Anxiety as a Positive Agent for Change

Anxiety is a part of everyone’s life from the moment we are born, and is generally produced from some form of change.  Generally connoting negative emotion and outcome, anxiety is synonymous with stress which many of us have come to believe is not a “good” thing.

At birth, you’re no longer in the womb.  This is a stressful change.  

You graduate high school and are suddenly “on your own” facing many new experiences and challenges.  Anxiety in some form or another will probably ensue.  

Your work organization undergoes significant structural modifications.  Change to the environmental norm at work can be scary.    

However, have you ever considered the positive attributes of stress?   

Take a deadline for instance.  For procrastinators, deadlines act as positive stress, creating necessary anxiety.  The anxiety of meeting a deadline forces them (okay, “us”) to get things done; I think we can all agree that getting things done is a good thing.

Without deadlines, some  people will never finish projects [in a timely manner] or arrive to appoints in time, or give presents for their loved ones on an annual basis (a birthday can serve as deadline).

In a business setting, anxiety too can be used to the benefit of the organization.

This notion is an underutilized if not completely ignored strategy in many workplaces because anxiety is most often forged by and maintained with negative influence.  It is usually derived from circumstances that force knee-jerk reactions out of fear or pressure, versus deliberate pro-activity born from solid strategic planning and communication.

Companies which are well-versed in transformational change have cracked the code on delivering urgency (basically meaning a “deadline” for achieving rapid change) and creating positive anxiety to their advantage.

At such a point, employees are not solely, negatively impacted by the stress, but rather energized by it.  It drives them to achieve the goals set forth by the change, and eventually anxiety is surpassed by positive outcomes.

Those organizations that can learn to quickly adapt to constantly evolving external and internal environments are those that use the anxiety that comes with change as a force multiplier.

Can you think of areas in your life where stress or anxiety can be used to your advantage?

About jeanc2013

Recently deployed to Afghanistan as a civilian for the US military, specializing in organizational development and communications. Currently seeking my graduate degree in Organizational Psychology through MSPP on the part-time program, with intended graduation in 2015. I'm happy to answer any questions pertaining to my experiences with MSPP, working for the government, or travelingg and living abroad. Please don't be shy!
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