For the past few weeks in the Running with Bacon Online Community we’ve been discussing the concept of control. And if you’re a type A like me, you loooooovvveee when you’re in control.
But as demonstrated by my last couple of posts, we’ve unknowingly and inadvertently given up a lot of control over our health.
We’ve engineered activity right out of our lives; the “more, more, more” mentality, in America especially, has had portion sizes increasing steadily over the last several decades.
Even though much of what has happened has been out of our control, we’re still victim to the consequences as demonstrated by ¾ of Americans being overweight and obese.
Are We Doomed?
With all these things being out of our control, it’s tough to discern where to focus our efforts. If all this stuff is happening and we don’t have any say in it, are we doomed?
No, my friend, we are not!
But it does take intentionality and design to get things back on track, and you can really only do it for yourself (or our small family unit) at first.
The first thing to realize is which factors you do and don’t have control over, and you can do this with an activity I’ll refer to as the Circles of Control.
This is at least ten times more effective if you do it on paper, so humor me and grab a post-it or scrap piece of paper. If you’re the real artsy type, open publisher or a creator app on your computer or phone.
Draw a big circle – that’s your circle of concern.
Then draw a circle inside of that big circle – that’s your circle of control.
Pick one thing you’re concerned with as the topic here, say for example, moving more.
Inside your circle of concern, write all the things regarding your activity level that are of course of concern, but that you have no control over. Things like the weather, or your kids’ schedules, or a lingering injury that just won’t go away.
Then, inside your circle of control, write all the things about your activity level that you DO have control over. Things like setting goals, leaving your running shoes right by the door, having a good playlist or podcast to listen to, and charged headphones.
Now take a step back and think about whether your two circles resemble a thin bike tire, or if they resemble a donut.
This is important because the things you have control over are the things you want to focus on. So if your circles are like a thin bike tire, you’ve got way more things to focus on that are within your control.
But if your circles resemble a donut, you may be spending energy worrying a lot about things that are out of your control.
You can do this activity with more than just your desired activity level – you can do it with nearly all things that concern you in your life. Just pick a topic and write the things into your circles of concern and control.
The thinner you can get your circle of concern outer ring of the diagram, the more likely you are to find success in whatever it is.
This is even proven science! When we focus on things that are out of our control, we feel victim to the circumstances, giving our mental (and sometimes physical) energy to things that we have no impact on.
But when we’re willing to evaluate the things we have control over and then act on those things – to either change them or remove them – we have a sense of power over our situation which implies we can change our situation.
Afterall, that’s the exact definition of control – the power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events. Except this time, it’s not people’s behavior, it’s yours. And when you have control over your own behavior (aka habits) that’s when you can become the future version of yourself that you’ve always wanted.