Focus within your Circle of Control

There’s a term in material science known as fatigue, which is the weakening of a material when it is subjected to cyclic loading.

I’ve been thinking about this recently in relation to the amount of negativity you get bombarded by every single day through reading the news, listening to people complain…etc. At some point, all the negativity will result in fatigue, which could manifest itself by your developing a negative attitude yourself or by making you snap at whoever is unfortunate to unload on you next.

That’s why it’s important who you surround yourself with and set boundaries to limit the deluge of negativity that reaches you.

I might have written about this before but I really like the idea that Stephen Covey made famous in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, about segmenting your life into your Circle of Control and Circle of Concern, then focusing on expanding the former and shrinking the latter.

A lot of times you find yourself worrying about things that are outside your Circle of Control, e.g. weather or politics. But unless you can do something about it, your time would be much better spent within that circle.

I was in the UAE last month for a week to do some pending paperwork, and one complaint I kept on hearing over and over again was how people were worried about losing their jobs. Of course, as an expat there, the algorithm goes as follows:
if job ==0:
 print (“Good bye visa.”)
 print (“Good bye dependent children’s education.”)
 print (“Hello, home country.”)

Out of all people, I should know since that was the highlight of 2017 for me.

But going back to the fear of losing your job (which is universal, by the way, but I just heard it there a lot because of its inherent equivalence to life stability)…you can’t control whether your boss is going to wake up one day and decide you’re out of the company.

What you can control though:
- Building your own skills so you become indispensable to the company (or more marketable outside). I’ve written about this here and here
- How much value are you adding…to the company/to the people around you/to the world.

There’s a book I read recently called Rapt by Winifred Gallager and the summary of the book is something we all intuitively know: your life is the sum of what you focus on so change your focus, change your life.

One noteworthy phrase quoted from the book is, “the skillful management of attention is the sine qua non of the good life and the key to improving virtually every aspect of your experience, from mood to productivity to relationships.”

I like the author’s choice of word “skillful” because it implies that managing attention is not an in-born quality but a skill that can be learned.

So I guess to sum up this article, there are three questions you need to consistently ask yourself:
- What negativity am I letting into my life? How is it affecting me and can I get rid of it?
- Am I spending more time within my Circle of Control or Circle of Concern?
- What am I paying attention to and how is it helping me grow?

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