Why You Should Stop Caring About Results

no worries
Plot twist: there’s an ant hill underneath her. Run! Photo by a n i. Y.

In school, I didn’t care about my grades. That was my first foray into not caring about results.

It was only in my later high school years that I did my homework regularly (whoever invented homework is the worst).

But the reason I still had decent grades (my college GPA was 3.43) is because I was a master test taker. And my secret of success was… apathy. I did prefer to do well on tests as opposed to poorly, but I felt no pressure while taking them because the outcome didn’t matter very much to me.

Grades didn’t matter to me, either. It looks like I was on to something, because so far, my college degree hasn’t mattered!

A Relaxed Mind Is Unbeatable

A relaxed state of mind is ideal for most occasions. Think about what it means to be relaxed: you have no major concerns, no distractions, and your mind is clear. The stereotypical apathetic person (“the dude abides”) is also very relaxed and gains these benefits. But what about the opposite of apathy? That’s caring. And the people who care too much often perform the worst in that area because they can’t relax.

People with social anxiety care more about social interactions than anyone else does. They care so much about a social interaction going smoothly, that they often avoid those situations altogether. And when they’re in those situations, they can’t act naturally because they’re so concerned about how they’re coming across, how smoothly and pleasantly the exchange is going, and how something might go wrong.

Depressed people care far more about shutting down negative thoughts than anyone else does. In doing so, they encourage further negative thinking (for more on this, see my guest post on Develop Good Habits).

Nervous test takers care far more about their test results than I ever did, and their nervousness interferes with their ability to recall what they studied.

Why You Should Be Apathetic About Results (Seriously!)

Apathy in general is not a good thing, but in select circumstances, it can prove to be very useful. I can say from experience that the way to beat anxiety is to stop caring so much about it—I let anxious thoughts and feelings happen; I accepted them and stopped fighting them.

When you care less about any result of a process, it makes the process itself easier. And that’s what I’m getting at. People worry way too much about results, when it’s so much more effective to not care at all about the results and instead focus on the process. This is logical, because the only way to get results is to go through whatever process leads to them. And if success doesn’t happen the first time, guess what? You’ll have to try again!

Focusing on the result doesn’t provide a benefit; it’s misplaced focus. It’s ironic, too, that the reason we’re going through the process is to get a positive result, but that result can distract us from getting it.

Look At This List Of Results To Stop Caring About

The applications for “result apathy” are numerous:

  • Improve your test-taking ability by not caring so much about your grade
  • Be more relaxed in social situations by not caring so much about rejection
  • Deliver a better speech by not caring about mistakes or imperfect delivery
  • Become less anxious by not caring so much about your anxious thoughts and feelings
  • Reduce your depression by caring less about how many negative thoughts you think
  • Improve your productivity by caring less about how much (or what quality of) work you get done

This isn’t apathy in the negative sense it’s often used. Rather, this is shifting your focus of what you care about. We all want to care about what matters, and what matters is moving forward in life instead of backwards. In order to do that, you have to care about the processes of how things are done (or not done). When you do that, you’ll get great results.

The best way I’ve found to focus on the process is to have mini habits.

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