Who's calling your shots?

From Fizzled from Fired Out: Part 3 – Locus of Control

Imagine a scenario where something awesome has just happened. How do you respond? You are here

“Woohoo, yay for me! I worked so hard and I totally deserve this!”

“Not sure why this happened – must’ve gotten lucky.”

The response here holds the key to your locus of control.

Locus of control is one of my favorite topics to teach, and I do teach it, every single semester, to my college students, with the intention of opening their eyes to be observers of their own behavior.

Because locus of control is a game changer.

Here’s the definition we use in class: Locus of control is your personal belief regarding what controls your behavior.

Do you believe that you are in control of what happens to you in your life? Or do you believe that other people or outside forces determine your fate?

Do you make your life happen? Or let life happen to you?

The evidence is in your behavior.

There are two types of locus of control. People who have an internal locus of control are able to take responsibility for their failures and their successes. When they make a mistake, they step into the space of learning, take responsibility, and do what they can to fix it.

When they succeed, they are able to accept praise with grace and celebrate that their hard work has paid off.

When your locus of control is external, failures are the fault of someone or something other than you. Successes are due to luck or ease of a task.

Common language from someone with an external locus of control might be:

I was going to, but…
My house was too messy
I am just too busy

Some of my favorite ones from students are:
My roommate wouldn’t let me study
My boss insisted that I come to work last night when I was supposed to be home writing my paper
I couldn’t get to Tallahassee because I was stuck in Orlando

And you wouldn’t believe how many grandmothers die in any given semester!

But what you might be wondering is, what does locus of control have to do with fizzling out?

When we are fizzled out, tired, drained, and just exhausted, we don’t have any power left. We have done something to give away our zest, our creative juice, and we are left deflated and uninspired.

The same thing happens when we behave from an external locus of control.

When we fail to take responsibility for our own circumstances, we give away a slice of our own power. This can have many disguises: lying, excuse-making, ignoring, pointing fingers. Whichever it is, when we do it over and over, we are left feeling tired, drained, exhausted, deflated, and uninspired.

We fizzle out.

The bright side here is that when we step into our power and own not only who we are, but how we have chosen to behave, we stand a little straighter.

We claim our victories. We review what happened when we didn’t reach a goal, decide on a new course of action, and try again.

We learn as we go and we remember that learning is part of this process called life.

We know that ultimately we are responsible for creating our own place in the world. We recognize that if we don’t like our place, it’s our job to change it.

When we reach this place, when we make choices and take responsibility from an internal locus of control, we might:

Ask for help when we need it
Implement systems that help us keep our energy so that we no longer waste precious minutes looking for our keys or loading the dishwasher during our most creative time of day
We are inspired by our plans, goals, and intentions and take regular action to achieve them

We flare, spark, pop. We fizzle.

Like this article? Please feel free to use it on your own blog or newsletter. I simply ask that you please include this blurb:
Sara Marchessault is a coach, writer, teacher, and mom who helps busy women use journaling to create more space in their life for being productive without feeling overwhelmed. To learn more about Sara and her work in the world, please visit joyfulbydesign.com or saramarchessault.com.

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