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The 20-Minute Worry Rule

Updated: Jan 1, 2020

My resolution for the New Year is actually very simple: The 20 Minute Rule. It means I no longer allow myself to worry over anything for more than 20 minutes. Anything. Not the state of my health, finances, relationships, the world – anything.

Why should this rank as a valid resolution? Well, because too often whatever the worry is can all too easily morph into a perfectly awful, depressing, miserable whole day. I have done that more than once, and it never made the worrisome thing go away. So, yes, for me at least, a valid resolution.

Sounds easy, right? Huh! Try it. Dang. Because it’s no fair stopping the worry about, say, the balance in my checking account after 20 minutes, only to start worrying about it again an hour or two later. Certainly not about the same dismal balance. Why 20 minutes? Because it often takes me about 20 minutes to realize I’ve been obsessively worrying about something. . .

The good news is that worrying is a habit, as anything else we do repetitively, and habits are made, therefore can be broken. Or, more accurately stated – developed, and therefore allowed to devolve into nothingness once again.

That being said, sometimes whatever I’m worrying about requires attention. Attention, yes, not worry. Proactive problem solving is the best alternative to worry.

Think of worry as an attention-getter. Something that alerts you to a situation that requires your attention. Not your fear, anguish, despair or anger – but your attention! Which in turn can lead to effective problem-solving to deal with whatever is causing you to worry.

After all, when you’re worrying about the weather, what you’re really worrying about is if you can get to work OK, or if your kids took their raingear, or if the roof will leak. All of those are things about which you can take proactive steps, thus quashing the worry. The weather itself? Nah. That you can’t do much about. So don’t try. Let worry get your attention focused on what you can do something about, and go for it.

Adopt The 20-Minute Rule for this stellar New Year, and watch what happens. Worry will vanish, and you will feel empowered once again.

Happy New Year!


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