22 Apr Control What You Can Control
In my coaching practice, I train men who are recovering from divorce or catastrophic breakup to focus on three essential pillars of personal improvement:
- Health and Physical Fitness
- Career and Financial Fitness
- Social and Sexual Fitness
With a little bit of analysis, it isn’t too difficult to demonstrate how these three pillars interact with and influence each other in significant ways.
Even so, from time to time a case comes along that’s extremely challenging. The individual has fallen so deep into hopelessness that there isn’t really very much I can do to help yet. I always recommend in these circumstances that the individual seek out professional therapy (I’m a coach, not a therapist), and if necessary medical attention.
But I can, and do, give them at least a small sample of something they can get their hands on and implement right away. And that something is a simple factor that everyone; entrepreneurs, parents, men, women…anyone; can focus on to achieve small victories every day.
These factors are actually components of the Three Pillars I mentioned above. They boil down simply into focusing on what you can control in your life.
It turns out there are lots of things we can’t control. We can’t control the weather. We can’t control what politicians do. We can’t control what anyone else on the planet does. We can’t control the economy. We can’t control what people think of us.
But we can control these things:
What you put in your mouth.
The first factor we can control is what we put in our mouths. Fundamental to everything in personal improvement is good health, and we are the only ones who can dictate what we choose to eat.
There is no law anywhere in our society that dictates what you eat, where you eat, or how much you eat. In North America and Europe, the vast majority of us have access to grocery stores. Those stores are filled with choices. Not requirements. Choices.
You, and only you, can decide what you use to fuel your body.
How you move your body.
Along with what you choose to eat is how you choose to move your body. You’re the only one who can decide this. Are you going to sit still at your desk all day? Are you going to choose to get up and stretch every 45 minutes? Are you going to exercise daily, or hit the snooze button five or six times?
We’d like to believe that pain, chronic fatigue, stress, or work all prevent us from moving. But they don’t. You don’t need me to tell you that you need to exercise. You know this. What I will tell you is that not exercising is exactly as conscious a choice as exercising. You, and only you, control how you move your body.
How you spend your time.
What do you spend your time doing every day? Is it work? Sleep? Self-improvement? Self-deprecation?
It’s your time. Even if we assume you spend one third of your day sleeping, and the other third exchanging time and effort for money, what are you doing the other eight hours?
I would, in many cases, argue that you have 16 hours every day that you can control. You may need to work but it’s ultimately up to you if you want to do that or not. Still, I understand that for many people — especially those still in a state of struggle — insisting on controlling the work day is a big step. That’s fine (for now).
The other eight hours? Those are yours. How will you spend them moving forward? Watching TV? Arguing on social media? Learning a new skill? Reading a book? Writing a book?
You have more time than you think. What you do with it is actually up to you.
How you spend your money.
Nobody can tell you what to do with your money. Nobody.
I’ll grant that once you have a place to live, you have to pay for it. Food, shelter, utilities, and taxes are necessary expenditures. But the rest of your money? Only you control how it gets spent, or if it gets spent at all.
Along with how you spend is encapsulated how you MAKE your money. Your money stream or cash flow is entirely under your control. You don’t have to just bring in what your job pays — you could market other skills you may have. You don’t have to spend money on a mobile phone upgrade you don’t need — you could probably get by with the same phone for three or four years, or longer.
It’s your money. Learn how it works, and control it.
Who you spend your time with.
This one is so basic it’s really shocking to me that people don’t think about it more often.
There’s no rule when it comes to who you must spend your time with. Obviously if you have a family that should be your first choice. But when dealing with friends or acquaintances, there’s no rule.
You’ve probably heard it said that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Look at your social circle. Are the driven, motivated, positive people who hold you up and encourage you? Or are they people stuck in the same rut at the same economic and social level you’re trying to escape?
It’s fine to be cordial with people you’ve known for a long time, but pay close attention. If they start telling you your goals are out of reach, or that your ambition is “selling out,” you need to take control of how much time you spend with them. You’re the only one who can dictate what kind of circle you belong to.
How you treat people you spend time with.
People judge you on all sorts of levels. They judge how you look, how you write, how you speak. But the one thing that will stick with them and leave the most indelible mark on their memory of you is how you treat them.
You know how to be nice to people. You know how to be ethical. You also know how to be a grubbing little prick. What’s the legacy you’d like to leave in all your relationships?
Nobody can control how you treat others. Sure, you can blame your actions and your attitude on all sorts of external factors, but at the end of the day your behavior and your actions are exclusively the domain of your own control. It’s entirely up to you how you treat people — and it’s entirely up to them how they remember your interactions.
What will you choose to do?
Author, blogger, marketing coordinator, and devoted dad, Steve Baric (Twitter https://twitter.com/SteveBaric1) is a Digital Marketing Strategist, Change Management Expert, and Corporate Trainer. As a coach, he is dedicated to helping newly divorced men regain control of their destinies by regaining control of their outlooks and lives.