Stephen Covey in his very famous book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Peopleintroduced the concept of locus of control.
We spend most of our day thinking about and discussing various ideas, thoughts, actions, constraints or problems and challenges or opportunities that predominantly fall in three concentric circles.
1) Circle of Control
These are things that are solely in your control and there is no dependency on anyone. Eg: Your choice of Workout, Clothes, Food , Hobby etc
2)Circle of Influence
These are things you have predominant influence over in your life, but there may be dependencies and hence subject to uncertainties of life or others people’s preferences/wishes etc. Eg: Your choice of Spouse(so long as she/he chooses you as well), your Vacation Plans (subject to availability and also consensus choices when not travelling solo), Your health(subject to environmental externalities), Your Finances(subject to economic conditions of country, chosen industry etc.)
3) Circle of Concern
These are things that affect your life on a everyday basis, but you have very little say in this Eg: National Budget Deficits, Weather, Tax rates/policies, Stock markets, noisy neighbors etc
There are also things that do not affect us at all, but many people seem to be concerned about like Will this movie be a success, when will that star get married, Will ‘xyz’ nation declare war on ‘abc’ nation. This certainly could affect the lives of some people but for most of us it is just another breaking news that has no impact in our lives.
All of us spend some time in each of these circles. But it is critical to analyze how much time we spend in each of the circles.
“Where your time goes,
there your future comes.
That on which you invest your time, grows.” – Mahatria Ra.
Better use of Time and Energy:
Since both time and energy are limited resources, the better use of your time and energy is to start with your circle of control.
The good news is that by focusing more and more of energy in your circle of control, you get more influence in your circle of influence as well.
For Eg: By eating right and working out, you get better control of your health, by taking care of your appearance and conduct, you get good/better dates, by focusing on learning and working , you move on to better roles, better salaries etc.
Master of My Fate : Expanding your circles
As long as you spend maximum of your energy in the first two circles, you can be in charge of your life. By acting more responsibly in these two circles, you may even expand your circle of influence to include things that were once only in your circle of concern. For Eg: By standing for elections and winning it you may be able to change the fate of your locality/city/state/country, become a business or investment magnate big enough to sway the market etc.
This process cannot be reverse engineered. If you spend more time thinking about who in bollywood is dating who, why the selection committee picked that good for nothing player, when RBI will reduce rates, where are the markets headed after the budget or when will Rupee gain/lose over Dollar…you would not have much time left to attend to the important things in life that you can actually do something about.
Some Tips to Stay in the centre circles
-> Limit the amount of news you consume. Most of the breaking news that goes on in your news channel has no impact whatso ever in our lives. We would be better off spending that time on other important things.
->Be Aware. We are creatures of habit and we tend to do what we have always done. But the act of being aware can make the most meaningful changes in our life. Just to start with note down various conversations you have and which cicle they fall into and this will automatically lead to course corrections where necessary.
->For everything that is in your circle of concern or influence think about what action that you can take in your circle of control, that will make things better. For Eg: You may have no influence over tax rates, but you can consult a financial consultant to see how best you can save taxes in the existing policies or even brain storm to improve your income, where the additional tax is probably of no consequence to you.
->Our circle of friends/peers are some key influencers in the conversations we have. If your conversations you have are not in the realm of useful or productive, you may have to re look at the kind of company you keep.
So which circle are you spending most of your time and energy on ? What steps can you take to tilt the more to the centre. If your life is not where you hoped it would be, this is one of the most important questions you could ever answer !!