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Focus On What's In Your Control

focus on what's in your control

Sarah Polacco
Achieve Fitness Director and Head Coach

I was feeling

super anxious about participating in a strength challenge put on by StrongFirst, an organization in which I highly respect the people, and the principles that they teach. I had attempted this feat of strength multiple times but the anxiety of performing in front of a lot of people made me feel extremely nervous and provoked feelings of anxiety up to weeks before hand. Lots of people wanted to offer me training advice, which was all in good nature, but the best advice I got was about mental prep and changing my mindset around the event. The great part is this mental reframing has now permeated into the rest of my life!

Feeling in or out of control is a big part of feeling anxious. When we feel out of control, or like we are not in the know, we feel like we are not participating in our own outcome and this can often times lead to feelings of anxiety, nerves, and fear. Understanding what we can control of, kind of have control over and have no control over can great help this feeling of being in the driver seat of your life.   

As we go through each category, we will use two different types of life examples to show how we can create these sort of lists. Let’s use the example of running your first 5k and a big presentation you have for work.

Now let’s look at what we can control. It is really important to be honest in this section. If you are any less than 100% certain you can control a factor then is does not belong in this section. Some of the factors that may show up in this section include your preparation, what you might wear, your schedule or timeline, and what you may physically wear during a specific event.

For your first 5k, you can control your training by follow a systemized program, getting a coach, joining a group, reading about people’s experiences, and trust in the process of training. You can control what you wear by mapping out exactly the shoes, socks, shorts or pants, shirt, undergarments (yes or no), head band (yes or no), headphones (yes or no), watch (yes or no) and whatever else you may wear on your body. You can control the food you eat by practicing what food makes you feel most energized and strong during a training run. You can control the schedule of training as well as the location by choosing a 5k that fits your training schedule timeline and is in an optimal location for you. And you can even control the exact music you listen to day of to get you pumped!

Now let’s move on to your work presentation. You can control your preparation for the presentation in terms of the quality of work you put into it but you may not be able to control the time allotted to prepare. You also have control of how you, yourself actually present in terms of posture, language, and tone of voice during the presentation. This type of life situation has a lot of variables and as I said, we only want to put what we are 100% sure we can control in the control section. There may be more aspects within your control but for now I will put a majority of those kind of things in the kind of control category.

After we figure out what we absolutely can control, we want to figure out the things we have some control over but maybe not 100%. These types of things often relate to the day of. Sleep is almost always an aspect you only kind of can control this as well as your emotions day of.


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