Simple Anxiety Test for High Performers

The simple anxiety test that tells you whether you need to get help

Anxiety Test Performance Anxiety Curve

Anxiety can be a huge performance killer. In fact, it's often a primary cause of career stagnation and of ambitious professionals failing to reach their potential. So people often ask me if I offer an online anxiety test and until now I've resisted. "Why?" you might ask... 

Well... When I enquire how an anxiety test would help, the answer is usually along the lines of "So I know how bad my anxiety is.", or "So I know whether I need help." Sometimes the answer is "So I know I'm not just imagining it."

In truth there's very little value in most of the anxiety tests out there. This is because what matters is your subjective experience (how you feel about your anxiety and the impact it's having on you) - and you already know that. Ultimately the only useful conclusion of a test is what action you're going to take to resolve the anxiety.

So, if I were to offer an anxiety test for high performers, here's the only thing I would offer:

Anxiety Test Question 1:

How intense are the feelings of anxiety (high or low)?

The intensity of the anxiety is a key factor in the impact it will have on performance and also longer-term consequences.

  • High means the anxiety is having a significant impact on your performance. There is a danger of developing a generalised anxiety disorder (if it hasn't happened already), where anxiety is triggered by otherwise normal events. The sooner you get it resolved the better. 
  • Low means it's less likely to generalise. The important thing to pay attention to is whether the anxiety is getting more or less intense.

Anxiety Test Question 2:

What's not getting the anxiety resolved costing you?

Imagine being 12 months into the future still with the problem, looking back. How much has the anxiety cost you over that 12 month period?

Start with the tangible cost of missed opportunities in your career.
Also, what impact has it had on your professional and personal relationships?
What impact has it had on your health, fitness, rest?
What impact has it had on your overall quality of life?
What impact does it have elsewhere?

An easy way to put a value on the intangibles is to ask yourself "What is the maximum you would pay just to avoid the impact of anxiety for these situations?" Add the costs up to give a total per year. How many years do you think you could suffer from anxiety? Answers range from 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, until retirement, forever.  Multiply the cost per year by the number of years. How much is it costing you?

  • Low cost - You probably won't invest sufficient time and energy to do anything about the anxiety.
  • High cost - the sooner you find the right help the better. No time like the present.

Anxiety Test Question 3:

What will you do once the anxiety is resolved?

What do you want to do, but can't because of the anxiety? How important is it for you to do these things?

  • Low importance - you're unlikely to take action to change the anxiety, so might as well accept it.
  • High importance - when do you want to get started?

Anxiety Test Question 4:

When will you commit to resolving your problem with anxiety?

This is often the biggest hurdle for anxiety sufferers. The over-thinking that accompanies anxiety often results in low activity rates and ineffective thinking and ineffective action. Until you take action to resolve the anxiety you are likely to continue experiencing the same problems.

  • Probably never - it's more of a curiosity than a real problem and I'm addicted to the drama (!)
  • Right NOW - It's impact is unacceptable to me. I need to get this sorted right now.

What did you learn from the test? Do let me know how you get on!.... I'm here to help....

Speak soon,


Paul Burden
Performance Coach & Anxiety Specialist

P.S. For high performers only, there's a super succinct version of the test. See question 4...

Please share the love - thanks!

TEDx Paul Burden Sport Psychology RHS

Paul Burden MSc

Performance Coach and Anxiety Specialist

With 25 years experience in coaching, Paul’s passion is assisting high performers to overcome setbacks, rise to the challenge and create success where it counts most.

His own experiences of anxiety as a young athlete and during his early business career started his journey into high performance psychology.

This personal experience and passion for helping others is underpinned by training with masters in the fields of coaching, performance psychology and personal development.

He's helped thousands of people overcome fears, control anxieties and perform at their best. 

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TEDx Paul Burden Control Anxiety RHS

Paul Burden MSc 

Performance Coach & Anxiety Specialist

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We'll talk about what you want to achieve and how I can help. 

Coaching for Anxiety in Sport