Answer

Yes, it is normal. I have anxiety about the future all the time. Most of my friends face some form of acute stress on a very frequent basis, much of it rooted in anxiety about what the future holds.

I used to have terrible anxiety as a teenager as well. I remember really worrying that I was going to let people down or have a bad life. It was terrible. But I didn't feel it all the time. I still have anxiety and stress, but I've learned how to manage it much more proactively and I feel much much healthier mentally and emotionally. Concern for the future is helpful if it motivates you to action, but if you have too much of it, it can be paralyzing. You don't want to let it get over the top where it's paralyzing you or making you feel depressed. Everyone will have their own formula for how to handle this, but here are some specific ideas that have worked for me or my friends:
- Taking a moment at the end of each day to make note of a specific moment when you were happy during the day. The more specific the better. Don't ever let a day go by without acknowledging a happy moment you had.
- Schedule time to appreciate what is good in life.
- Make discrete plans for your future, including contingency plans that address your anxieties. The better your plan the more prepared you will be, which will make it easier to turn stressful anxiety into relieving action.
- Bring more routine into your day to make things more predictable. Start using your calendar to schedule more of your time and try to keep track of everything. Here's a talk I gave on this topic many years ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmTfO3gpseI
- Meditate or practice mindfulness. It's anecdotal, but I've heard a lot of people who report benefits from routine meditation and mindfulness. But your mileage may vary, and I would caution you that it may take a lot of practice to get good at it. I had really good results with meditation -- it was a great way to acknowledge what was stressful for me in my life, process it, and then put it aside as appropriate. I used an app called Headspace for a while, which was not bad as a starting point, but there's a ton of free content on Youtube you can find to get started with this.
- Routine aerobic exercise is scientifically proven as a big factor in how well you can handle stress and anxiety. I tried running for a while, but I struggled with it. Now I ride my bike routinely, and I eat better and feel much healthier. I know it makes a big difference for me. It doesn't eliminate my sources of anxiety, but I feel better able to handle anxiety and turn it into action rather than letting it paralyze me.
- If you are a smoker, consider quitting right now. Smoking can cause a lot of tension and anxiety. If you feel that it helps you relax, remember that smoking temporarily relieves the stress that addiction to it causes. One great way to break the cycle is to recognize it for what it is: relief of a problem it creates.
- Spend more time with friends or make friends or change your friends, depending on your situation. I didn't always hang out with the right crowd of people, and at some points in my life they brought me a lot of anxiety for my future and also for my present.
- Make the most of the present, rather than putting all of your hoped on the future. Take charge of what you do in the evenings or on weekends to ensure that you really enjoy it. That doesn't mean you should slack off and spend all weekend watching TV (unless that's your true passion) -- it just means that you should find ways to do activites that make you stronger and better and which you enjoy, and that make you feel rewarded.
- Keep a journal of your thoughts. After I left my career to start CareerVillage.org, I kept a journal for several years in which I wrote notes about how I was feeling and why. It really helped me get to understand myself better, especially when I was unable to process my emotions through conversation with a friend or spouse.

And most importantly, if stress or anxiety ever feel like they are getting to be too much, or you just want to speak with a professional about it, go see a professional! Or if you don't have access, you can always text the CrisisTextLine https://www.crisistextline.org/ or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Source: Personal experiences.

Caveats: I'm not a mental health professional. I'm just a guy who has dealt with anxiety and whose friends also deal with it in their lives. You should seek the help of a mental health or medical professional immediately if you ever feel that your anxiety is dangerous or greatly affecting your life and the lives of people around you.
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Jessica’s Answer

Yes, it is completely natural to be nervous about your future! As you become an adult and chase your dreams and complete set goal, the unknown is always a scary thing. But, my advice to you is to not be afraid of it. Be cautious, but not afraid. Look at challenges that come your way and take advantage of ones that will further your career and you as a person.

As you continue on this journey call life, develop interests that will keep you grounded and you can rely on. These can be things you already have an interest in or others. Develop meaningful relationships with important people in your life so when things do get crazy, you have a support system to lean on...especially when things get crazy or your anxiety spikes.

Just know the uncertainty in life is a given. If everything was given to us, then life would be boring. Take it one step at a time and develop a solid foundation in yourself and the "village" that surrounds you so when you start to lean, it will bring you back to solid ground.


Good luck with everything!

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Gloria’s Answer

Hi Nicole,

I would say that it is very normal. All of us worry about the future, since it is never guaranteed. That worry can be a tool for us to use. When you take action against that worry, you are making a plan. And in many ways, having a plan eases that worry. Maybe the question is something like - will I ever get the job that I want? You have to plan to get the job. Sometimes it starts with acting like you already have the job. Other times it is about being ready for the job when it comes along by honing the skills that you need for the job. Maybe you should be working on a college degree that fits with your job. I got my dream job while I was working on my masters degree for the job that I wanted. Whta did that entail? Well I didn't wait to get my degree to start doing the job. I worked on projects at my current job that allowed me to use the skills that I needed. I also used those skills when I volunteered at places. I write for a living as an instructional designer, so I would do newsletters and stuff for a charity to keep up my skills. And then I applied for the job that I wanted, even though I didn't have the all important degree. The lady who hired me for the best job that I ever had said that she hired me because I was getting my degree along with having some skill. My commitment to learning gave her confidence that I would do a good job.

Gloria
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Diana’s Answer

It is absolutely normal to be nervous and anxious about the future. None of us know what to expect, and even under best planned circumstances, things change, and that’s ok, because it’s also what makes life interesting.

There are some things that could help manage some of the anxiety:
*Understand what makes you nervous, and know what your strengths are
*Create short term goals and celebrate small wins as you work towards long term goals
*Know that your dream job may change many times, keep your options open
*Experience as much as you can, and take one day at a time!

Take a deep breath, you’ve got this under control - enjoy everything that comes your way as the experience will only make you stronger.
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Simeon’s Answer

Yes, it's incredibly normal to be worried about the future. There is a lot of pressure to find your passion path early on and succeed at it as soon as possible. Find people in your season of life who share the same concerns and you'll be surprised by how much ya'll have in common. A little comradery goes a long way in alleviating those concerns.
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Sunderajan’s Answer

I'm nervous about my future - that makes two or rather "many" of us! It is normal to be nervous which really makes you invested & motivates you to plan for it. That is the first step to work towards a successful future and future is an ever evolving journey, a marathon with a blind spot at every turn and not a sprint or a goal by itself - congratulations on taking your first step and all the best for the rest of the many to follow :)
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Savannah’s Answer

Hi! it is 100% ok to be nervous about growing up and abou your future. It helps alot by thinking all the things you can do but also making sure you keep yourself mentally and physically healthy also. Here is something you can help yourself to be less stress. for me I love music, music has helped me a lot. It helps me morn, chill, get in a better mood, and help me think. There are other things you can also do, you can also cook, draw, paint, read, watching a show or movie keeps your mind engared and stops you thinking about your problems for a bit. You can also exercise, yoga, and dancing. You could also try to get out more with friends and family, you can also talk to someone about your problems but also just manage your time well have have a good balance between school work and do things for yourself and what makes you happy. There is alot of ways you can help yourself with whatever all you have to do is what works for you. Hope this helps!
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