You only have so much time and energy to spend each day. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to exhaust your resources on anything that you can’t influence. Worrying about the rain won’t make it stop. Being annoyed by the fact that you’re only 5’ 2” tall isn’t going to cause you to grow.
However, we spend much of our time and energy in negative emotional states over issues that are beyond our control.
Most of the negative thoughts you have each day are analogous to being upset over the weather. There’s simply nothing you can do about it. You’re only upsetting yourself needlessly.
There are really only two things you can control:
- Your actions
- Your thoughts
The time you spend “doing” and “thinking” is all that you can manipulate. You can choose what food you put in your mouth and how much you exercise. You can choose whether you watch TV or clean the house. You control whether you apologize to someone or not.
You can choose to think happy thoughts or thoughts that make you unhappy.
When you focus on what you can influence, you’ll find that you can accomplish so much more!
Use these strategies to keep your attention on what you can do today:
- At the beginning of each hour, ask yourself how you can best spend the next 60 minutes. How can you use the next hour to your advantage? Asking this question will keep your mind in a productive mode. Ask yourself what you can do today that will matter.
- When you catch yourself worrying, ask yourself if this is something you can control. If you can’t do anything about it, steer your attention to something else. Learn to either focus on solutions or to let go of the situation. This approach just takes practice. The more you do it, the easier it gets!
- Be aware of your goals. Without something to point your focus toward, you’re more likely to spend your time worrying about things beyond your ability to influence. Knowing your goals will help you determine how to spend your time wisely.
- Know the difference between influence and control. For example, you can influence others, but you can’t control them. Use your influence wisely but recognize the limits.
- Center your thinking on solutions. Are you seeking answers or wallowing in your problems? Mentally rehashing the past accomplishes little. Using your incredible brain power to solve challenges is a great use of your time. When you catch yourself thinking too much, ask yourself if you’re thinking wisely.
- Review each day. Each evening, reflect on your day. How much did you accomplish? Were your thoughts and actions productive? Or did you waste time on things beyond your control? When you spend time on this important activity, you’ll notice your behavior and choices beginning to shift.
Much of life is beyond your control. From the decisions made by the CEO of your company to global warming, there are many things in life that you can’t control to a significant degree.
However, there are a few things that you can control completely. This is where your time, thoughts, and energy can do the most good.
Avoid focusing on circumstances that you simply can’t influence. Why upset yourself further when no solution exists? The greatest gift you have is your attention. Put it to the best possible use.