Focusing on what you can control

I have had my moments over the last two months where I have felt out of control and have been angry, sad, despondent – you name it!

However, after doing some self reflection, I came to a realisation that I was spending most of my time focusing on all the things I couldn’t control, such as the actions of others, the future, the government, what organisations are doing, etc… and I realised that focussing on these worries made me feel out of control. I decided to use a tool to help me change my mindset to focus on the things that I can control and influence. Since I did this, I have felt a lot more motivated, I have created some great content for my business, and at work, and I have just felt much better overall. 

How did I do this? 

I used a tool called the Circles of Influence and Concern which was created by Stephen Covey. He used two circles, the Circle of Concern and the Circle of Influence in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I use a slight variation from Covey’s model which adds a third circle, the Circle of Control. After doing some research I couldn’t find out who created the adapted model (if you know please let me know!).

The model I used consists of: 

  • The outer circle is the Circle of Concern, in this circle are the things that you have no control over such as the economy or the weather. 
  • The middle circle is called the Circle of Influence, in this circle are the things where your actions may influence others actions such as voting or speaking up for others.
  • The inner circle is called the Circle of Concern, which are things that you can control such as your own behaviour or what media you consume. 

See a few more examples in the diagram:

The idea with this tool is that if you spend too much time focusing on the outer circle, the things that you have no control over, then you waste your energy and become negative and reactive. It also means that you shrink the two inner circles as your energy is spent on things you have no control over.  

Whereas if you focus your time and energy on the Circles of Influence and Control, you become more positive, are proactive and others may see you as influential (more likely to listen to you, learn from you etc) and in response your Circles of Influence and Control are likely to grow bigger.

What I did was, I sat down and spent some time brainstorming and listing all of the things that related to each of the circles. I made sure that I gave myself enough time to really think about each of the circles and how I could influence and control my current situation.

Why did I find the tool useful? 

  • Once I completed the tool, I realised that there actually was a lot of things I had control over 
  • I realised that I had a far reaching influence and probably wasn’t using my influence as much as could
  • It also reminded me that I feel strongly about the ability to influence, particularly as a Social Worker in the Child Protection field – influence is a key skill that helps in a number of ways! 
  • It helped me to refocus my thoughts and energy
  • It got me feeling more motivated to help others and get on and do my work
  • It reminded me that I can speak up and try and influence outcomes

I’ve developed a free printable download to use as a template if you would like to run through this yourself. 

If you are are feeling stuck in your career and are needing more support then check out my program The Practitioner Passion Project which starts on the 6th July.

What do you think of the tool? Comment below and let me know

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  1. Thanks Liz, I have a couple of people that I am currently working with that this resource will be useful for. Kia kaha. I am not sure who added to theory re the Circle of Control but will ask around.

    1. Liz Andrew-Brake says:

      Thanks Madeleine, I’m pleased it might be useful for some people. Yes please if you happen to find out who added the third circle I would appreciate it!

  2. Hey Liz, I am doing a live chat on grief and for the notes afterwards I would like to include this blog. Hope you are ok with that. I will send you the link once we have edited it. Will include your web site as a resource if that ok.

    1. Liz Andrew-Brake says:

      Sounds great! Happy for this post to be shared

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