You can’t control everything in your career (or life). But you can find those areas where you have a degree of influence over situations or people that you can manage. Part of the answer is to subdivide those things you can influence and those you can’t. Figure out which issues are worth worrying about, those that you can directly or indirectly influence and the important things you have the most control over. No matter what the situation or environment, you always have a choice as to what you do and how you handle it.
For each and every decision point of your career (or life) there are three possibilities: Those things that you can control; those things that you can influence; and those things that you have absolutely no control or influence over. If you can learn to separate each from the other, and then develop a strategy for every item, your life will become a lot easier.
Here are a few questions to answer in helping you sort out alternatives:
Of those things that I can control:
- To what degree can you control the outcome? Some? Quite a bit? Most?
- Who are other potential control agents that you need to engage?
- What’s the goal that I want to achieve?
- What strategy is best employed to optimize my situation?
- What’s my time frame?
- What support will I need?
- Who is the greatest ally for me to engage?
Of those things that I can influence:
- What or who is the controlling factor that I need to influence?
- What‘s the degree of my influence?
- What’s the best approach?
- What facts, ideas, alternatives or strategy have the most chance of success?
- Who are my allies that can support my efforts?
- What’s the most effective leverage for my position?
Of those things that I have no control or influence over:
- Is there a way to convert the “no control” to at least some minor degree of influence?
- How much impact does this control have over me?
- What’s the best and worst-case scenario?
- How do I prepare for each?
- Is there a “silver lining”? If so, how do I optimize it?
Once you determine which category applies (control, influence, or neither), how you manage each of them may determine where and how your career moves. There are three types of people: Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and the vast majority of people who have no idea what’s happening. Which one describes you?
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