Fix frustration by focusing on the things we can control.

Some things are beyond our immediate control, such as the weather, the nature of the industry we work in, the times offered for our favorite fitness class, and other people letting us down. There’s not a lot we can do about these situations, yet we focus on them anyway. We allow these uncontrollable factors to become excuses for not living to our fullest. The worst part is that these components distract us from the matters we can control, such as, our preparedness, our creativity, and our ability to prioritize. A feeling of frustration is like a red flag being waved; it’s a key indicator of us focusing on the wrong factors. We need to pay attention to when we feel this way, especially if we find a recurring theme, and switch our thoughts to something more useful. For example, if we want to go on a hike with a friend, but it could rain, make a pact to go regardless of weather and be prepared with some rain gear. If we get caught in unexpected traffic on our way to a meeting, we can be creative about possible approaches to the situation. Maybe pull off the road and call in to the meeting, and then follow up with a 10 minute coffee regroup once we do get there. Or if obligations are pulling us in too many directions, instead of getting overwhelmed, we can prioritize what we value most, and let the rest go.

Take action: Next time you’re stuck in frustration mode, make two lists. One for the contributing factors you can’t control, and one for those you can. Consider where you’ve been spending most of your energy. If it’s on the wrong list, make a switch and refocus.

Inspired by Jason Selk, Tom Barton and Matthew Rudy’s book, Organize Tomorrow Today: 8 Ways to Retrain Your Mind to Optimize Performance at Work and in Life.

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