Whether we are overweight or we look fit and trim to the outside world, that flabby, out-of-shape feeling hits everyone from time to time. However, if we are eating healthy and exercising regularly, we don’t have that feeling, no matter how we look.
Similarly, no matter the state of a person’s career, whether they are soaring to new heights or working in a dead-end job, there are days the rising star feels insecure, trapped, and demotivated, while the people in no-future jobs, working for crappy organizations, feel in control and positive about what’s ahead.
How does this work?
The secret is understanding the most important mental strategy used by productive, successful, effective people. Whether they know the strategy explicitly or not, they are using it to get ahead while maintaining mental health and a positive outlook.
If you have ever heard of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, perhaps the most popular personal effectiveness book ever published, this is habit number one: Be proactive.
There are many things in this world not in your control. The current state of your body and career are both examples. You can’t change your past habits around diet and exercise any more than you can change the lot in life that got you to wherever you are in your work life.
You can only control what you do from this point forward.
See the graphic that comes along with this article.
Everything you are concerned about falls into your circle of concern. The price of gas, funding cuts, how your parents raised you, a personal tragedy; all of these things concern us and can easily dominate our thoughts and actions. They fall into our circle of concern.
Things we can change fall into our circle of influence, and the things we control most are our own actions and behaviours.
People who spend too much time focused on things they can’t change will see their circle of influence shrink. We all know people like this – they complain and make excuses, they blame others and try to change them instead of themselves. They will have less control over their circumstances over time and less influence.
People who focus inside their circle of influence see quite the opposite. As they actively seek to change their own behaviour and actions to achieve what matters to them, they become far more interesting and motivational to others and their influence and control of their circumstances increase.
I have experienced so much personal well-being from understanding this simple concept. Bad health habits that had me demotivated and depressed slip away within days when I start doing something about it every day. One workout or one day of healthy eating is enough to change my outlook, even after months of negative or blaming feelings. I am being proactive, and I go into the next day wanting to keep going.
Personally, I have never felt trapped in a work situation for long. I think I am, and always have been, very proactive about moving the bar there. But I have met people in crappy work situations that are happy. It is usually one of two things that are keeping them feeling good. They are either in school for something better, or actively working on changing things in some other way, or they accept the job is just a job and get everything they need from their proactive life outside of work. In either case, they are doing things they control that make them feel good about the future and themselves.
If you are focused on the past, on the things in this world that you can’t change by your own actions, or on toxic people that you can’t be free of, try moving your thoughts instead to what you can do and can control in different parts of your life. Move your thoughts and actions there, hang out in that space, and you will find more joy and success, as well as expanding your influence in your world.
IBEX Payroll extends our profound respect and immeasurable gratitude to all the ancestors and keepers of the land on whose traditional territories our work takes place. We acknowledge that we are on Treaty 1 territory, the traditional gathering place of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene people and the traditional homeland of the Métis people. This land is sacred, historical, and significant.
Every time we acknowledge this truth, we have an invitation and an opportunity to reflect on the wrongs of the past, what we do in the present, and what we can do to continually honour the people whose lands and water we benefit from today.
This statement only acts as a first step in honouring the land we reside on and its peoples, and must be paired with education, understanding and informed action.