Take Control Right Now

By Fred Kusch  

“Why worry about things you can’t control when you can keep yourself busy controlling the things that depend on you?” — Unknown

There are lots of things we can’t control in life. The government seems dysfunctional, the world order is out of order, institutions we trust are being shaken to the core, affordable health care is not necessarily affordable, the stock market is a bit of a rollercoaster ride, relationships struggle—the list is infinite. But wouldn’t we be far more effective if we focused on all the things we can control instead? 

We can stop worrying about the indefinite and start benefiting from the guaranteed. Let go of what you can’t control, then spend your energy on what is most important to you. 

Where do you start? Consider the following:

1. How often do you smile in a day? Count your smiles; you might be surprised. The more you are consciously aware of smiling, the better you will feel and the more in control you will be. 

2. What’s your level of honesty? It takes a lot of energy to keep secrets. Unless it is a matter of life and death, keeping secrets is dishonest and less than satisfying. The secrets control you. 

3. Are you grateful and appreciative of those closest to you and to those who make your life and work purposeful and meaningful? How often do you say “thank you” to those people?

4. Do you give others the benefit of the doubt?

5. How do you interpret situations? Do you let half-truths, innuendo, gossip or idle talk form your opinions and ideas or do you dig in and search for truth? If you are lazy and “assume,” you make an ass out of you and me—and you lose control. 

6. Do you notice small acts of kindness? They’re everywhere! Take control and start performing small acts of your own. 

7. Do you listen? It is often said that smart, intelligent and empathetic people listen first and wait to talk. Running off at the mouth too often sends you in the wrong direction and out of control.

8. Do you dwell on negative thoughts? Negativity pushes people away from you, causing a state of uncertainty and instability.

9. You are what you eat! If you eat poorly it will affect your ability to cope with stress and adversity. 

10. How much do you worry? Act on what you can and let the rest go. Don’t waste everyone’s time ragging about what you can’t control.

11. What can you do when things aren’t going your way? Reassess the situation. It may be time to change your mindset, your attitude and your approach to life. 

12. Are you stuck in the past? Do you say things like, “We can’t do that,” or “We’ve never done that before”? Get out of your rut. Learn to embrace change; it’s coming whether you’re ready or not.

13. Do you remember the commandment that in summary states, “Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s goods”? Count your blessings, large and small, and enjoy the things you already have!

14. Do you give your loved ones the attention they deserve? Time is fleeting. You may not, God forbid, get another chance.

15. Do you say “I love you”? The neat thing about this idea is that the person you tell “I love you” to will reciprocate, nine times out of 10. It has been proven that people who love and are loved are more likely to be in control of their lives. 

Odds are some of these resonate with you more than others. When I start fixating on something I can’t control, I pick just one of these to think about instead. I’ve found minor changes in thinking lead to major changes in my reality. Give a few of these ideas a try. You, too, can take control right now.

Fred Kusch, president and CEO of JFK Associates, is a well-known speaker, author, consultant and business coach. For more information, visit jfkassociates.com.