First thing’s first, what is an internal locus of control? I admit, it sounds a little loosey-goosey, but hear me out. An internal locus of control is a deep understanding that you, not fate, are in control of your destiny. And where you go in life (both figuratively and literally) is a result of your choices, not some overall unintelligible “plan.”
I’ve learned recently that mindset is everything. What you believe, say and feel controls so much more of your actions than most people understand. I’ve always been one of those people that ignored the “mindset” argument and followed a more logical path, but it turns out I was wrong. The idea that you are truly in charge of your own path is a very freeing one — so much so that apparently those with an internal locus of control live less stress-filled and more fulfilling lives.
And from personal experience, I can attest that this is true. So, here’s how you develop your own:
Understand the Gravity of Choice
Life really is just a series of choices. There are the choices we make because we want to, which as we get older seem to get further and fewer. Then, there are those that we make because we think we have to and those that we make because they’re easier. But at the end of the day everything from what you decide to eat, whether you go in to work in the morning and whether you watch the latest show on Netflix or park yourself on the couch and go through the notes from your 3 p.m. meeting is a choice.
An internal locus of control is all about understanding this concept of choice. And the fact that everything we do is a choice is true for everyone, not just those that believe it’s true. Most of us ignore choice and go with the path that we think we’re supposed to go on, citing some big plan in the works. However, deciding that you alone define your own fate is a very freeing and empowering feeling.
Granted, there are situations where this is more difficult. In situations where your mental health is in a particularly low spot it can be a challenge to just suddenly decide to change but in this case, those with an internal locus of control have an understanding that they have the ability to ask for and seek help, and the choice of how to cope with their situation.
Carefully Consider All Options
Carefully considering all of your options does not mean that you need to spend 20 minutes every morning deciding whether you’re going to eat Cheerios or Wheaties for breakfast. It simply means that when it comes to making decisions, especially big ones, you take the time to really consider your options.
Sometimes evaluating these options is easier when you have someone to bounce ideas off of, and people with an internal locus of control understand this. Getting a friend or family member to help brainstorm all of the possibilities with you, then taking them back on your own and contemplating them can be a great process for setting up that internal locus of control.
Make Decisions Based on What’s Best
Once you understand that you have a choice and start to consider all of your options, when it comes to making the actual decision it’s important to make the decision that’s best for you. Not necessarily the one that’s easiest or the one that you think you should make, but the one that’s truly best.
I went through this decision-making process when I decided to leave my corporate job. I had a decent job that gave me a good salary, benefits and what I perceived as security, but I was so incredibly unhappy. So much so that most of the time I was unable to describe what about it made me feel that way. So, I sat down to evaluate my options. I asked friends and family members to give me their thoughts. And eventually, I decided to leave. It would have been easier for me to stay, collect a paycheck and continue with a job I was good at, but that wasn’t the best decision for me.
Improve Your Language
One of the things that makes it most possible to have an internal locus of control is a shift in your language. We’re only human, so we’re filled with doubts and hesitations but to fully understand choice, evaluate our options and make the decision that’s best for us, we need to work with a positive mindset and empowering language.
Your mindset can positively or negatively impact your actions, and to get that positive impact you need to have a positive mindset. If you don’t believe in and trust yourself, you’ll never trust yourself enough to make the best decisions or believe that you can make whatever it is you’re trying to happen.
Developing Your Internal Locus of Control
Developing your internal locus of control is not going to happen overnight. It’s a task that takes genuine effort and patience. But, if you’re ready to do it and committed to making it happen, it is completely possible. Seriously, I’m a walking, talking example of it.
Do you have an internal locus of control? Tell me how you maintain it in the comments below.
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