Stephen R. Covey described circles of concern and influence in his classic book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He wrote,
”Instead of reacting to or worrying about conditions over which they have little or no control, proactive people focus their time and energy on things they can control."
In response to some stressors in my life this year, I drew three circles;-
Control, Influence and Concern.
There are things in my life that I can control.
There are circumstances and people that I can influence.
There are areas of concern that I have no control or influence over at all.
I have tried to manage my time based on what I wrote in my circle of control. An over-reaction to events we cannot control-
a bad driver, a long check-out line, negative behaviour of other people, the weather report, the value of the dollar, and so on-
drains our energy and darkens our mood. We have influence over people in close and casual relationships, but it is important to resist controlling others who are capable of being responsible for their own decisions, particularly our children and spouses.
I recently returned from Mexico where I spent time caring for my father who is dependent in all aspects of his care. His inability to do things for himself due to advanced Parkinson’s Disease causes frustration and anger at times. We discussed this topic and talked about how his circle of control has become much, much smaller.
My three year old great-nephew came to visit while Dad was walking around the house for exercise. I watched as Great-Grandson pushed his scooter at the same pace that Great-Grandfather walked with his walker. Youth and old age, both with limited control but with significant influence on each other.
Here is the template for the circles I filled in with very personal situations and concerns. The exercise brought increased awareness of what things are most important for me to "centre" on.