I once worked with the head copywriter of an advertising firm who found it difficult not to worry about the financial health of her company—how many clients account services was landing, what kind of designs the art department was producing, whether her boss would start laying people off. Once she realized that each of these things was well outside of her control, and that worrying about them only led to heightened levels of stress, she was able to shift her focus toward fixing what was troubling her in her job, her workplace, and in many ways her life.
As with other clients, I had her make two lists: what she could control and what she couldn’t. As it often happens, she was surprised to see how much of her daily life fell into the former column. She managed a team of eight people, all talented copywriters who looked to her for instruction and guidance. She was in charge of leading the creative meetings that brainstormed ideas for each client. She might not have been a top executive, but every word the firm placed on a client’s advertisement was in her hands.