Whenever we (humans) complain about something, we’re capable of actively influencing or eliminating the cause of complaint 9 out of 10 times – or maybe even more often

The problem is that it's much easier to complain and blame what we feel are outside factors for the frustrations that we encounter in our lives, professional as well as private

However, I don't think that's a viable path forward, blaming the world (basically) for all of our problems

At a point in my life I was like this; feeling frustrated about the world, my colleagues, my family and basically all around me, and I realized that I had to do something as this for sure could not continue; I was not happy at all

I started seeing a professional management coach and she introduced me to the universe of Stephen Covey and the habits - I'm not going to write about any of these here (even though everyone should know of them) but I'll bring forward the tool that made the single biggest difference for me; the Circle of Influence

In essence, the Circle of Influence is three circles inside each other, the center circle illustrating the things in life that are under your control, the middle illustrating the things that you can influence and the outer circle the things that you cannot even influence

The revelation came for me when I realized that most of the things that frustrated me (if not all) actually were in my control to change but I just hadn't seen them as changeable before

Which is the point of this article; three simple steps to make your work and personal life easier

1. Understand your circle of influence

First you must understand your circle of influence – you physically need to draw it with the elements in your professional and / or private life that frustrates you and that you wish you could ‘do something about’

Add the things in your direct control to the center of the drawing and place the things you don’t feel you can do anything about in the outer rings

2. Expand your zone of control

Once you’ve done this, take a look at the issues placed outside the center and give them a hard think – if you, for example, have placed “wife don’t understand me” as a grievance outside your control, think again

Same goes for ‘crazy boss’ – it might seem outside your control, but in fact it isn't

Think about it, the wife can be dealt with (a hard choice, but still a choice you can make) and the same goes for the crazy boss – s/he too can be dealt with by you finding another job

I’m not saying these choices are easy choices, I’m pointing out that it's actually choices that are within your controls and therefore should be INSIDE your circle of influence

If you then don't do anything about it is, you will know it's a deliberate choice that you've made and therefore you should not see it as a grievance – but accept it (and move on)

3. Accept that you've chosen not to change what you could change

“(…) grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”
Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr


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