Lacking Control? Use This Quick Checklist

Jordan Brown

You're feeling out of control.

And it's coming from the lack of it. The control.

There are good reasons why you would need control in your life.

But not all of them are ones you can do something about.

Or should do anything about.

What if I told you that there are only certain areas you should try to control in your life?

By the time you read through this, you'll know a heck of a lot more about control.

And you'll have strategies you can try today.

What is Lack of Control?

Let's start with a fictitious example that is totally not based on examples from my life whatsoever. :)

Imagine Jiminy Cricket (let's call him JC for short) wants to have a better relationship with his friend, Derek.

There are things that JC can control, and there are things that he can't control.

And the things that he can't control are driving him crazy.

So he's doubling down on what he can control.

Things like:

  1. How often he reaches out to Derek
  2. What he says and does not say to him
  3. How available he makes himself to talk or hang out

But still, Derek wants to hang out and catch up with JC.

Except it's always on Derek's terms.

"I can hang out here on Monday at 11:21 PM."

"Why don't you drive over here? It will only take you 20 minutes."

JC has had enough.

He's tried to put up boundaries and tell Derek that he'd like to meet halfway. He's tried to suggest other times and days to hang out, but those requests haven't been exactly direct for fear of hurting the friendship.

Resentment is building for JC, and it's all stemming from a lack of control about who gets to decide what in the friendship.

What to Do When You're Lacking Control

Beep boop. I don't like this controlling friendship very much.

At this point, you might be thinking about examples from your own life for which you wish you had more control.

I want you to hold that thought because we're going to get to it in a second.

First, let's come up with a goal to help you get more control in your life. Let's make it a healthy goal.

Goal: The point is not to be able to control every aspect of your life. That will lead to so much rigidity that you will no longer be able to act with spontaneity. The goal is to have just enough control that you can direct and guide the areas of your life that are important to you.

Now that we have a realistic, healthy goal, it's time to do the work.

The Control Checklist (What to do to get more control in your life)

First, you must decide what's worth your time and energy.

You must decide what needs to be controlled in the first place.

When you're committing to gaining more control over something, you're investing your precious time and energy.

You can't get time back, and your energy must be slowly be restored. So this step is crucial.

Second, you must act differently than you currently are.

There are reasons why you're feeling out of control, some of them psychological, for sure, but many that are within your reach to change with simple actions.

Some actions you could take include:

  • Choosing a boundary and sticking with it (i.e. "I will meet here and not there. I will be available three days a week, not at a moment's notice.)
  • Saying no more often (Sometimes, lack of control comes from being spread too thin)
  • Create rules for yourself (I'll only do this when I've had at least 7 hours of sleep, I will only take meetings if I have at least a 15 buffer before them to prepare and decompress)

Third, you must constantly reassess and recalibrate.

You don't suddenly have control of your life after you take one action.

I wish it were that easy.

But the reality is that maintaining healthy control over your life is a process that never ends.

However...it can get easier.

My favorite way to assess the control that I have is to do a weekly review.

Each week I set aside time to see how I spent my time, what I got accomplished, and how I would like to spend my time in the week ahead.

Think of this like building a ship. As long as the foundation of a ship is solid, you can be pretty confident that no major issues will happen, that water won't come rushing in to destroy everything inside.

Not building in times to check in with yourself is like flinging out a piece of cardboard into the ocean and hopping on. You might be OK for a while, but everything can fall apart at a moment's notice.

You Can Feel More in Control of Your Life

A simple checklist can become your best friend.

It can become a better friend than Derek was to Mr. JC.

It does take a little preparation and slowing down to figure out what's making you feel so out of control in the first place.

Sometimes you need to slow down to speed up.

And you can't control everything.

But if you put in the work up front, you can be confident that you're spending your time controlling the stuff that truly matters to you.