You've probably heard it said before, "what you focus on becomes your reality."
Do you ever wonder why despite all your efforts you just can't seem to get a problem or situation to change for the better? Where have you been focusing your energy? Inside your circle of influence, or in your circle of concern?
The Circle of Influence (Covey, 2004), is a powerful tool that will help you become more aware of your thinking and behaviours on matters where you can make a real difference. By becoming attuned to where and how you are using your valuable personal resources you can make changes that will increase your personal and professional effectiveness, gain more independence, and create a more desirable reality.
Looking inside your Circle of Concern
The following exercise will help you examine the choices you are making and how you are prioritizing the stuff in your life that consumes your valuable mental, emotional, and physical power. Let's take a closer look at what you can do to shift yourself out of the place that has you stuck by exploring what you may be doing to keep yourself there.
Take a blank piece of paper and draw a large circle. Fill it with all the things you are concerned with, that are important to you, and that take your time and attention. Anything and everything in your personal and professional life.
Focusing on your Circle of Influence
Now, draw a second circle like the one below depicting a smaller "circle of influence" within a larger "circle of concern." The things that we have little or no real control over fall in the outer circle of concern, while those we can do something about land within the circle of influence. So look at what you have identified and filter accordingly into one of the two circles in the diagram. As you complete this exercise, what do you see that you can let go of immediately?
E x p a n d i n g your Circle of Influence Covey suggests that when people shift their focus onto the challenges where they can make a real difference, it actually expands their circle of influence. (You can learn more in his book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.")
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Here's what YOU can do:
1. Use your filters and stay open to reframing the things that concern you.
2. Observe your thinking and behaviours...are you responding reactively to what is outside of your control?
3. Focus on your personal growth and self-awareness.
4. Be willing to make changes that are truly within your power.
5. Be proactive and seek solutions.
6. Develop SMART goals on the things within your circle of influence.
7. Remember, it's all about the learning!
Thought Challenge: How much time and energy are you expending in the circle of concern versus the circle of influence? What is it costing you? What becomes possible when you concentrate your efforts on the things within your circle of influence? How do your goals support your circle of influence?