• Do you ever feel like the goal you want to achieve is unattainable?
  • Why is that?
  • What’s stopping you from making it happen?

When clients chat to me about their goals or intentions, and I express that they can achieve them, one of the most common responses I hear is:

Yes, but there is so much that is out of my control…

The sense of their lack of control is either an excuse or a genuine reason for them not making the progress that they envision.

But control is an illusion. Let’s look at why.

The First Step

When you’re setting goals, something you must start with is your belief that it’s possible. There’s no point in setting an objective that you don’t believe is achievable.

This is easier said than done!

As you write down what you want to accomplish, is there a point where you start to wonder about all the obstacles in your way?

… I don’t have the time to commit to this …

… I don’t have the money to support this …

… It relies on other people helping me …

Sometimes it’s hard to stop your brain from reeling through all of the possible problems and constantly finding new ones, and you inevitably feel overwhelmed.

A Victim of Circumstances

Some elements in your life definitely can’t be controlled.

Some elements in your life can be influenced.

If you put your focus and your measures of success onto what is far out of your sphere of influence, you’re going to leave your outcomes to luck.

When you become a victim of circumstances, your goals either succeed because the circumstances happen to fall into place, or you fail because they don’t. You find yourself waiting for the perfect time to do things (when there is no perfect time) because you have persuaded yourself that that is how you gain control and overcome your circumstances.

The Illusion of Control

Think about this: How much control do you actually have over anything in your life?

The reality is, there is hardly anything that you can control.

If you think about how you operate your days, you work on the basis that if you do certain things, in certain orders, then you are likely to get a certain outcome.

If you want to make a cup of tea, you know that:

  • If you turn on the tap, water will come out. You can put the water into the kettle, flick the kettle switch, and electricity will come on. The electricity will allow the kettle to heat the water, and once heated you can pour the water into your mug.

It seems like a simple task, over which you have complete control. But if you think about all of the different elements of the task individually, can you see how many of them are really not in your control at all?

  • You can’t control whether or not the tap provides water the moment you twist the handle.
  • You can’t control whether the electricity cuts out just before you try to switch on the kettle.

These are things that you take for granted – and because you do, you live in a lovely illusion where everything feels under control.

It is only when something unexpected happens that the illusion shatters and it can be very unsettling.

Degrees of Influence

You may not have control, but what you do have are degrees of influence.

Imagine yourself at the centre of a set of ever-expanding circles.

  • The circles which surround you closest are the ones you can most easily influence.
  • The circles which you can see, but not quite reach yet, are the ones which you have partial influence over.
  • The circles which are hazily in the distance, that you can’t see the edges of, are the ones you have little-to-no influence over.

When you are considering an intention, think about:

  • What is in your closest circles of influence, which you can absolutely choose to do?
  • What is in your farthest circles of influence, which you can absolutely choose not to do?

These two questions set some parameters for moving forward. They help you to recognise that you are making your own choices. You’re not looking at your lack of control as a stripping away of your choice – you’re simply acknowledging that those furthest-away options are ones you’re not choosing to tackle right now, perhaps because the consequences of trying them would be dangerous or detrimental.

You choose what you do and when you do it. You choose how you respond to every set of circumstances.

Next, think about this:

  • What are the choices you are making throughout your day?
  • How are those choices supporting you?
  • How are those choices taking you off course?

The Conversation

When I talk about control with my clients, I have a conversation about three Cs:

  1. Certainty: How much certainty do you need in your life?
  2. Choice: How much choice are you aware you are making? It’s important to raise awareness about how much choice you have in your decisions and how those choices are influencing your outcomes.
  3. Clarity: How clear are you? If you are making decisions about your next direction, how clear are you about the path you are on and the destination you are heading for?

My conversations with clients are private, sensitive and delicate – creating a confidential space where we can explore choices together. They know something has to change, and by having a one-to-one session, they can move positively towards discovering what that change looks like.

If you’d like to book a one-to-one session with me or talk about the support you need, do get in touch. Call me on 07766 004 964, click here to email me or visit my online diary here.