Marie Forleo’s 90 Rule for Managing Stress, Improving Your Sanity and Leading a Balanced Life

It’s important to remember what we can and can’t control

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

The other day, I was driving and rushing to get to a delivery company before they closed for the day. Because I didn’t know where the company was, I was following google maps. Although I saw there was a left turn coming up, I mistakenly thought it was one street over so I got into the left turn lane. Then, I realized I was supposed to turn left on the next street, so seeing some space to shift into the lane over, I made a quick switch and was almost immediately at the intersection.

At that same moment, the light turned yellow AND a car going in the opposite direction decided they needed to turn right. I slowed down, but at that point, the light turned red. Since I was in the intersection, I decided I couldn’t back up so I crossed the intersection. Unfortunately for me, I saw a flash of light behind me. You see, at select intersections where I live, they have cameras to catch people going into the intersection after the light has turned red. When I crossed into the intersection, it was after the light had turned red, which meant that my car was photographed and I could expect a $400 ticket in a few weeks.

I did some funny things as I was waiting for the ticket:

  • I avoided going to my mailbox as if that was a way to not see the ticket.
  • I figured out how I might cut $400 from my discretionary spending so I could pay for the future ticket.
  • I thought about whether there was a way to dispute the ticket, potentially going to court or hiring a lawyer.
  • I calculated how much extra insurance I would have to pay from the ticket’s demerits.

Several weeks passed and nothing happened. Maybe they had reviewed the photograph and determined this was a special circumstance where I was already inside the intersection.

But just recently, I went through the same intersection, on my way to the same delivery company as before. And I only then realized, there was no camera after all. The flash of light? A reflection of sunlight from street signs.

It just so happened that as I’m driving, I’m listening to podcasts, and one episode from Marie Forleo’s podcast comes up called the 90 rule.

The 90 rule is simply this: 90% of what happens in your life are things you can control. 10% of what happens in your life are things you cannot control.

10% of the things that happen to you, you cannot control:

  • The weather
  • Whether you’ll meet the person of your dreams
  • Getting laid off at your company for budgetary reasons

In other words, don’t worry about the 10%! if you can’t control it, there’s nothing you can do so you have to let go. Focus on the 90% of life that you can control.

So from my above story, I shouldn’t have worried about the 10%:

  • Whether I got a ticket
  • How that would impact my insurance
  • The $400 I would need to pay for the ticket

I especially shouldn’t have worried about this before it happened. But what I can focus on is the 90%:

  • Being a safer driver
  • Earning more money so that this doesn’t bother me in the future
  • Scheduling more time so that I don’t have to rush and be flustered

You can’t calm the storm…so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass.

Author of Essential Habits. Inspiring others to live better and happier lives through better habits, work and career advice, and mindset changes.

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