Happy 2018 – Day 203 – Doing your best: What you can and can’t control

“Just do your best,” is something that I’ve both had said to me and said to others many, many times. It’s something often said, when we’re feeling nerves in our bellies, usually when we’re about to do something fantastically frightening and character-building. As child-like as this advice seems, I think it’s spot on.

I’ve blogged numerous times on the subject of fear and control – or rather, a loss of control. When I broke down my own fears, I came to the conclusion that everything came down to this one thing. Whether it was fear of public speaking, heights, spiders, career failure, whatever! In some way, every single thing came down to my fear that I couldn’t control events/actions/reactions around me.

Mindfulness practice has helped me dramatically here, as well as this Circle of control activity. I’m very aware of what I can and can’t control. For example, if I have to speak publicly, I can’t control how my body reacts; the physical sensations of fight, flight or freeze. But I can control my breathing. I can control how invested I am in my thoughts, choosing to watch them from a distance and question their validity. I can control whether I let my attention rest on panicked thoughts, or I instead tune into the feeling of my feet on the floor.

The problem is that sometimes there’s a mix of what we can and can’t control.

For example, let’s say you go for a job interview. You spend huge amounts of time researching the role and the company, preparing in any and every way you possibly can. You look after yourself with good food, exercise and positive self-talk. You’re all set, super excited to show off your killer skill-set and amazing new interview outfit. At this point now,  you’ve done everything possible within your control to get this job.

So if there’s been an accident on the motorway, resulting in you getting there an hour late, you really can’t do anything about that. You can choose to not let this bother you when you arrive, but you can’t control whether the interviewer puts a mark against your name because of this.

Let’s say there’s no traffic. You arrive early, shake hands and make an awesome first impression. In fact, the whole interview goes brilliantly. For the first time ever, you’re completely confident that you nailed it! You’ve done your best. But that doesn’t mean you’ll get the job.

You can’t control whether the interviewee feels that you’re a good fit for the company or not; whether another candidate has more experience, or perhaps is just better at selling themselves; whether there’s pressure from elsewhere to appoint an internal candidate; or whether the interviewer just doesn’t like the look of your face on that particular day.

Life isn’t fair – shit happens. How many promotions have you seen go to the cockiest person, rather than the best? 

At the end of the day, all you can do is your best.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Life’s too short to worry about things that you have zero control over. Do the best you can with the things within your control and you can go away feeling happy and proud, regardless of the result.

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