How would your life be different if…You stopped worrying about things you can’t control and started focusing on the things you can?
– Steve Maraboli
“You worry too much. Eat some bacon…what? No, I got no idea if it’ll make you feel better, I just made too much bacon.”
– Justin Halpern, Sh*t My Dad Says
There are two broad categories of worries – those we can do something about and those we can’t do anything about. In either case, we shouldn’t waste our time worrying about either – and here’s why.
First, there are those worries about things we can do something about. If we can act on a problem, then why worry about it? If we choose not to act, it usually means the worry is about something we don’t really place a high value on. If we place a high value on something we are worried about AND we can act to change the outcome, then we should act and stop worrying.
Financial planning falls into this category. Increasing your savings rate, sticking to an investment strategy, having an appropriate amount of life or long-term care insurance, and drafting an estate plan are all steps we can take to alleviate financial worries.
The second broad category of worry is about events or things we can’t do anything about. For instance, whether the market will decline thirty percent the year you retire, or when the next recession will occur. We really have no idea what the future holds, and all we can do is the best we can. Worrying about the things that are completely out of our hands won’t change anything, but it could shorten your life!
In the book the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey describes the idea of the Circle of Concern and the Circle of Influence. Within the Circle of Concern are all of the things that we worry about, including the things we have no control over.
The Circle of Influence is within the Circle of Concern. In this circle are the things we can act upon to change. As we spend more time on the things we can change, our Circle of Influence gets larger.
Focus your resources on what you can influence, and don’t worry needlessly. If you can act on a problem, you shouldn’t worry about it. And if a problem is beyond your control, you shouldn’t worry about it.