Kate Stevens

Kate Stevens, Life Coach

Feeling stressed? Want to feel more in control? Refocus with this

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.


Simple, right?



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


Pensive woman considering what she needs to impact..!

How to use The Circle of Influence



There are three circles;

  1. Circle of Control
  2. Circle of Influence
  3. 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

  1. The Circle of Influence is so effective because it’s so simple – focus on what you can impact.
  2. Note down what’s on your mind
  3. 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)
  4. Those issues Outside of my Control Circle; ask yourself, ‘Could I influence this issue instead?‘ Move to Influence Circle (2)
  5. 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

  1.   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
  2.   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
  3.   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.
  4.   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.

Client agreement - ground rules.

1. Bring my whole self to this process; professionally and personally.

You cannot separate your professional and personal ‘lives’.

2. Be present in the moment and connected.

… to the coaching; what you’re thinking, feeling, experiencing. And…to nature if and where we are outdoors. If we’re on headphones, I’ll invite you to be descriptive of your environment too.

3. Bring the agenda to each session and keep your overall objective alive.

You can do this in several ways:

  • Be goal and action orientated – bring what you want to discuss and achieve to the session; OR
  • Talk and see what lands – exploratory and intentional.

I will bring the process, tools, ideas, resources and best practice to best support you towards your goal/intention/objective. More in your pre-coaching questionnaire. 

4. Give feedback and be responsive.

Coaching is collaborative. Neither of us should guess where we stand. I ask you to give me feedback and respond – you can rely on me to give and do the same.

I aim to get back to you within 24 hours of you emailing me, even if it’s just to say ‘I received your message’ before I respond properly. If it’s over the weekend or holiday, this may take longer.

5. Do the work in the session and in between sessions.

…so that you get the best value, even when it’s challenging. I might suggest a piece of work based on what you brought to the session. Mainly you will decide your course of action.

Whichever way, I’ll invite you to:

  • Reflect more; through walking, writing and whatever else fires you up, to help you achieve your objective.
  • Explore more; be curious and follow those trails of thought, intentionally
    Practice more; habits? Actions? Keep trying/tweaking.
  • Note what’s coming up that’s important or interesting to you in the session. I may share a few bullet points with you after, via Google Docs.

6. Session duration and timescale.

Generally a session is an hour but happy to shorten or increase session lengths, as and when we both can, that day. Where either of us thinks it appropriate, let’s say in the session. Timescale – let’s keep to the timescale agreed in the contract.

Additional information...

  • Coaching is a relationship designed to facilitate the development of personal or professional goals and develop a plan/strategy for achieving those goals.
  • It is comprehensive; it may involve other areas of your life beyond what you may have originally intended. It is your responsibility to choose and decide how to handle this, or even whether to.
  • It can be challenging; digging deep, creating better habits, becoming more self-aware, changing unhelpful beliefs you hold about yourself to something more helpful. There will be ups and downs. You will gain new insights, learnings and perspectives to help you achieve your goal.
  • You – the Client, are solely responsible for creating and implementing your own physical, mental and emotional well-being, decisions, choices, actions and results arising out of or resulting from the coaching relationship and your coaching calls and interactions with me – the Coach. As such, you agree that the Coach is not and will not be liable or responsible for any actions or inaction, or for any direct or indirect result of any services provided by me – the Coach. 
  • You – the Client, understand that in order to enhance the coaching relationship, you agree to communicate honestly, be open to feedback and assistance and to create the time and energy to participate fully in the program. I will do the same.
  • Coaching is not a substitute for counselling, mental health care or substance abuse treatment.  If you are in any kind of therapy, please tell me.  Tell your practitioner (medical or therapeutic) of you working with me.
  • I ask you to agree to commit to the coaching sessions to facilitate the required change.
  • I will treat you as the expert regarding the subject matter, which is…YOU.
  • I will allow time and space for you to explore your thoughts and think for yourself, no interruptions. There may be long pauses or silence sometimes to elicit more.
  • What goes on in your sessions is confidential. I do not discuss it with anyone. There may be occasion when it is my duty to break confidentiality:
    > If I feel you or I are at risk of harm.
    > Criminal / illegal activity.
    > A safeguarding concern or something else so serious that warrants concern.
  • I may talk to my coach or supervisor about issues arising in our sessions without ever naming or giving away you as the client. This is to ensure I am following professional and ethical guidelines and delivering my best. I subscribe to these by the ICF; https://coachfederation.org/code-of-ethics
  • Qualifications and CPD; I am an accredited coach. This means I have trained, practiced and qualified with Animas Centre for Coaching (Nov 2020). I hold a ‘Diploma in Transformational Coaching’. This is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
    > I have my own coach and group supervision
    > My CPD includes –  Outdoor Intelligence for Online Coaching (Oct 2020) -Positive Psychology (Feb 2021

My accreditations


My story

I’d been trying to work out ‘what else’ I could do with my career and life.

After 20 years in HR and with the children getting older, I wanted to change careers, but into ‘what?’ And ‘how’ was that even possible? And…’who would take on a mid-40’s apprentice?’!

I took small steps to boost my confidence and mindset; a regular ‘walk and whinge’ with friends to offload, short courses to up-skill, more running, more netball.
I asked my workplace ‘what else’ they needed that I could help with – ‘job crafting’. 

I was trying to make changes but it wasn’t really working. I was still frustrated and now, more miserable. I needed a different approach to find a way forward and release the building pressure I felt.

Hiring an accredited coach with whom I knew I could work with, enabled me to take a good look at myself – at times, uncomfortably.

To be listened to without any interruption, or judgement was empowering and I started to recognise what made me, me – my personality, strengths, what energised me and made me happy. What if these things amounted to a job I would…love…?

I followed my curiosity and dabbled with ideas about potential jobs, tasks and environments that would suit me, with a new, growth mindset.

I started to shift perspective. When I finally realised the ‘what’, I felt an energy and sense of knowing that was powerful. And I laughed, because it had been right in front of me!

Coaching undoubtedly helped me get to know myself, to see my potential and what was possible. I wholeheartedly decided through those sessions, on what and how I wanted things to be.

It had taken me two years of feeling stuck and miserable and a number of hours to be liberated.

This is what I now do with my clients. I help them rediscover themselves so that they can play to their strengths and thrive.