Control What You Can (leave the rest): Growing Resilience by Cultivating Locus of Control

#3 of 7 research-backed ways to grow your resilience on the daily.

What is resilience, really?

Dealing with change, setbacks, loss, and grief is an inevitable and normal part of life.

What is Locus of Control and how does it relate to resilience?

One reason events like COVID-19 are so scary, beyond even the existential fear of a pandemic, is that they interrupt our sense of being in control of what happens in our life.

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Daily Practices to Cultivate Locus of Control

1. Ask: “What is most important to me now? How can I learn and grow from this?”

No matter the situation, and especially when things go awry (which they do on the daily), you can always ask yourself the simple questions — “What is most important to me?” and “How can I learn and grow from this?”. These questions are valuable whether the situation is within your control or not. Then, ask yourself, “What will I do differently next time or, what will I do differently tomorrow?” to make it better. The goal is not perfection or achievement, just rooting in what’s really important, then growing and learning every day.

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Adrien Coquet, FR @ Noun Project

2. Set Goals.

Setting and achieving goals daily is one of the best ways to grow your internal locus of control (combine this with the “hunt the good stuff” exercise daily for maximum effects). Every week I sit down Monday morning and write down my biggest goals, and all the things that have to get done. Then, I break them into daily, more manageable tasks. Checking things off my list is a unequivocal joy every day.

  1. What’s the best Outcome?
  2. What’s your main inner Obstacle?
  3. Make a Plan.

3. Do the next best thing.

Sometimes the world, and/or our to-do list, is simply overwhelming. It seems impossible to do everything, yet everything has to get done. It’s easy — and normal — to get paralyzed by how to best approach it. Yet the best strategy? Do the next best thing. If it can’t be the “best” thing, objectively, do a thing. Anything. Once in motion, the rest will feel more addressable. In social psychology this is sometimes called “the progress principle” — small wins now build momentum; action begets action. You can’t do everything at once. Do one thing, now. As Glennon Doyle, #LoveWarrior says, doing the next right thing, one thing at a time, will take you all the way home (or wherever your journey is headed).

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Re: locus of control, Wikipedia’s page has quite a good overview; for more academic, check out Foundations of Locus of Control by Michael Nowicki and Marshall Duke.

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Solving systemic problems to create a more just, loving world. Transforming education for human flourishing and thriving democracy. Co-Founder @ REENVISIONED.

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