Getting out of our own way

Illusion of control

Today I want to talk about control. You might find it laughable after the last 2+ years we have been through, but all of us seek it nevertheless.

While I am not the most organized person, I have always been big on scheduling. When it comes to my own schedule, I plan everything to a T. Family life is obviously more difficult to manage. Every few months something changes. Whether it’s changing jobs, sending kids back to school, organizing their extracurricular activities… Every time I try to optimize a schedule that would suit everyone and leave a little bit of time for me to just be me… And then it all gets turned upside down again.

A year ago, I found a new job that was not only a better fit, but also gave me a lot of flexibility in my schedule. I was allowed to work from home 2-3 days a week, which gave me a chance to reduce my travel time and spend more time with my daughters.

Over the last few months, there were discussions of my colleague and I inheriting a big project that we would run together. It was meant to begin in a couple of weeks from now. Just as we were about to get into planning out the logistics, she announced that she found a new job. While I can certainly handle the project alone, this will put a big damper on my carefully devised time table.

And of course, when it rains, it pours.

The following day I found out that our babysitter will likely quit in a couple of weeks. I have always been able to control my emotions, but being confronted by one thing on top of another made me want to shake someone by the shoulders.

And then I remembered Stephen Covey’s model of “Circle of Concern” and “Circle of Influence”.

You may have more control than you think

Sometimes we get in our own way or get overly influenced by the Circle of Concern.  Your circumstances make you feel like:

  • You are in the wrong job and your family life is disorganized
  • You have a hectic schedule and cannot find time to get anything done
  • You could do so much more if the setting was right, or you didn’t have a long commute, or kids to take care of, or finances to manage…

… and so on and so forth.  Can you relate?

But what if you try to focus on the Circle of Influence?

Sometimes we just need to grab a pen and some paper, spend some time to quiet down that hurricane of thoughts in our mind and try to reflect on the possibilities.

  • Can you find other people who could help out? At work OR at home?
  • What resources are available that you could utilize? (In my case, it might be the after school program.)
  • Or can you negotiate to do what needs to be done at work, but on your own schedule?

Sometimes barriers are self-inflicted.  We need to slow down, identify them and reflect on what tweaks we can make right now.  And most importantly get out of our own way.

What if you try to focus on the Circle of Influence?

Last year, as I was thinking about similar issues and trying to find a way to to take control of my life, I created “Muted Potential”. You can read more about it here. It is my first interactive creation that you can uncover as you exert your Influence.

“Muted Potential”, 2021

Art is my emotional outlet and my oasis.  I use art to express my feelings and work through life issues.  Come join me on this journey of letting go of control and letting the creative process take over.  You will get access to all of the behind the scenes footage and see the major breakthroughs that translate into new artwork.

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