The chart above is a Venn diagram that shows a powerful concept. The left side represents important things in your life. The right side represents what’s within your control. And the overlap is where you should focus your efforts.
Important Things vs What You Can Control
There are a lot of important events in your life and the world… but when you spend time trying to change things outside of your control, you add unnecessary stress. It’s often counter-productive. And one vivid example comes from presidential elections…
Political campaigns naturally polarize people. That’s how they get people attached to candidates and into voting booths. But as a result, some debates can ruin family gatherings, friendships and work relationships. Yet, the average person doesn’t have an impact on the outcome (statistically speaking). Here’s a compelling argument as to Why I Don’t Vote in presidential elections.
Already, half the people reading this will discount my research. The simple statement “I don’t vote” runs counter to what many people believe. Their emotional response kicks in… but I challenge everyone reading to try to be objective. It’s not easy to do.
There’s no doubt that presidential elections are important but the outcome is likely out of your control. With that said, it’s still important to know what’s going on in the world. Throughout your life, some important things – that were once out of your control – will shift to within your control.
Living and Learning with Mental Models
The circles above simplify the big idea, but in reality, the lines are blurred. Over time, the points move around within the circles. Without making it too convoluted, let’s add one more important factor.
The third bubble below represents your understanding of the world…
The overlap of all three circles is where you should focus your efforts. If you do that, your understanding of the world grows…
Knowledge growth happens naturally as you age. You learn more about the important things in life. And you also gain more control over your body and the environment… but focusing on the overlap area will improve the rate at which you learn. This approach also maximizes your total potential understanding of the world.
Our actions compound and compounding is a powerful cross-disciplinary concept. You hear it often in the financial world with investing… but good decisions also build up over time. Good decisions often lead to even better decisions.
Mental Model Review for a More Productive Life
There are a many important things in your life. But you have little-to-no control over most of them. So start worrying more about what you can control. As your thought process and efforts become more productive, your stress levels drop.
If you find yourself in a tough situation, start by asking yourself… what’s most important and what can I control? That helps put things in perspective and can improve your productivity by leaps and bounds.
P.S. Here’s another simple trick that lowers stress and improves lives… Fake Smile Psychology.