We all feel uncertain from time to time and it’s easy to feel like we are being swept along in our daily lives, relationships, or careers by forces beyond our control. One way to feel more on top of things is to narrow your focus down to the things that you can control – and take action!

Let’s acknowledge straight away that there are aways things in your life that you may feel anxious about that you have no control over – the state of the economy, that merger that’s happening at work, or the traffic jam you are stuck in, for example. We waste a lot of emotional energy worrying about these things that are beyond our ability to influence however, there is a way to ensure that our emotional energy is spent where it can do some good.

Circles of Influence

The theory of ‘Circles of Influence’ was popularised by Stephen Covey in his best-selling book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.’ According to Covey we each have a wide range of concerns (things we worry about or that bother us). We can separate these concerns from things in which we have no particular mental or emotional involvement (outside things going on that we don’t care about) by creating a ‘Circle of Concern.’

We can then narrow our focus further to a ‘Circle of Influence’ which represents those worries we can do something about – either directly or indirectly.

Within that circle sits our ‘Circle of Control’ which represents the things we have direct power to change.

Choosing to focus where it counts

Covey suggests that we can and should choose where we focus our energy and attention. If we focus on the concerns outside our Circle of Influence, we risk feeling powerless. This feeling of powerlessness increases our stress and can result in us taking on a ‘victim mentality’ – accusing and blaming others for our ill-fortune – not just in the areas out of our control, but across the board.

In spending too much time focused on the things we can’t control in our lives, we may actually reduce our influence on the things we should be able to control directly, and our Circle of Influence and Circle of Control both become smaller.

How to put it into practice

Identify what you have the power to control

Zeroing in on what is in your power to control will enable you to see where your actions can have an impact. Rather than spending energy on things we can do nothing about, we can take steps that make a positive difference – ensuring that you are reacting positively and constructively to these external circumstances and calling on our strengths and connections. We can also then choose to let go of concerns that are not serving us well.

Challenge negative beliefs

Another way of enhancing the aspects of your life that you can control is to expand your perspective and challenge any negative, limiting beliefs that are holding you back from achieving everything you want to achieve. You need to constantly check if there is any room to expand your sphere of influence.

Develop a growth mindset

And one final way to progressively expand those innermost circles of influence and control is developing a growth mindset. People with a growth mindset feel that they can improve their skills and intellect. They think that while people have innate talents and attributes, personal growth is essential for success. A growth mindset will help you to turn obstacles into successes.

So, when you find yourself raging, powerless against that traffic jam you find yourself stuck in – direct your thoughts inwards to regain that sense of power and control – you may not be able to impact the broken-down truck on the freeway, but you are in control of the decisions you make in reaction to this event. Applying that same approach to other areas of your life will see you regain your personal power and feel more in control.

For help regaining control of your finances the team at Focus Wealth are here to help. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.