Three Types of Control Will Either Ruin or Make All Possible

 Photo by Neon Brand

Photo by Neon Brand

We all want control. We want the power to make changes, try new things, and see something happen as a result.

There are three types of control that I’ve come across from my experience. I’ve found that I’m most dissatisfied with my life when I focus on a certain type of control (#3).

I’ll list the three types, go over each, and how to handle them in this article.

If you want a clear-cut way to cut out the bullshit distractions, the illusions, the terrible advice from friends and family and get what you want, then read on…

Three Types of Control:

  • What We Can Control (Can)

  • What We Want to Control (Might)

  • What We Can Never Control (Can’t)

If you’re like me, you want to improve your life by knowing what you should focus on. Misplaced action, however intense, leads to dead ends. It’s clarity — a perspective based on reality — that will guide you to your goals.

The right understanding of what we should try to control is critical to survival, and by survival, I mean your happiness and fulfillment.

If you’re like me, you want: actualization, healthy relationships, freedom, money, success — to survive and survive well.

I’m a daydreamer. My biggest fault is that I have too many ideas. I’m guilty of spending too much time in my head thinking about what I want in the future, rather than what I can do about it.

People give up, quit their goals or never go after them because they confuse what they can control. Instead of spending their time with the first type of control, they waste all their energy on the 2nd and 3rd type.

Can you see how only focusing on what we want to control and what we will never control can be a problem?

A lot of info from smart people talk about focusing on your goals, taking actions, but most of the goal-setting is unrealistic. We’ve never been taught to take a step back and analyze our goals in the context of our environment, our reality.

You can focus all your energy on what you want for your future, but NLP or clever affirmations repeated until you have a creepy smile on your face like a petrified bug will help you as much as focusing on the first level of control.

Here’s a secret: the only real power you have is what you control right now and should be your FOCUS.

There is only one way to move from control 1 to control 2, and that is with influence. There are many ways to influence, yes you can get better at it, but it’s not fully in your control. It’s a matter of degree.

Ultimately, the only thing you can control is:

  • Your present actions

  • What’s in front of you now

  • The options you have

  • The decisions you make

If you think back to the times when you were most off track, you’ll find that it was because you focused on #2 and #3 instead of #1.

As a futurist and a creative person, it can be a hopeless cause to try to reign my thoughts into the present. I know I’m not the only one that struggles with this…

I’ve always been a dreamer. I look to the future, hoping, wishing, planning, thinking…

It’s not bad, and at times, that trait can be a strength. Some personalities look ahead, some look behind, and some look in front.

From the books I’ve read on being a successful musician, starting a business, and raising kids as a single parent — I’ve learned that my failures are because I focused on the wrong type of control.

Focus on what you control right now to make better decisions that put you in a position of influence to move #1 to # 2.

Why do we get stuck? Because we focus on #2 and #3.

I looked to the future, dreamed about what I wanted to create, become obsessed with it, and wondered why I felt powerlessness when it was time to move. Because they were things I cannot control directly. I couldn’t take a specific action to make it happen. Only small actions that may or may not lead to the goal.

Shortcut: become obsessed with things that you can control. Don’t bother yourself or take responsibility for what is not in your control.

You might have asked yourself what do you need to do to become successful? I know I have throughout all my experiments. The problem with that type of question is that the context is too wide.

Here’s something to avoid — don’t allow things you cannot control hijack your focus of #1.

  • You’re not famous?

  • You don’t have 20 million in the bank?

  • You don’t own 500 properties?

These things are in the realm of possibility but you cannot directly control them. They are not impossible, but the result of it is not in your direct control, only your influence.

Bare with me here…

What you control is the level of influence to move from one point to the next — but only #1 to #2. The way to do this is not to think, “how can I be famous?” That’s a terrible focus. You cannot directly control how you can become famous. There’s a disconnect. What makes you happy is doing what you can do in the moment, directly.

Focus your daily activities on what you can control:

  • Can you take a new job?

  • Can you relocate?

  • Can you sell something?

  • Can you ask someone out?

Want a spouse? That goal falls under #2 control.

Tell me what’s better, to focus on your desire for a spouse or focusing on meeting as many new people as you can?

You can directly control if you meet new people. Go up to someone at a coffee shop, bookstore, or restaurant. Maybe one of those people will be the right fit. Either way, those type of actions improves the likelihood of meeting a person that can become your spouse.

In this example, it would be silly to beat yourself up over the fact that you don’t yet have a spouse. It sounds dumb but we do this all the time. You should beat yourself up if you’re not getting out there and meeting new people. That’s #1 all the way. It’s within your power. Whether or not that person becomes your spouse or not, who can know? That’s up to influence, not control.

To wrap it up, dissatisfaction comes from when we focus on (2) What we wish we can control and (3) what we can never control.

Be present in the situations and decisions that you have direct control over. Use them to your advantage to strategically place yourself in an influential position, moving from point #1 to point #2.

Use all of your energy making the best of what is in front of you — not only for the sake of being in the “moment” or “appreciating” — but because it’s the only way to get control.

The decisions of the here and now, the today, are all that matter. Aren’t they the map that influences your future? Focus on that.

Most of daily life is mundane — it’s a fact that we have to endure. It’s in those brief moments, the times when magic seems possible, that make the trite bearable and worthy of your attention.