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Controlling the Controllable

I have always been one to crave control; control over when events happen, how people perceive me, what impact certain actions may carry. I like to be in charge and I like predictability such that I may grapple challenges as they materialize. I’m certainly not ashamed to admit this nor do I think I’m anywhere close to being alone in that regard. Humans are, generally speaking, autonomous creatures; we like being the predictors of our own success. The scribes, if you will, of our future. This is completely natural and, most of the time, not even a bad thing; a measured desire for control can unveil our inner ‘fighter,’ and vehemently push us to pursue dreams.

However, when it comes to accomplishing goals and resolutions, that craving for control can be detrimental. Because, as fate would have it, not everything that occurs in our life is directly under our influence. We cannot control the weather, the opinions of peers, or the traffic on our way to work (just to name a very, very few). Similarly, while we do have liberty to choose goals as we desire, whether we actually achieve them is not 100% governable (Leslie, 2011). For example, we may say: “This year I will get that promotion I so deserve.” This desire, though, is contingent upon various factors: your boss, the credence of your coworkers, the financial stability of your company/place of work, etc.

Goal-setting and resolution success, then, must revolve around that which we can directly affect. In effect, we must focus solely on ourselves and personal footprint. Let’s once more take the example of that job promotion; you cannot necessarily force your boss to form a certain opinion of you and neither can you predict economic slumps that might require lay-offs/promotion stalls. Nonetheless, you can absolutely mold your work ethic, the demeanor with which you treat your coworkers, the new ideas you bring to the table. The way we conduct ourselves en route to a resolution or goal is truly our own.

With this in mind, TOPPS encourages you to utilize the TRIPLE A APPROACH when handling goals (you can learn more about the Triple A Approach by signing up for our email list). These three steps will help center you as the New Year progresses and you continue tackling those resolutions!

  1. AVOID focusing on the negative: with each perceived ‘failure,’ try to find positive take-aways. Often defeats are just learning experiences in disguise!

  2. ADJUST your emotions: sometimes we run into obstacles or must do things we would rather not. It helps to mold the way in which we perceive these unwanted factors. Stay flexible and openly receptive to whatever life throws!

  3. ACKNOWLEDGE your Grit and capacity for success: You can do it! Remind yourself of your strengths and past triumphs; it brings you back to yourself, even amidst possible doubt or insecurity. In effect- you have succeeded before and you can, and will, succeed again.

The TRIPLE A Approach gives us strength in the areas over which we have control, especially as we stretch for our goals! I’m personally working to master step 1; redirecting negative musings builds confidence and self-awareness. Speaking of Self Awareness, for the month of February, TOPPS will focus on Self Appreciation and Self Love! Join us next month as we explore these topics!


Leslie, Steve (24 Jan, 2011). Internal Goals. Retrieved from

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