I am a firm believer in the saying “strike a balance”. However, I try not to dwell too much on events beyond my control. My gardener taught me that!
When I asked him how he knew the plants would grow well, he replied, “I’m good at what I do, but I’m never sure if the plants will grow well. I can only control how I care for them, not the outcome. I do my job well and leave the rest to nature.
In a way, he focuses on the control circle.
Do you remember how many hours, days or years we spend thinking and worrying about things we cannot control? Just think, how thinking like a gardener can make a huge positive difference in our lives.
If you want to stop feeling powerless and take back control of your life, read this article with insightful information on how to use the Circle of Control to your advantage.
What is a circle of control?
The book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey encouraged this way of thinking where the focus should be on the circle of control. According to Covey, all problems fall into one of two rings:
- The circle of concern represents everything that bothers or concerns us. We do not have much influence on these issues.
- The circle of influence represents everything we can control or influence in some way. While your circle of influence is usually contained within your circle of concern, you still cannot change an area of concern.
The only thing you can control is the effort you put into it – just like my Gardner!
Where should you focus your energy?
The model helps us identify where we should focus our time and energy. The inner circle is the circle of influence and the outer circle is the circle of concern. As your circle of influence expands, your circle of concern shrinks, and conversely, as your circle of influence shrinks, your circle of concern expands.
Focusing your energy on things you can change will help you make more effective adjustments. It increases your circle of influence. But when you focus your energy on things beyond your control, the circle of influence shrinks.
Thinking about all the things you have no control over is a waste of time. You focus your time, energy, and peace of mind on such things, and you never have enough time to focus on the positive aspects of growth, hope, and confidence.
You will find that people avoid association with people who are always talking about the wrong things in life.
So what should be done?
You should focus your energy on the things you control. Things you can influence and have an impact on. If you want to live a fulfilling life, these things should be your focus. Work on what you can do and stop worrying about things that are out of your control.
People with a high circle of influence are considered positive influences. On the other hand, people will avoid you when you have a low circle of influence because you are seen as a negative influence.
Circle of care, influence, and control
Let’s dive a little deeper into understanding by studying the three circles:
- circle of concern
- Circle of influence
- Circle of Control
Let’s start with what is important to an individual. This is called the ‘Circle of Settings’ and covers all of the ‘Big Three’ areas.
circle of concern
A simple graphic representation makes it clear that your circle of attention includes everything external, such as war, politics, epidemics, and weather. It represents everything that is important to a person. This consists of factors that affect and control a person.
The circle of concern always contains by its very nature many things outside of a person’s influence or control. For example, many people are concerned about the weather and how it affects their daily lives, but they have little control over it.
Circle of influence
Since humans are social animals, a person’s circle of concern can be influenced by others. This is their circle of influence, and it has to do with the quality of their relationships and their conversations with others.
The behavior of your team, your company’s work culture, your promotion prospects, etc. are examples of the circle of influence. You may be concerned about long working hours (the circle of worry), and how to reduce the workload that falls into the circle of influence.
The Circle of Influence is a great tool for effectively directing your time and energy. It has the potential to improve your performance, personal growth, and overall enjoyment of life.
Circle of Control
A circle of control involves how you respond to these external circumstances. Your thoughts, your attitudes, and your enthusiasm make up the circle of control. You have the power to control these.
‘Control,’ refers to what can happen directly to us as a result of our decisions, whether others agree or not. Only we can join our circle of control in this way, and even then, only our conscious self. What is the reason behind this?
‘Control’, from an ontological perspective, is inextricably linked to a conscious decision. ‘Control = Awareness + Choice,’ as the saying goes. As a result, a person can only control parts of the way they know.
We usually behave without conscious discussion of how we act and play out well-worn patterns of behavior because much of what we do is habitual, or what we call “transparent” in the ontological perspective.
Acting this way implies that we are acting outside of our immediate control. It’s important to remember that habits are more than just physical behaviors. They also include how we perceive and interpret our surroundings.
Consequently, the greater our capacity for self-awareness, the greater our ability to command our existence.
Read this article – Avoiding victim mentality through recovery
Why is the circle of control important?
Focusing on the Circle of Control allows you to keep your mood healthy. In other words, you can expect better mental health when you focus your life only on the things that are within your control.
Today it becomes clear that most of our time and energy should be focused on activities within our sphere of influence.
We need to be aware of our circle of influence and spend a fair amount of time there. Daily, we need to connect with other people and communities; We must pay close attention.
On the other hand, the circle of anxiety should be ignored. We should try not to control it. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
This mindset is simply not helpful for dealing with anxiety. It’s also a good rule to follow in many areas of your life. What better approach to being productive than spending less time doing things you can’t control?
Here are three reasons why the circle of control is important:
Proactive Mindset vs. Reactive Mindset
Active people (who you like to hang out with) Always scout for people with a high circle of influence. Reactive people succumb to their negative thoughts in response to external events.
Developing a proactive mindset is critical to improving your focus and productivity and developing more connections.
You may have heard the saying “like attracts like.”
Active people (who you like to hang out with) Always scout for people with a high circle of influence. They distance themselves from those who bring negativity. If you want to attract all the good things in life, it is important to understand what kind of circle of influence you have and bring about the necessary changes in looking at life.
Proactive people stay away from people who bring negativity. If you want to attract all the good things in life, it is important to understand what kind of circle of influence you have and bring about the necessary changes in looking at life.
Increase focus and productivity
When you know where to look and where to focus, you automatically reduce your anxiety. In the process, you become more productive because you stop worrying about things that are out of your control.
Greater focus is another advantage of using the control circle. Your undivided attention is on the important things – the things you can control! As a result, you become more effective and efficient in all areas of life.
Improving mental health
The hardest part of thinking about ambiguous situations is when you start spiraling. Your mind replays the worst-case scenario, making you feel worse.
This is where deciding on a plan of action that you can control can be helpful. Doing something creative, in my experience, requires you to focus on the task and breaks the cycle. It also helps you release some stress by engaging in physical activity.
The most important benefit of worrying less is happiness. That is, at the very least, something worth pursuing. So, pause for a moment and consider your options. How much time do you devote to your circle of influence?
Read this article – What can you do to beat boredom?
How to apply the circle of control to life?
After learning about the Circle of Circle, Concern, and Influence, you may wonder how to begin implementing it in life.
Being educated about different aspects of life is helpful because you have prior knowledge of how to deal with the situation.
- When you feel anxious or begin to worry about external events, you can shift your mind to focus on things within your control. You have already learned that things beyond your control are not worth thinking about or worrying about.
- When you feel overwhelmed you can begin to identify your focus and priorities in life. It allows you to focus on what’s important to you and reminds you why you need to maintain mental balance.
- When something unplanned or uncontrollable happens, like an epidemic, focus on what you can influence and control.
- Try to relate the last three years of your life or the time when the pandemic shook the world. Was it within our control? That’s not it!
But many people let negativity take hold of their minds. Instead of focusing on what they can control, they start worrying about worst-case scenarios.
In such cases, the only thing one can do is to be extra careful and stay safe with social distancing. It alone had the power to rule. Anything beyond that was cause for concern.
People who focus more on the circle of control are more confident and have a positive outlook on life. They reflect hope and growth.
But if we focus on the circle of concern, our fears and “what if” thoughts can overwhelm us. People are panicking about plague, war rumors, economy, weather, death etc. All this is taken into account in our circle of attention.
When we focus on issues beyond our control, we become more stressed and prone to blame, anxiety, anger, and victimization.
If you want to apply the circle of control in life, learn to focus on the things you can control.
How to expand your circle of control?
The first thing you need to understand is why you want to expand the circle of control. You have learned that applying the circle of control is important in life. But that is only the first step.
If you want to live a positive life, you need to expand your circle of control. This will not be easy as you will need to change your belief systems and lifestyle.
However, you can follow these steps to make things easier.
Find your purpose
When trying to expand your circle of control, you need to focus on finding your purpose. Whatever you believe is your sense of purpose. Your driving force, motivation, and guiding light is striving for a life that you believe will fulfill you.
Your sense of meaning is inextricably linked to your purpose in life. The only difference is that you have the same goal in life. However, not all areas of life have the same sense of purpose. However, they are all compatible.
At first, you should start with a broad goal. This is a more general direction for your life. The first thing you need to do is decide your life mission. This will help you keep everything else in your life in line with this broader goal of harmony.
For example, if your overall life goal is to become more peaceful, you will try to achieve that goal in every aspect of your life. You will want to maintain positive relationships with your family.
You’ll want to do something about work that improves your mental health rather than impairing it. A stable source of wealth is an important part of your ambitions and will translate into your purpose.
Break your own limiting beliefs
Your belief system can be your greatest asset (or your greatest obstacle). If your belief system is limiting or biased, your growth will be limited.
If you want to improve your circle of control, you need to broaden your perspectives. You must constantly challenge your thinking to check if there is any room to expand the sphere of influence.
There are times when our belief systems limit our growth. Such limiting beliefs are enemies to widening the circle of control. If you want to break your limiting beliefs, be brave enough to take action, because this is the next step to a great life.
Develop a growth mindset
There are many benefits to developing a growth mindset. It encourages you to be curious, and keep learning, and turn obstacles into opportunities. Ultimately, it will help you steadily expand your circles of influence and control.
People with a growth mindset feel that they can improve their skills and intelligence. They believe that people have innate skills and qualities and that personal growth is essential to success.
On the other hand, fixed-minded people feel that skills and intelligence are things you either have or don’t have.
If you want to develop a growth mindset, start by understanding your current situation. If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know where you’re going. Investigate why you want to adopt a growth mindset and look for examples of people who have adopted a growth mindset.
Good things happen when you focus all your energies on the positive aspects of life. As a summary of the entire write-up, remember that when you learn to focus on the Circle of Control, you are training your mind to develop a positive attitude toward life.
A life that reflects hope and faith and shines with nothing but optimism. You can use the above action tips to adapt the control circle.