Career Corner: Controlling Forces

– Courtesy photo

By Angela Copeland

One of the most frustrating feelings can be a loss of control. There are things you wish you could influence. You try. You go out of your way to plan for everything that could go wrong. This can feel especially true at work, where there are so many things that can impact your ability to succeed.

When you find yourself in a frustrating situation, it’s important to step back for a moment. Ask yourself what’s really in your control, and what’s not. So often, we get caught up in the pieces not in our control. We wish for different outcomes. We play out different scenarios in our minds. We spend a lot of time and mental energy thinking about what went wrong, and what we could do differently.

But, the thing is, you can’t beat yourself up. If you’ve done your best, you have to let the rest go. Now, does that mean you should accept things that you don’t agree with? Absolutely not. You’ve got to take note of them. Write them down in a journal, so you can keep track and remind yourself later. Don’t dismiss your feelings.

Then, when you’re in a better space, reflect on what went wrong. What was in your control, and what was outside of it? Sometimes, the things outside of your control are related more to company culture than to any one thing. There may have been something you could have done differently. But, there may have also been larger forces at work.

With that said, acknowledging the impact of outside forces on your life is important. For example, if you’re working in a toxic work environment, pay attention. If you’ve done everything within your control and things are still too difficult to feel comfortable, it may be time to move on.

Now, I’m not suggesting you run from job to job. Every job has pros and cons. ¬†Simply running from place to place won’t fix the issue. But, sometimes you come across a work culture that’s more than you can bear.

Perhaps you don’t feel safe at work. Or, maybe workplace gossip is intense. Or, you may have an overly negative and critical boss. Whatever the issue is, you have to be honest with yourself. If you’re truly unhappy about outside forces that are impacting you, you have to look for other options. It will allow you to take your control back. It will allow you to find your power.

You don’t have control over the behavior of other people. But, you can control how you react. You can keep a positive attitude in the face of difficult times. You can decide when it’s time to move on. Keep your focus on what is within your control, so that you can move past what isn’t. This will not only allow you to take control but will prevent what’s outside of your control from controlling you.¬†

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at

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