Focus of Control

We should always be asking ourselves: “Is this something that is, or is not, in my control?”

Epictetus, Enchiridion

One of the big themes in Stoicism is to focus on what you can control. The conclusion of this is that we can only control our own thoughts and actions. If something isn’t in our control, it should not be of our concern.

We shouldn’t worry about:

  • What others think about us
  • Our circumstances
  • Our genetics
  • Our past
  • Our future
  • What we think others will think
  • How we compare with other people

The reason we should not worry about these things, is because it takes away energy and focus from the things we should be thinking about. The minute you spent worrying about what others think about you, could have been spent thinking about how you will   a better person today, than who you were yesterday.

We should be thinking about:

  • What can I do today to start achieving my goal
  • Am I performing to my best abilities
  • Am I better than I was yesterday/last week/last year/last decade?
  • How can I prepare to react to negative circumstances that may affect me?
  • What is a positive outcome from this potentially negative situation?

By focusing on what we can control today, gives us so much power. Yes, we may have fallen off of the health wagon for the last day or year. But take action today to get back on track, go for that walk or go to the gym for 10 minutes. Don’t stop by a fast food place on the way home.

We have may missed the lift during our last session. What we must do is look back at our actions and find out what went wrong. Did we use incorrect technique? Did we get adequate rest? Have we been pushing past our recoverable limits? Once we identify what is limiting our performance, we can address these, make a plan and take action to remedy the weaknesses. So that next time we can succeed.We need to learn to focus on the actions we take, rather than the results we get. Being outcome focused, sets us up for failure, if and when we take a loss. Rather, by focusing on the actions we can take today to prepare for the battle, we place ourselves in a much stronger position to win.

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