Life is complicated. You have so many things to do all at once. Like making money, staying healthy, managing relationships, planning for retirement, maybe starting a side hustle, and so on.
No surprise, it can get overwhelming at times.
Now, all those things I said above are completely in your hands. But on top of this, if you try to control things outside of you, you can just imagine how terribly tough life would be.
So, in this story, I will tell you how to simplify your life by letting go of things you can’t control. It can completely change how you see things. So, let’s first understand what is…
In Your Control vs. Out of Your Control
When driving from home to the office, you can decide when to leave home, which road to take, what to carry with you, and whom to go with. All these are in your control.
But the traffic you face on the way isn’t in your hands. You can’t control how long it takes to clear the jam and how late you reach the office.
Most people get frustrated here. They curse their luck and question God why their life is so difficult. They would secretly wish to fly like Superman and appear at the office within seconds. But then they realize they can’t do that. And this annoys them more.
Here is the interesting thing: you can’t control the traffic. But how you react to this traffic is completely in your control.
So, instead of getting frustrated, you can choose to be happy. You can tune in to the music, sway with the rhythm, and enjoy some pleasant moments before facing your stupid boss.
Similarly, the weather, stock market, laws, news, economic conditions, other people’s actions, natural disasters, aging, etc., are all out of your control.
Trying to control them will only make your life worse. You have to let them be as they are and control how you respond to them.
Makes sense? Great. Now, let me tell you…
My Story of How I Learned This
When I was in college, exams used to freak me out.
This was because I was scared of scoring low. I was worried about what my friends and teachers would think. And this distracted me from preparations. And so the results also suffered.
Then, I had this mindset shift: I realized that the marks I achieved weren’t in my direct control. It was my teacher’s job to evaluate the paper and assign the scores I deserved.
So, instead of worrying about my exam results, I started focusing on covering the syllabus, learning the topics, and developing crystal-clear concepts.
Just this small change made a remarkable difference. I had no stress about the results. I became more enthusiastic about learning. And you would have found me smiling when others were nervous.
The thing is, how much effort you put in is in your control, but you have no say over the outcome of the effort. And hence you will be in trouble…
When You Get Attached to the Outcome
Actually, this is common. We all get affected by the outcome. You may set a goal and work towards it for months, but when the results aren’t visible, you get discouraged.
Attachment to outcome affects your performance. You begin to doubt yourself, and this gets in the way of your best work.
This applies when you:
- Start a business but don’t get many clients
- Go to the gym but don’t see muscles growing
- Work sincerely in a job but don’t get a promotion
- Write consistently on Medium but don’t get many followers
The more you dwell on outcomes, the more miserable you will feel. Because, as I said, outcomes are often beyond your control.
The key is to detach yourself from the end result and concentrate on what you can control — doing your job well.
Take Bryan Cranston, the guy who rocked as Walter White in Breaking Bad. In his early years, he faced job struggles. Audition after audition, but no roles.
After plenty of hardship, he had a simple mindset shift that changed everything. And slowly, the roles started coming in.
He eventually landed the lead in Breaking Bad, nailed it, and won 6 Emmys, 2 Golden Globes, and 3 Screen Actors Guild Awards.
So, what was the game-changing shift?
This: He focused on only what he could control.
In the past, he believed auditions were solely about getting a job.
That led to excessive worrying about the results, which distracted him from doing his job well. It negatively impacted his performance and cost him roles.
But then he changed how he saw it. He realized that the purpose of the audition was to serve the script in a unique way that only he could do.
Whether he got the role or not was someone else’s call. So, he quit stressing about selection and zeroed in on doing his job well.
Let go of things you can’t control — like what others say about you, what outcomes you get, what happens in the world.
Instead, focus on what you can control — how you react, what you think, what you do, and how hard you work.
This will make your life incredibly simple. And then, happiness and success will be inevitable.
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