You, like everyone else, have things you want to create in your life.
I have found that one of the key factors that determines whether you will get it or not is how you treat the process of achieving it.
Do you worry about all that could go wrong at each step, or do you trust that everything will work out?
Do you beat yourself up for not doing things perfectly, or do you treat it like an adventure to be enjoyed?
Do you celebrate the lessons you learn along the way, or are you anxious that it isn’t happening sooner?
As you can imagine, having a positive attitude about the process can make the difference between sticking with it and succeeding, and burning out and quitting.
Today, I want to help you learn how to be a skilled and positive leader of whatever process you are currently navigating.
It can boil down to your relationship to one word: Control.
Control can be a friend or foe. On one hand, you need to exert some level of control to take action and get what you want:
You thoroughly prepare for an interview because you want to get hired.
You dress nicely for a date because you want to have the person like you.
You eat good foods because you want to control how your body looks.
Some of us throw up our hands and feel like we don’t have any control over these situations. Like no matter how hard we try, we have no control over what we eat or if we get the job. We are “powerless."
Is this you? If so, then you likely feel resigned and hopelessness, and the journey feels pointless. Why bother when it won’t work out?
On the other hand, there is such a thing as trying to exert too much control. People who suffer from
this “control enthusiasm” try to be in control of every last aspect of the process. If this is you, then you likely:
Beat yourself up when you don’t do things perfectly.
Worry about what can go wrong and obsess about how to prevent it.
Get angry when people don’t behave how you want them to.
Don’t believe that anything will happen unless you force it to.
Is this you? If you are a control enthusiast, you get frustrated, annoyed, and overwhelmed when the process doesn’t go as you would like it to, and so you run the risk of burning out or having anxiety attacks.
It turns out that if you look at how control relates to results in your life (see the accompanying figure above) there really is a sweet spot in the middle. In this zone, you step up and take the actions you can, but also accept and embrace the unpredictable.
Where do you fall on this chart? Here’s are some tips for how to land in the middle.
For the Control Enthusiasts:
1. Focus on your core values, not on the results
Accept that you have control over your actions, but not necessarily the results. If your actions align with your core values and beliefs, then you should be proud. For example, let’s say that you are interested in dating a certain person. You value honesty, and so you let them know the real you. No matter what the other person decides, you can be proud that you had integrity to what you value.
2. Admit that you are not God
You may think that you know what the best decision is, but how can you be so sure? If you look at the best parts of your life right now, I would bet that it isn’t because you did a great job of controlling it. When you met your spouse, was it because you categorically went through a list of 50 people and picked the best one? Or was it because your friend convinced you to go to a party and you happened to bump into them there? Some of the best things in life happen in ways that you NEVER could have planned yourself. And that is a beautiful thing.
For the Resigned Powerless:
1. Find your patterns and see your role
Just because you haven’t gotten the results you want doesn’t mean that you don’t have some control over the process. It just means that you are doing things the same way and getting the same results. You may think that there are no good single men in your city, but take a look instead at how you pick partners. What about the "unavailable type” is so appealing to you? I promise that behind every area where you feel like you don’t have control, you are actually making plenty of choices that keep you stuck in the status quo.
2. Admit that you sorta like it
Ok, I know that you don’t actually like being powerless, but it sure has some benefits. If you believe yourself to be powerless, then that is a great excuse to stop trying, to not do things that make you uncomfortable, or to “be nice to yourself” by taking a break. All of which can sound much more appealing than getting back up on the horse and trying again… except it won’t get you the results you want. Admitting that you are “getting something” from being powerless can help you see that being powerless is actually a choice, not a truth.
Which of these tips will you take to heart as you navigate the way to get what you want in your life? Do you need to let go of control, or embrace it?