Back to Blog

Where Is Your Locus of Control?

Jun 06, 2023

There is a continuum of control - or agency- that ranges from internal to external.  Where you see yourself on this continuum can depend on different factors.  For example, you may feel you have greater control in your health and well-being or your relationships and less control in your work or in your finances. 

In addition, your level of control can vary according to your stage of life and your situation at any given time.  Many of us felt that we experience a loss of control during periods of change and uncertainty.

When we feel that we have control, we are more confident in our actions and our decisions.  With less control, we feel that someone else is calling the shots and our only choice is to respond. 

The reality is that we cannot control everything that happens in our lives.  What we can control, however, is the way we respond to what happens.  This power of choice is uniquely human and sometimes, we take it for granted.

When you try to control the circumstances or people around you, it often leads to frustration.  People do things for their reasons, not yours.  Even when you try to assign intent or meaning to their actions, you could be wrong.  And letting go of those beliefs can be difficult. 

As for circumstances, there are many beyond our control.  Let's face it, this is a lesson we all learned during the pandemic.  Did you notice how some people were able to roll with it while others just could not adjust and adapt? For anyone who believes their locus of control is completely external, life seems to be happening to you and you are its victim.  On the other hand, to someone who feels they are more at the internal control part of the continuum, they have more agency over their actions and their thoughts. 

One choice we can all make is to determine where in our lives we want more control, and where it makes sense to let go.  Gaining clarity in this area can save a lot of worry and frustration, as well as a lot of misdirected energy. 

As a high performance coach, I work with my clients to help them gain clarity on their priorities and the things that will make them happier and more fulfilled in life.  Aligning your time, energy and attention with what is important - what you value most - can make a big difference in how you view your locus of control. 

So, ask yourself, on a scale of one to ten, how much control do you have in your overall life right now?  And are you happy and satisfied with that level or do you want more?  If that seems overwhelming, think about it the major areas of your life:  your health, your finances, your work, your relationships, your lifestyle. How would you rate each of those areas and where would you like to focus your attention to increase your rating?  As I like to say, pick just one area.  And determine what steps you can take to gain greater satisfaction.

The need for control is one of the things that drives human behavior and also drives how we feel about our life in general.  Take time to determine what is worth trying to control and what is not. 

One thing that is worth controlling is our outlook about the future.  There have been a lot of studies that indicate that optimistic people are happier across almost every area of life.  Think about whether your internal chatter is largely negative or positive and why.  Think about the way you handle difficult situations and difficult people.  And think about how you behave when you are at your very best.  How can you bring more of your best self into your work, your relationships and your life in general? 

As you think about these things, it could be helpful to have someone with whom to share your thoughts.  For me, that is my coach and my mastermind group.  If you think you could benefit by having such a sounding board, I invite you to schedule a brief strategy call with me.   Just click the button below.

And, if you found value in this post, please share it with three friends that would also benefit. 


Schedule a Discovery Session with Cheryl

Click to book your call