Don’t Worry About What You Can’t Control

This is lesson #48 from my book Little Things Matter, 100 Ways to Improve Your Life Today.

If you are like most people you probably spend more time worrying than you should. Worrying about job security, project deadlines, health, shrinking budgets, rising taxes, the housing market, world poverty, our children’s safety, even the weather. Some things we can control, others we clearly cannot. The key to maintaining a positive attitude in life is to know the difference.

I heard years ago that 92 percent of the things people worry about are beyond their control.

If you are troubled about something you can control, like whether you are going to lose your job, then step up your game. Come in early, stay late, offer to work on a weekend, or volunteer to take on additional responsibilities; do anything you can think of to increase your value. If you end up losing your job, you can bet you’ll get a better reference.

If you are concerned about your health, exercise regularly, eat a well-balanced diet, and refrain from smoking.

On the other hand, if you find yourself worrying about something like the safety of your son or daughter serving in the military, whether the government is going to raise taxes, or whether the coming storm will deluge you with rain, understand that there’s no action you can take to make any impact on these events or circumstances.

You cannot control these things; worrying about them will just cause stress and affect your overall attitude. In the long term, worrying about what you can’t control puts your health, happiness, and longevity at risk.

LTM Challenge

Make a list of the things you worry about. Divide that list into two categories:

1.  Concerns you can do something about

2.  Concerns beyond your control

Beside each of the items you can control, include an action item. For instance, if you worry about the ten pounds you’ve recently gained, put together a plan to do something about it. If you’re concerned about an impending deadline, make a list of all the things required to get the project completed.

Make a commitment to attack everything within your control and be intentional about not worrying about the things you can’t. At first, you’ll find it hard not to worry about the things you can’t control, but if you use self-discipline and refuse to worry about them, it will become easier.

One of the traits of positive people is that they don’t worry about things they can’t control.

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About the Author: Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 30 years and founder of Little Things Matter. To receive Todd’s lessons, subscribe here. All Todd’s lessons are also available on iTunes as downloadable podcasts. (Todd’s podcasts are ranked #22 in America’s top 100 podcasts and #1 in the personal and development field.)

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  • Tremendous Jones

     The only person you can control 100% is yourself. Focus on things you have control over.

  • I like that you added an action step to the things we can control, Todd. Proactivity! One of the things that has helped me greatly is something a friend once told me. "Draw a circle around your feet. The only thing you can control is inside the circle." A simple exercise, and a great reminder when I get anxious over the uncontrollable ...

  • Hi Scott,

    I like the tip! Thanks!


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