Another key element that underlies the ability to have a sense of control in our lives is choice. Simply put, as long as you have choices, you are in control! By creating more choices in your life, you advance your pursuit of control. Here are a couple of suggestions on how to create more “choice” in your life:
Pose what-if questions and create your own fallback positions. How does one go about creating fallback positions? A key step is to think about what’s important to you, and then create your own what-if strategy for it. For example, what if you were to lose a big sale that would mean not reaching your quota? Or what if you lost your job? These are simply examples, but you get the point. Many people I have worked with and interviewed over the years commented that they have a fallback position in case their jobs are eliminated. They will oftentimes identify something they enjoyed doing earlier in life, for example, such as waitressing, flipping hamburgers or being a greeter at Wal-Mart. These same people keep their resumes current and make a continuous effort to network so they are prepared for an unexpected change in their job situation. Thinking about what’s important to you helps you to retain perspective. After all, we could ask ourselves what-if questions about everything in our lives, and that would be an exhausting endeavor. So for starters, identify what’s important to you, followed by establishing a what-if plan.
With that said, you can invest time thinking about how best to handle everyday situations that frustrate you or really get under your skin. If your bane is being stuck in traffic, develop your what-if plan. For instance, your plan might include loading your car with a selection of educational CDs or audio tracks so you can make productive use of the time. If you are frustrated by last-minute appointment cancellations, call or email a day or two ahead to arrange and confirm your appointments to minimize surprises.
Another way to create more “choice” in your life is to operate more often on a want-to basis. Choices are often perceived as being limited when you are operating on a “have to,” should,” or “must” basis. The easiest way to operate on a want-to basis is to ask yourself questions that get you thinking about whether you have to or must or should do something. For example, ask yourself, “Do I have to move all the furniture when cleaning?” Clearly, you don’t have to. But if you want to have a clean home and you are going to do it yourself, then you want to do it, even if it is only a “little want.”
By coupling the question of “want to” with the achievement of desired outcomes, you’ll develop a greater level of enthusiasm, because you are acting out of choice instead of feeling as if you’re limited in what you can do – which leads us back to not taking control – because you already have it. Rather, in the big picture, it’s learning how to utilize the control that’s already yours!