At times in our lives we have all been there.
Our problems, issues, relationships in fact life in general seem positively overwhelming.
We seem to be bombarded from all sides. We lay awake at night wrestling with our demons. We don’t know what to do first or how to fight our way through the tangle of our minds.
We feel shell-shocked.
Let me offer a solution that is remarkably simple – and incredibly effective.
The Circle of Influence is a method where we can separate out the issues and problems in our lives into three distinct compartments.
• Total control
• Limited control or influence
• No control or influence – no matter how much we shout and scream
There are three stages to the exercise.
Write a numbered list out of everything that is keeping you awake at night or that worries and troubles you. The order isn’t important. Just include everything that you can think of. Nothing is too small.
Now, on another piece of blank paper draw three circles inside each other – like a bulls eye.
The very centre of the circle are the things that you have total and absolute control over. As a simple example you may worry about what to cook for supper each evening – but it is totally within your control.
The middle ring is for the things that you might be able to exert some control or influence over. So you might owe some money to a building society. But if you discuss it with them you could reach an agreement about how this can be repaid.
The outside ring is for those things that you cannot alter, change or effect. For instance your employers may have taken a decision that affects you and you don’t like. But you can’t change it.
Now look at each item on your list and place the number somewhere within the three circles. The nearer the middle the more they are things that you can deal with easily.
The further out towards the edges – you can go outside the circle if you want – the less you can influence the actual problem.
Now look at the spread of items in your circle. The ones right on the outside are things that you can’t change. So you must deal with them. But there is no point spending lots of time and energy trying to change them. You simply can’t.
As you get nearer the centre you can start to isolate those matters where it is worth devoting your time and resources. They are things that you can deal with yourself or where you can possible help change to happen.
This exercise helps us to clear our minds and create focus.
Don’t spend time and effort trying to change the unchangeable. You have to deal with it but that requires a different mindset.
Focus instead on where you can be most productive.
Give it a try and let me know what you think.