Coping with unknown outcomes
"I am an old man and I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened." by Mark Twain
As software developers we have a lot of things that build unnecessary stress and anxiety in each day of our profession - just to mention a few and in no particular order:
- Collaborating with different types of personalities
- Dealing with conflict
- Estimating effort
- Managing expectations
- Choosing the right technologies
- Working on legacy repositories
- Fighting fires in production
In many cases we don't know what the outcome of a situation will be. Although this applies to all aspects of life, dealing with the unknown only amplifies the stresses that build.
A mentor introduced me to these three questions I could ask myself (and write down the answers to) when I find myself in a stressful situation where I can't predict the outcome:
- What do I think is the worst possible realistic outcome of the situation?
- How will I feel about it?
- What will I do about it?
I've seen the value of applying these questions both in my professional and personal capacity.
When I explore the absolute worst realistic outcome I can think of, I've given the situation deliberate thought and processed a way to deal with how I feel about it and how I can overcome it.
I am an old man and I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened. ~ Mark Twain
It's actually rare that the worst outcome will materialize so just by thinking about it I am equipped to take on whatever comes my way without getting worked up about it.