With the year wrapping up and the New Year on the horizon, this time of the year can be jam packed with to-dos, obligations and worries, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and seriously burned out. (Not to mention the added fun of navigating the holidays with family during a pandemic!) Luckily, there’s a simple strategy that will help you combat stress and take back your focus in 2021.
When we have too many problems competing for space in our heads — too many things we’re trying desperately to control — we can’t focus on anything. It leads to less satisfaction and more overwhelm. We become scattered, distracted, frazzled. Our performance suffers. Our sense of possibility buckles under the weight of our own fear and panic.
So, what’s the solution? Use the concept of Span of Control to streamline your concerns.
By determining what is never in your Span of Control and learning to focus only on what you can control right now, you can reduce the noise that’s taking up your precious mental space, regain your focus and enhance your impact.
First, let’s take a look at a few things that are always outside of your Span of Control:
1. Other people
Don’t waste energy on worrying about others — the only thoughts and actions you can control are your own. Let it go!
2. The past
We all have regrets, but you definitely can’t change the past. What’s done is done. Learn from it. Move on.
3. What-if scenarios
Ever lie awake at night running through every possible worst-case scenario in your mind as if doing so would prevent them from happening?? Being thoughtful about possible outcomes is always advisable, but not when you endlessly spin your wheels, become anxious and never take action.
4. World crises
There are a lot of chaotic, scary things in the world right now — however, you’re not going to single-handedly solve COVID overnight (and certainly not by worrying about it). That isn’t to say we shouldn’t help how we can, but don’t allow it to constantly sap your focus and energy when there are more immediate needs at hand.
Now that you’ve identified what’s NEVER in your Span of Control, let’s look at what IS:
When everything feels out of control, you always have control over your thoughts and attitude.
2. Your future
You can’t change the past, but the future is yours for the taking. The goals you set. The choices you make. Life is shapeable in so many ways. You can make decisions today that will help you further down the road.
3. Your actions
Changing your behavior will have the greatest influence on your current and future situation. Your actions are the catalyst for changing your circumstances. Just. Take. Action.
4. Your community
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and frustrated by some of the world’s big problems, effecting change in your local community will help make the problems feel more manageable (and make a difference that matters!).
When we’re confused about what we can and can’t control, the pressures of life can become almost unbearable. But when we cut out all the distractions and focus on only the things we can control, we open ourselves up to a world of possibilities.
Much like a garden filled with weeds, it’s only by plucking out what’s choking the fruits of your labor that you will grow into your full potential.