No one ever said that life was going to be easy. Most of us expect to face challenges at some point. But what happens when you feel like you’re constantly swimming upstream? It may be time to step back and assess what is in and out of your control.
When it comes to things out of our control, we often spend too much energy worrying about them. These include the past, the future, what happens around us, what others think of us, the outcome of our efforts, the opinion of others, the actions of others, and more. Learning to let go of these can be difficult but can also lead to great relief.
On the other hand, there are plenty of things that you do have control over, and it’s essential to focus your energy on those areas. These include setting boundaries for yourself, your thoughts and actions, your goals, what you give your energy to, how you speak to yourself, and how you handle challenges.
Recognizing the difference between things in and out of your control can help keep you in check. Sure, life has its ups and downs — but with a mindful approach, you may find some calm amidst the chaos.
I spent some time asking other leaders what they recognize as things that are in their control that they focus on and what things they realize are out of their control and don’t spend time thinking about:
One leader said, “I focus on my attitude, my actions, and the results I put out. I’m not a fan of worrying about what other people think or how they are going to react in any given situation. That’s just not something I can control when it comes down to it.”
Another leader noted that they try their best to stay organized, follow through with their goals, and be the best version of themselves that they can be. They also added that they don’t put too much stock into what other people think or say. “There will always be people who disagree with you, but I believe if you’re confident in your decisions and opinions, that’s all that matters.”
The lesson from these two quotes is that it’s important to focus your energy on the things you can control, such as your attitude and actions. Don’t get caught up worrying about what other people think or say — you have no control over that. Instead, trust in yourself and make decisions confidently. This will help you stay focused and organized and make the most of your efforts.
A COO that I interviewed noted, “I realized that I was so focused on the decisions that didn’t work out in my past that it began to haunt my present. I learned to focus on what I have control over now and let go of things outside my influence.”
As I listened to this COO give me her thoughts, that last line stuck with me. I knew I had read Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People before and there is a concept related directly to focusing on things within our control.
Stephen Covey’s Circle of Influence and Circle of Concern are popular concepts to help people gain perspective on life. The idea is that we all have a certain amount of influence over our lives and the events that occur in it, as well as things outside of our control. The Circle of Influence consists of things within our power to change or affect, while the Circle of Concern consists of things beyond our control. By understanding and acknowledging the difference between the two circles, we can focus our energy on those things that are in our power to influence and let go of what is outside of our control. This allows us to be more productive and effective with how we spend our time and effort. Ultimately, it allows us to find some peace in the midst of chaos and confusion.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that some things will be out of your control. It’s best to focus on what you can do and let go of all the rest. The adage is true — don’t sweat the small stuff!
Take a deep breath and remember that life is a journey. Focus on what’s in your power and enjoy the ride!