How to Stop Worrying and Focus on What You Can Control

How to Stop Worrying and Focus on What You Can Control

The following is adapted from our Mindset Reset Workbook:

In order to achieve our goals, we need to work out where we are spending our time focusing our time and energy. The exercise to follow is designed to help you achieve laser like focus to ensure you are only concerned with focusing your energy into the areas where you can have impact. It is adapted from Steven Covey’s, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

We each have a wide range of concerns: our children, our health, our weight, problems at work, who is in charge of our country, war etc. We can place all of these things into what we call a 'Circle of Concern.' This is, all the things that we are concerned about in our lives and in the world.

We have a certain degree of mental or emotional involvement with them, but, if we look closely, it becomes apparent that there are some things over which we have no real control and others that we can do something about. We can identify those concerns that we can do something about by putting them into a smaller 'Circle of Influence.' By determining which of these two circles is the focus of most of our time and energy, we can discover a lot about our degree of proactivity. Proactivity is your ability to do something about the things that you would like to change rather than reacting to the events that happen.

In Steven Covey’s book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People he says,


Therefore, as you have the ability to make changes in your life, your life doesn’t just “happen” to you. Whether you are aware of it or not, your life is designed by you.

In Steven Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he describes two types of people: proactive and reactive. Proactive people focus on their 'Circle of Influence', instead of dwelling on the problems they cannot change, they shift their energy and focus in areas which they can make a difference. This is why proactive people are positive go-getters who help improve the world and, as they do, they extend their 'Circle of Influence' even further.

On the other hand, reactive people overlook their 'Circle of Influence' and dwell on the issues in their 'Circle of Concern' - including worries with no solutions. Their unhelpful thinking patterns work to restrict their sphere of influence, as they only perceive and process issues that they cannot change. Reactive people feel powerless against life's forces and tend to blame external circumstances for their shortcomings.

Reactive behaviour lets your outside influences - the moods, feelings, circumstances and the things in your 'Circle of Concern' - control your response. When you focus on things you cannot control, you have less time and energy to spend on things you can influence.

Proactive behaviour gives you the freedom to choose your responses, based on your desired results. Proactive behaviour uses responses like, 'let me look at my alternatives' or 'I will choose an appropriate response or a different approach'. This gives a greater sense of initiative and self-awareness. This is where you start to create your life!

When you focus on things you can influence, you expand your knowledge and experience. You build trustworthiness and your circle of influence grows. You can choose to go through the motions in life, or you can be proactive and create the future that you want.

Where are you focusing your energy? Take a look at the Circle of Concern / Circle of Influence below. What does your circle of concern look like? Draw up your own. Put what you worry about in the circle of concern and then build your circle of influence. These are the things you can control. 

Use it to work out what you worry about unnecessarily, and put this up where you can see it. Remember always to shift your focus back to your 'Circle of Influence', the things in life you have the control over to change.

What action are you going to take to move you closer to your goals?

This is taken from the Mindset Reset Workbook -  for more workbooks and advice visit our store.

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