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Keepawakes: This Is Your Brain On Anxiety

As fallible humans, our thoughts are not always in sync with reality. Indeed, even when our conscious minds know to disconnect ourselves with something that we can’t change or that is false, we can still be plagued with persistent, unproductive thoughts.

During the Personal Goals part of strategic planning with a client, we at CSR always ask about “keepawakes.” These are issues that dominate one’s thoughts outside the office, even though worrying will do nothing to improve the situation. These are things that keep one up at night, and identifying them is crucial.

Occasionally, we get a client who claims to sleep very well and generally feel calm. Unfortunately, those business leaders are rare. We usually get statements like:

“I spend at least an hour awake every night wondering if we’ll make payroll this month.”

“I never relax because I know Ron could leave at any time and the firm would fall apart without him.”

“I always feel on edge because my landlord is a jerk. We’ve only got a year left in the lease but I still can’t stop thinking about it.”

“My spouse is sick of me complaining about my partner all the time. I can’t disconnect from work, even around my family.”

“We don’t have any immediate threats, but I always have a vague sense of unease and I barely sleep anymore.”

There’s usually very little CSR can do right away to help address keepawakes. But knowing what contributes to potential burnout is really important, especially if the client chooses to move to a retainer engagement. A small business can never be disconnected from the leader and we believe in a holistic problem-solving approach.

What are your keepawakes? Do they make sense? Is it ever helpful to stay awake thinking about them?


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