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Managing Stress – Where to focus your energy

When I have multiple things going on in my life that are causing me stress and worry, I find it helpful to use the Stephen Covey “Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence” exercise. I’ve found it very useful in helping me understand where best to focus my energy.

The way I use it, is to write a list of all the concerns and worries I have going on in my life, and these form my Circle of Concern. I then make a separate list of those concerns which I can influence, this is my Circle of Influence. For example, if I am concerned about my health, then this is something I can influence. I can exercise, eat a healthy diet etc. If I am worried about an asteroid hitting the Earth and wiping out all civilisation, then this is not something I have any influence over and as such is not a good place to focus my time or energy.

Once I have my Circle of Influence, I address each one individually, and put together a plan on how I can manage that concern, creating Goals and Tasks to either remove the concern or manage it better.

It sounds very simple, and it is, but it’s amazing how much time we can spend, worrying about things that are totally out of our control or influence. The above exercise can help bring that focus back to where you can be most productive. I hope this has been helpful.

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Simon Worth

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