As the calendar flips to 2022, uncertainty in the future is casting a shadow over the annual optimism associated with the start of a new year. Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, a survey reports high percentages of U.S. adults are struggling with daily decisions because they’re stressed about the virus.
Over 60 percent of respondents in The Harris Poll said the pandemic has made them rethink how they were living their life, and about half said it has made planning for their future feel impossible.
Much as a business owner takes great care in managing their employees and products, people in these challenging times need to re-evaluate how they manage themselves in order to lower stress, improve their relationships and productivity, and increase their happiness.
Each of us must manage the product that is our life. You are not the only customer of the product that is your life. Everyone you know is a customer. And just like with any product, you won’t be right for everyone; any product that tries to please everyone inevitably pleases no one.
I’ve made the decision to love my customers. If you make that decision, you’re deciding to love everyone you meet, no exceptions. Look for a path that gives you real happiness, even through trials. Value yourself enough to manage yourself and your own effort. It all starts with knowing what we can and can’t control, and acting accordingly.
Here are three areas in which you can better manage yourself while improving the things you can control:
1. Prioritize your attitude.
Sometimes, people let bad results give them a bad attitude. But the outcome shouldn’t be the primary focus and at the detriment of waning self-esteem. You can still take pride in things like your approach, your discipline, your growing competence and your professionalism. A good attitude doesn’t mean you feel good; it means you’re open to the possibility that something good can come from your current situation.
You need to divorce your attitude from results in order to master your attitude. If you wait for better results to improve your attitude, you may wait a long time. And as soon as results get worse, so will your attitude.
2. Align your best effort with your best attitude.
Like attitude, effort should be divorced from results. Effort often falters when we feel unappreciated. Other people’s appreciation of our effort is unimportant. Only you know if you gave something your best. Control your effort so you can control your self-respect.
Spend your effort on things that create value. Many things that take a lot of effort are of little value. Some things that take no effort – such as saying thank-you – are invaluable in the right circumstance.
3. Own your schedule.
Controlling the vast majority of your schedule may seem impossible, but it’s not. Block out time for thinking, research, writing, planning, etc. Put those times on your calendar. Treat each time like an appointment, and don’t violate it. You can also create office hours where you’re available for ad hoc conversations.
If you attend every meeting, accept every invitation and return every email, you’ll be a responsive wreck, or you’ll work 80 hours a week, and that’s just as bad. Don’t forget it’s your schedule. Own it and control it. And when you get interrupted, perform some quick triage with a prioritization criterion. Follow your priorities.
Knowing what you can and can’t control is critical to finding success in work and happiness in life. We need humility and courage to take command of what we can control and accept what we can’t. Spend your energy on things where you can make a difference. Let go of things you can’t control. If you want happiness and peace of mind, you have to do it.
Tom Noser is the author of “Fortune’s Path: 12 Steps To Manage Your Most Important Product-You“. He is the founder and president of Fortune’s Path, a multidisciplinary consultancy in product, marketing and sales. Tom helped grow one of healthcare’s first SaaS companies from 1 million users to over 4 million while quadrupling revenue and achieving a 10x improvement in the stock price. He founded Fortune’s Path to help SaaS companies grow rich by pursuing virtue.