Circle of Control – What is it?

Uncontrollable outside influences often affect our decision-making, leading to a stressful and unhappy life. The Circle of Control is about taking charge of our decisions, mindset, and emotions which are essential to living a happy and positive life.

The Circle of Control concept was developed by Stephen R. Covey. It has numerous advantages, highlighted in his work “The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People.” It provides fundamental ideas to help individuals protect themselves from situations they cannot manage and profit from those they can.

Almost everyone experiences frustration when things are unmanageable, and nothing seems to help. There are various unruly factors in life which the Circle of Control can help you identify so that you can combat and rid yourself of frustrations.

What Is The Circle Of Control?

Author Stephen R. Covey was the first to introduce and highlight the idea. Covey offers a breakdown of our manageable actions, partially controllable actions, and those we cannot regulate. In short, it represents things we can and cannot influence, and it is divided into three subdivisions, which are:

  • Control–things we can influence directly.
  • Influence–things we can indirectly and partially control.
  • Concern–things we cannot regulate.

According to educator and author Stephen R. Covey, we must focus on things we can influence directly and indirectly. The control circle centers around work ethic, moods, thoughts, mindset, reactions, and attitude and how it influences our lives. To embrace this means having the full power of your attitude, thoughts, and enthusiasm regardless of any third parties’ approval.

Some actions spring from unconscious behavior, affected by repetitive patterns embedded in our environment and upbringing. These actions occur without thought, but they are part of manageable actions and only need to be addressed. Control is awareness plus choice; if the behavior occurs without awareness, there is no way to manage it, and it only becomes controllable in its aware state.

Some factors are only partially controllable and deserve as much attention as manageable ones. Focusing on these factors often results in greater life success because it invokes ambitious behavior. Proactive persons focus much of their efforts on these issues and use their values and decision-making skills.

According to Covey’s analysis, focusing on things out of your control is detrimental to your health and well-being because it leads to anger, stress, worries, accusations, and even victimization. Spending time and effort on manageable behavior often draws a better reaction from the things you do not manage.

Why Is The Circle Of Control Important?

Persons who know the importance and benefits it provides realize that their mental wellness and health improve when they focus on what they can control. Here are three ways it produces a positive impact:

How To Expand Your Circles Of Control

Thus far, reading about it and realizing its importance got your attention, and now you may wonder how to set it in motion. Here are three steps to help you implement and expand your Circles of Control.

Find Your Purpose

It is essential to identify your purpose if you want to take control of your life. Everyone has a purpose, but for many, it is blurry and feels somewhat out of reach. The easiest way to help you identify your purpose is to ask yourself, “What do I believe in?”  Determine what motivates you to live a fulfilling life and help you improve.

Your life’s purpose is often mistaken for your life’s goal, and although they are inextricably linked, they are not the same. Goals are linked to an action, whereas purpose is more about a state of mind and being.

You must find your life mission (purpose) and, when you do, steer your life in that direction. Once you have your life mission, all your other goals will blend in or fade if they do not fit. Implement goals that improve your state of mind rather than a task that stops when completed, and try to implement it across your life and decisions.

Break Your Own Limiting Beliefs

The greatest motivation anyone has is their belief system, but it can also hinder someone, especially if it is biased or limited. Inspecting your belief system and targeting areas where it is flawed and unsustainable is essential. It is not a good idea to relinquish your belief system but to expand and find a stronger perspective.

A belief system fuels the Circles of Control, and it must be challenged to eliminate any limitations and negative impacts it has. Often, what and how we believe restricts us from reaching our life goals, and the first step is to challenge it and then find the courage to act and remove it or expand it.

Develop A Growth Mindset

The biggest threat to your Circles of Control is becoming intellectually passive and thinking that you have reached maximum growth. Everyone has some knowledge, but no one has all the knowledge, and if you pursue growth, it strengthens your Circles of Control. It is essential to establish a growth mentality to increase your intelligence and mental capacity.

Those with a growth mindset encourage curiosity and learning, leading to opportunity, drive, intellect, success, and control.

How To Remain Calm Using The Circle of Control

Sudden outbursts and explosive behavior often result in destructive and negative outcomes where a calm reaction inspires positivity and growth. Although much of life is out of our hands, our reaction often positively impacts the result.

Here are three ways to use the Circle of Control to react calmly to unmanageable factors:

  • Take a moment to assess the situation, get a clear mind, and respond.
  • Prayer often provides calmness, and since the situation is out of our hands, it sometimes helps to relinquish control. 
  • Speak positively no matter the situation to encourage positivity for things we can handle. Staying positive helps to break negative thinking and inspires uplifting.

Staying calm and focusing on control is essential to eradicate anxiety and stress.


The Circle of Control allows everyone to become better in every aspect of life, including their mental wellness, health, and focus. It also helps you avoid and navigate difficult things to manage and increases happiness and positivity.


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