4 Little Words to Take Control of Your Life
So, you probably don’t have as much control of your life as you think you do. You may agree with me on that, you may not. That doesn’t matter. You may get message after message on personal responsibility that reminds you that you are in control of your life…
But are you? Actually?
Under the surface, if you actually want to know who or what controls your life, you need to know who or what controls your DECISIONS. Because life is nothing more than the culmination of the decisions you make within it.
Are you handing your decisions, and therefore your control, over to someone or something else? Let’s find out...
Do you believe that your life and your choices are completely within your control, as long as things work out easily? This is what I like to call conditional control - it’s when you hand your decisions over to your circumstances.
This usually sounds like a logical decision. Let’s see if it sounds familiar: “I’d like to take this trip, but I can’t get the PTO approved”, or "I’d like to buy a house, but I don’t have enough money.” Have you said something like that before? This week?
If you look a little closer, those decisions aren’t necessarily based on what you actually want. They’re based on the conditions currently happening in your life.
Another question: Do you personally think through every decision you make, or do you unknowingly outsource those decisions someone else?
When you were little, you were constantly asking your parents and your teachers what decisions to make in any given situation. Then you grew up, and you started asking your boss what decisions you should make. Chances are, you have gotten in the HABIT of pawning your decision-making to someone of authority in your life.
You’ve handed your decisions over to what other people think. Does that sound like you’re in control? Didn’t think so.
If you want true control of your life, figuring out WHAT decisions to make isn’t nearly as important as HOW and WHY you make those decisions.
If you understand HOW to make proper, effective, productive decisions, whatever decision you make will likely turn out just fine. If the question is always WHAT, you will usually take the path of least resistance - and hand your decision-making power over to either your circumstances or the loudest authority figure. You will put off making decisions that benefit your future because you’re waiting for the things around you to change. That is a very dangerous place to be, and it’s a pretty powerless way to live your life. And that’s not what I want for you.
So if you’ve been in the habit of handing over your decisions, how do you snap out of it? How do you stop? Let me give you an example:
I was playing in a basketball tournament a few weeks ago, and it’s been a minute since I’ve had to keep up with some of the young guys. I had a brace on one knee, so I was overcompensating with the other. Needless to say, walking was not super easy the next day. But when my 4 year old son wanted to play, I didn’t whine about how my knee hurt so I can’t. I had him hop on his fire truck toy, and I used one arm to push him so he’d roll down the hall, and then he’d come back. This occupied him for 45 minutes, and I didn’t have to move. I figured out a way to play with my kid without hurting myself.
When I had kids, living in a conditional control mentality was simply not an option. Telling your child that you’re too tired to feed them is not an acceptable decision as a parent. When my kids want to play, it doesn’t matter if I feel like it, I figure out a way to play with my kids. Can you relate? Whether or not your decision has anything to do with kids, a simple switch in mindset can help break the habit of giving away your decisions. If you apply it to HOW you make your decisions, it opens up worlds of possibilities. And it's only 4 little words:
Go from "I'd like to, but..."
To "I need to, so..."
That change in 4 little words will change your entire life.
It’s amazing how necessity is the mother of invention. When you need something in your life, you are significantly more likely to create it. When you determine a need, you’ll figure things out. Is it really that simple? I think so.
But here’s the catch: most of the bigger dreams and goals you have for your life start out as wants, so it can be difficult to operate in that “I need to” mentality.
If you’ve ever been in pursuit of anything big, you know very well that unexpected obstacles will always show up. Always. But how do you handle them? If you have an “I’d like to, but…” mentality, those obstacles will become excuses before you even realize what happened. But with an “I need to, so…” mentality, the obstacles aren’t in the way, they are the way.
Those obstacles become the doors that lead to the solutions, but only if you see overcoming them as a need.
Most people think that struggles and obstacles are there to prevent you, but I think that obstacles are there to prepare you. And the difference really comes down to which mentality you have.
And here’s the thing, perhaps the biggest problem with the “I’d like to, but…” thought process is that it encourages you to be a victim of your circumstances. And then a victim mentality always leads to making excuses and blaming other people.
Listen to me closely: having a victim mentality will keep you stagnant for the rest of your life. If you have to wait for your circumstances to change for you to move in on life, you're going to be waiting forever, and you’re not actually in control.
Don’t relinquish your control and your future to the ups and downs of your circumstances - especially when your current circumstances are the main reason you want a better future in the first place!
“I’d like to, but…” turns your reasons into excuses, but “I need to, so…” turns your excuses into reasons. Which would you rather do? Which 4 little words will you choose?
Moving from conditional control to complete control is simply taking responsibility for your life and your DECISIONS. It’s taking the things you actually want in life and turning them into a need in your heart. Do you want to spend more time with your kids? How about developing a better relationship with your spouse, or breaking a generational curse? If that want becomes a need, you’ll figure out how to prioritize the solution. It’s just a decision!
If you’re cool with mediocre results in your life, keep your conditional control. But I don’t think you’re cool with it, I think you’re just used to it. You’re used to how much you see your family, you’re used to how much money you have in your account, you’re used to what your idea of free time is, and you’re used to playing in your comfort zone. But deep down, you know it’s not enough.
I encourage you to stop lying to yourself. Stop delaying your future by waiting on your circumstances. Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks. Stop making excuses. Stop saying “I’d like to, but…” and start saying “I need to, so…”
Take your decisions back. Change those 4 little words. And watch your life change before your eyes.