Have you ever been so frustrated about the lack of results in a certain area of your life that you want to just give up?
When you’re trying to stretch yourself into a new level of financial freedom, creativity, health or intimacy in your relationships, things don’t always work out the way we thought they would. Today, we’re going to focus on a powerful concept that is often overlooked yet is perhaps the first step of creating a life you love: understanding what you can control.
I don’t want you to think that you’re about to receive the silver bullet, but if there was one – this is the closest thing there is to a silver bullet. Understanding and focusing on what you can control.
It seems like such a simple concept, yet most of us don’t put it into practice. We confuse and overwhelm ourselves thinking that we have to control everything. We control other people’s reactions by thinking that if we do, say or be a certain way, other people will be happy. We try to control our results by thinking that things should turn out the way I want them to and if they don’t, it’s terrible. You might be nodding your head saying, “May, that’s how the world works or that’s how people work.” While our actions do have a consequence, we’re going to go a step further today and say that our actions do have a consequence, but can you know with absolute certainty that the consequence will occur the way you expected?
People’s reactions? That’s not 100% certain. You can’t absolutely know that if you do, be or say something someone will react the way that you expect them to react.
Outcomes? That’s not 100% certain. You can’t absolutely know that if you do something that the outcome will turn out to be what you had desired.
If you can’t control the outcome or the people around you, what can you control? You can control what you believe about your actions. You can control that you believe that behaving this way is the right thing to do even if it doesn’t work out with this person. You can believe that someone at some point will appreciate your kindness, compassion and commitment. You can believe that this is helping you become a better person and that person you said you wanted to be.
What about the outcomes? You can control what you do. Often, I’ll have an intention for something that I’m planning and I know that it might not work out the way I planned. Most businesses become something completely different than what they started with. Most people look vastly different in terms of their lives in 5 or 10 years. Our jobs change, our lives change, and our worlds can completely change in the course of a day, week or month. How do we know that what is happening isn’t actually happening for us? How do we know that our plan is better?
I’ll often ask myself what results I want to have and what I do I have to do to get there. What I do is within my control? This is why I work so much on my mind and my body. When I exercise, it teaches me that my behaviors matter. Your behavior does matter, and it can change the course of your entire life if it is aligned with what you value. This is also why I teach so much on mindfulness, mental models and energy. If we’re feeling stuck, low or confused – we often don’t do what we need to have the results we’re looking for. But if we’re feeling optimistic and calm, we’ll often persist or get creative about another opportunity we could pursue or another way to look at the problem we’re facing.
This all comes down to what I believe about a situation. I can control that I believe that this is possible and that I can do it. Or you can believe that it’s not possible, and why bother. One belief doesn’t actually take more energy than the other. It takes as much energy to feel low as it does to feel high. The difference is what we are able to do and how much we get to contribute when we feel low versus high.
The other day I was out with the family and I was tired. I had several nights of not sleeping very much and it was hitting the afternoon period when I normally feel the effects of a lack of sleep. We were going out to a cenote, which is a natural fresh-water pool made by caverns in the earth. The water there can be much cooler as a result of not being as exposed to the sun or the ocean. We were having trouble figuring out which cenote to go to and when we got there, realized we had been there before. We were looking to try a new one so we started to think maybe we should turn around and go find a different one. But it was getting late and we were running out of time because all the cenotes were closing. I realized in that moment, that my belief that this wasn’t a worthwhile activity to do because I was tired and didn’t want to go swim in cold water was driving my behavior to not just decide and say, “Let’s just go to this one!” I was hesitating because I didn’t really want to do it.
Now in this example, I didn’t think I had to do it either. What would I have changed about my behavior if I believed I had to do it and that I was going to do it? I would have been more decisive. Our lack of decision making, often comes from the thing we can control. Our belief. We believe we want to, but when you dig down deeper – you believe that it’s not really worth it or that it doesn’t really matter.
The question I would ask then is this, “what do you believe about the thing that you’re looking to do in your life?” What can you actually control? The answer to that question. What you believe and what you do with that belief. I knew that if I was at least aware of my beliefs that I could still take the actions to move forward with the results I”m looking to have in my life and that my beliefs would eventually catch up. That’s a topic for another day, but if you can’t believe that you’re absolutely certain it can happen, you can believe that your belief will eventually change after you take action and do what you know to do.
This in turn, simplifies your life dramatically. Do what you know to do, believe what you know to believe. Work on those two things incessantly and you will have a life that constantly surprises you. This is what it takes to be consistently successful and joyful. I would not have had half of the amazing results I’ve had in my life, like my work and my health and my level of satisfaction in my relationships and of life overall – if I didn’t practice these two things. Do what you know to do. Believe what you know to believe.
These are the things you can actually control so take a step back today and reflect on how focused you are on the question, “what can I actually control?” It’s really important to notice where this isn’t happening and what you’re experiencing as a result so that you can make the shift towards a more empowered way of living and of succeeding.
That’s it for this week my friends. Let me know what results you’re looking to achieve and how this has helped in the process. This might even help you get to the results you’re looking for most.
If you’d like to go even further, in this month’s Leadership group coaching, we’ll be covering how to reclaim our power, move into the energy of possibilities and take the steps towards uncovering what we are trying to control that is keeping us from what we want most. If you enjoy these kinds of topics, you can go to www.mayempson.com/contact to learn more.