3-4 minute read plus exercise
Thoughts buzzing round your head? A To-Do list longer than your arm?
In the run-up to the festive period many of us will have a lot on and although some pressure is good, too much can leave you feeling stressed or inadequate.
You know that I go for the simple and practical and this exercise ticks those boxes.
If you want to feel more in control, this could help.
What is it?
The Circle of Influence provides a re-focus to what’s on your mind and a strategy for how to deal with it differently.
This exercise will help you to;
- Compartmentalise your thoughts
- Fell more in control by noticing what you can influence and impact
Stephen Covey created The Circle of Influence and argued that spending time and energy on things outside of our control can lead to or enhance feelings of inadequacy and helplessness.
When instead, we could shift our attention on to what to influence and impact and therefore feel more in control.
Story (with client permission)
An individual I was working with recently told me that she was feeling the pressure of changes and cuts in her company. She was doing what was asked of her, but she didn’t agree with the new system that had been introduced. There was confusion about roles and task responsibilities and little teamwork. It was impacting her relationships with colleagues and family and she was fed up. She’d experienced it before in this organisation and didn’t believe it was going to get any better. It was making her feel miserable.
Talking, she realised some of her workplace worries and stresses were out of her control – decisions made elsewhere that she had no involvement with. Frustrating. And yet if she could accept that some of these decisions were out of her control, she could let go of it and ride it out instead. Or, she could look at it differently; what if she could instead influence her colleagues to find a way to clarify the tasks and responsibilities so they could all work together in the new system? A big challenge but perhaps there was hope?
The Circle on Influence clarified what she could and couldn’t control. It gave her a greater sense of agency about what she could do to prioritise, focus and impact those around her, so that she could feel happier at work.
Benefits of using The Circle of Influence
Simply, it takes some of the worry or stress out by introducing another lens. It;
- Refocuses your energy on what you can positively impact
- Prioritises your actions – what you could impact
- Gets ‘stuff’ out of your head and onto paper – helps see issues differently
This could be a good exercise around work issues, career change, managing and improving relationships , communication, team work – endless.
Also good for when feeling stuck or frustrated – read more HERE
How to use The Circle of Influence
There are three circles;
- Circle of Control
- Circle of Influence
- Things Outside my Control
Circle of Control;
Things we are in or have control over. They are often small or simple. Ie how we choose to speak to others, our opinions, what we’re eating for dinner later.
Circle of Influence
Things we have some control over or can influence for impact. Ie, the people we work with and how we communicate, talking kindly to yourself instead of critically, allowing a friend to come to their own conclusions gradually instead of jumping in with your own.
Things Outside my Control
Things we may need to accept are out of our control and cannot influence. Ie the economy, gas price hikes, what others might think of us.
I’ve got this as a full download with instructions at the end of this post – keep reading!
Exercise step by step
- The Circle of Influence is so effective because it’s so simple – focus on what you can impact.
- Note down what’s on your mind
- Ask yourself, ‘Is this within my control?’ Yes – place the issue in the Control Circle (1) and No – for the Outside my Control Circle (3)
- Those issues Outside of my Control Circle; ask yourself, ‘Could I influence this issue instead?‘ Move to Influence Circle (2)
- And repeat
The Circle of Influence – a great tool when feeling stressed
Getting stuff out of our heads helps to clear our minds. It reduces feeling stressed, rumination and internalising. I do this – the internalising bit (work in progress!) and it’s interesting that this topic comes up often with many other work from home people and freelancers.
So I use tools like this to help me as well as the people I work with.
My tips when you’re feeling stressed or got a lot on
- Write it out on paper. Journaling and noting our thoughts is really effective at managing the internalisation; we see the issue on paper – we get perspective
- Get outdoors for a break and walk to think. This means NO PHONE/PODCAST/MUSIC/CALLS – and I mean this very emphatically! Walk in green space or by water for calm rather than urban busy streets where possible. This is my personal fave obvs (!) and this is one of the reasons I Life Coach outdoors on a walk and talk – read more HERE
- Take time to pause – especially when we feel the need to be faster or keep up with the pace. When we pause often we allow ourselves to take notice of what’s really going on around us. We slow down and think more clearly – even though we might feel conflict or resistance to it.
- Meaningful reflection; we can reassess to take perhaps different and more impactful action, refocus and take action.
Have you used this exercise before?
Can you suggest another exercise that’s worked for you? Email me.
If you’re curious to try my non-spammy mailing list (sign up below) and get the free Circle of Influence download with extra prompts and detail.
Plus you’ll receive my updated, FREE guide on How to Slow Down and Get Outdoors More – short exercises to take a breather from everything.
Let me know if you try it.