Don’t Worry About What You Can’t Control

Happy holidays everyone!

To many people, the holidays are a time of great stress, and today I'd like to share a little story about how you can reduce your stress and free up your energy for the things that really matter.

Several months back, I was helping a high school student through the college admissions process. For most teenagers, this is a stressful time – years of effort resulting in a series of large and small envelopes that will dictate their entire future. After countless hours of work, we were finally ready to send everything off.

A few weeks later, I got a call from the student. “Vik, I keep thinking we left something out of the application; I just have this feeling that we missed something, you know? I’m really stressed and I’m not quite sure what to do.”

My response was simple: you’ve done all you can, so don’t stress about it anymore. It isn’t within your control now, so don’t worry about what happens. Focus on keeping up your grades and enjoy the rest of your senior year.

It is amazing how much time and energy we waste on things we can’t control. I do it all the time. Yesterday I was in the line at the grocery store, and there was this guy in front of me who was taking FOREVER. I waited for 10 minutes while he figured out how he was going to pay. I really wanted to give him a piece of my mind.

But what good would that have done? It would have just delayed the situation even more! I wasn’t in any position to make things better, so the best thing for me to do was to sit tight…and calm down.  Getting into an argument would have sucked me into a black hole – lots of time, effort, and aggravation with no potential reward.

So don’t stress about the unknown and the uncontrollable. Instead, focus on the activities where you do have some control – your health, your relationships, your career. Here’s a little trick: the next time you find yourself really stressed, take a deep breath and think about WHY you are really stressed out. If it’s something you can change – great – you’ve found an opportunity for personal growth. But otherwise, don’t sweat it! You’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll feel.

Have you ever stressed about something you can’t control? How did you get over it?

2 Responses to “Don’t Worry About What You Can’t Control”

  1. Good stuff Vik. The older I get, the more I just 'let it go'. If I can't control it, and if it's outside of my circle of influence, then it just is what it is.
    When it comes down to it, 'worry' my actually be the number one 'killer' in our society.
    Best to you in 2011 Vik.

  2. Ett says:

    Today I waited three hours for a bureaucrat to enter things I had written on a form into a computer.  I didn't know it would take that long, so I brought nothing to read or do and was forced to watch CNN the whole time.
    I coped by giving up hope, thinking that I would be stuck in that office until the end of the day and that my parking bill would be $25.  When I was able to get out of the office four hours before the close of business and was forced to shell out $25 for parking, it didn't seem so bad.

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