This summer’s #1 bestselling business book, Triggers, by Marshall Goldsmith, describes how not to worry about things not worth worrying about. I’m going to improve what he wrote.
He created an acronym, AIWATT, which he rhymes with “say what,” short for the first six words of this question:
Am I willing,
at this time,
to make the investment required
to make a positive difference
on this topic?
If you are not willing to do anything about something and you are aware that you aren’t willing to act, then you will see no point in worrying about it. Instead you’ll concern yourself with things you can act on. If you’re willing to act but also realize your actions won’t make a difference, or if they’ll make a difference but not make a positive difference, by whatever criteria you determine positive, you’ll also see no point in worrying.
Say you’re hiking and cut yourself, not badly. You have a medical kit in your backpack but packed deep, at the bottom. To get to it you’d have to stop, open the pack, dig everything out, and open the kit. After using it you’d have to pack everything again. If the cut doesn’t hurt and you’re confident you’ll heal, you aren’t willing at that time to make the investment required to make a positive different on that topic.
Conclusion: enjoy the hike and don’t worry about the cut.
When you worry less about some things, you gain the mental freedom to do more with others.
Fan that I am of Strunk and White, I can’t help omitting needless words. Marshall’s nineteen words can be reduced, which I expect will make the phrase easier to remember and act on. That’s important if their goal is to improve your life.
“Am I willing” is the same as “Will I.” Savings: one word.
“At this time” means “now.” Another two words saved.
“To make the investment required” means “to invest enough,” which I can simplify to “to do enough.” Another three.
“To make a positive difference” means “to improve.” Another three.
“On this topic” means “this,” which sounds vague, but you’ll be asking yourself in a context where you know what you mean by “this.” Another two words saved.
Putting it together you get WINDETIT:
Will I Now Do Enough To Improve This?
Remember WINDETIT, pronounced “Wind edit.” It may not be the punchiest acronym ever, but it captures the whole question with no loss of meaning. The phrase is easy to say and remember.
Now you can worry less and do more.
Or remember AIWATT to achieve the same goals if you can remember the next thirteen words in the question after the acronym.