Do you need a cure for anxiety? This article will show you how you can get rid of lifestyle-related anxiety in under a month–no pills required!

Imagine a ball floating in a gray sea, no islands in sight, no direction, and batting as hard as a ball can battle just to stay afloat. How’s a ball supposed to feel? Could a human be expected to feel any less anxiety in similar circumstances?

Most of us aren’t exactly where we want to be: we’re in between the islands of childhood and doing what we love as adults. And sometimes that can feel scary—especially when we don’t know where our next island is. So we meditate or take prescriptions to feel okay with the present, to help with our anxiety. But at some point it’s just not healthy to feel okay with floating. You can and should be going somewhere.

You need an action plan.

You need a purpose.

How I healed my anxiety by working towards my purpose

I struggled with high anxiety for three years in my early twenties. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice to say that I sprouted two gray hairs and couldn’t sleep…ever. I got over it though. But it wasn’t the thousands of dollars spent on vitamins, supplements and doctors visits—those didn’t help at all, actually. It wasn’t the move to seaside California, which I thought would be my cure for anxiety.

It was work.

I just started doing good things that would get me where I wanted to go, and I did it every day.

I picked some goals for the career I wanted, broke those goals into daily action steps, and made it my purpose in life to act. I knew if I committed to these steps for long enough I’d be able to help all the people I wanted to, do what I loved, and make good money. That was the island I picked out for myself. And when I paddled to it all day every day, my anxiety disappeared. I’d get rocked by waves and squalls; I’d feel the fear like anybody does. But as long as I paddled consistently and knew where I was headed, the anxiety never came back. I had direction, momentum, and focus. I had Purpose.

Today I make an awesome living as a writer and coach, and I help a lot of people. I reached the island. But when you get the taste for work, for challenge, your ass wants to paddle. So I’ve picked some bigger islands even farther out: I want to help a million singles master self love and find their purpose and passions.

Then last week I stopped paddling for three days. Enter: anxiety

Normally it’s writing, writing, coaching, reading, working on my business, writing, and generally improving myself—a fair bit of paddling, if I don’t say so. But I used a minor health issue as an excuse to not work towards my goals. I had all the time in the world…I just didn’t do a damn thing with it.

First day was okay. I probably needed the break. Leisure reading, leisure walks: just leisure. Second day was less okay; felt on edge. The third day came to a crux:

I began to feel the same anxiety that crippled me in my early twenties. Not to the same degree. But it sucked.


I couldn’t concentrate on anything, and I felt the overwhelming urge to check Facebook and text and emails constantly, like I used to do. But that didn’t make me feel better. Instead I was overcome with the feeling of floating—just like that poor little ball at the beginning of this article. My vitamin P was at a three-year low.

The cure for my temporary anxiety was obvious—get back to paddling. Focus on a goal, and get after it.

So this morning I wrote down my action plan for the day (which I hadn’t done the past three days.) Then I made it my business to write each article, to pitch each pitch, and to coach each client to the best of my ability. I felt focus and momentum before I even tackled my first project—that’s how powerful a plan is. And by the end of the day, after hours and hours of paddling, I had all of my momentum back. I had my focus. I had my Purpose. All the little anxieties of yesteryear vanished, just like that.

Purpose is powerful medicine. Work is, too.

How to cure your anxiety with purpose, a plan, and work.

If you suffer from purpose-related anxiety, your cure does not lie in another pill, another shrink, or another coach. You need a plan. You need a daily practice of outlining and completing the things you know are good for you. You need to be so focused on improvement and accomplishing goals that you simply lack the time for anxious rumination.

So get a blank journal and a pen: voila! That’s your planner. Use it every morning for just a few purpose related goals.

Your daily plan should be very simple and not at all complicated. I recommend a few simple recurring goals—meditation, journaling, self-encouragement, and exercise to name a few. (All included in this daily planner below.)


Then schedule out just a few tangible actions related to your long-term goals, which should include work, learning, and fun. If you don’t know what these goals are, you’re in need of a longterm brainstorming session. Take an hour or two tonight to reflect on what you want over the next year in:

Your career
Your health and fitness
For fun/self love
For learning
For financial goals
And for giving back.

Once you get in the habit of planning and acting towards your purpose all day every day, you will no longer have room for anxiety. There will be too many challenges to focus on; too many accomplishments to revel in; and too much joy to share for you to float off in existential ramblings.


If you’re tired of excuses, of anxiety/depression, and if you want to take control of your life and emotions before the rest of your life slips away, make your plan today. Then do it again every morning. Choose Sundays to plan out a list of action steps toward your bigger picture goals for your week ahead. And choose one Sunday a month to plan out your longterm goals for the month ahead. It’s dead simple. All you have to do is make sure that your daily goals are aligned to those far-off islands, and that you always have something meaningful to work on. No one else can do this for you—though a coach can really, really help—so get to it!

If you want expert guidance and help with planning for a purposeful lifestyle, check out my coaching services here.

Originally published at


  • Daniel Dowling

    Performance Coach, Writer for Greatist,, Mindbodygreen, and FastCompany.

    Dan Dowling, here. I was the poster child for lost millennials - couldn’t keep a job…addicted to relationships…constantly checking social media and email. But when I got hungry enough for success as a writer, I gave up my distracted lifestyle and adopted one daily goal that changed my life forever: Do. Your. Best. Today, five years later, I’m a productivity coach who’s published on the world’s biggest sites (including Entrepreneur, Fast Company and Mindbodygreen), and I’m transforming lives through the best-effort, zero-distraction lifestyle that worked so well for me. Come and and learn how to always give your best at Millennial Success!