You Are the Protagonist

“Julian Rotter, a social psychologist, developed the concept of “locus of control,” with some people being ‘externals,’ believing that the environment or other people shape their lives, and others being ‘internals,’ believing that they themselves shape their own lives.”

“Stanford Professor Albert Bandura, today the most-cited living psychologist, touted the concept of ‘self-efficacy.’ An ‘efficacy expectation’ is the belief that you, yourself, can bring about the outcomes you desire, whereas as an ‘outcome expectation’ is the belief that the outcome you desire will simply happen.”

The Hope Circuit: A Psychologist’s Journey for Helplessness to Optimism, by Martin E.P. Seligman.

With 2019 a few weeks away, many of us are designing our next year, developing new goals, drafting up new plans, and committing to new outcomes. Many more of us will have a plan that is nothing more than a “New Year’s Resolution,” and the great majority of those who “resolve” to do something different will need only restate the resolution they’ve used for many years.

I started this process last month, and I have a very long note in Evernote with all of my goals, as well as the disciplines necessary to bring them to life in 2019. My goals are ambitious and audacious because I don’t believe in SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound), the “realistic” criteria being a poor idea, as most of us underestimate what we can accomplish in a year. If you are going to be thinking, why wouldn’t you think big?

I also have a very long document (over 2,000 words) on every aspect of my business with goals, disciplines, and the changes I need to make in each area. It’s a blueprint for 2019 projects, and all that is left for me to do with this document is prioritize the projects. When there are as many as I have written, prioritizing them requires a good deal of thought.

The quotes from Seligman’s wonderful biography are here to remind you that you are the protagonist in your story, not a supporting actress or actor or extra. You are designing your life and living it in real-time. You set the direction of your life, and you make the choices that move you closer to that life—or you abdicate your responsibility and drift, going where the current takes you. In either case, you made a choice.

I can always spot an “external” with an “outcomes expectation.” On the social sites, all of their content is about things over which they have zero control. They post and argue with other people about politics, world affairs, and things they believe are important enough to command their time and attention. When you speak with them, it’s clear they think good things can only happen to them—not because of their actions.

“Internals” are different. They believe they are acting on the world, especially their world, and that their future is something they control. They are “the locus of control.” They aren’t waiting for good fortune or to be discovered or for anything or anyone to provide the outcome they want; they are chasing it down.

The last two weeks of the year is an excellent time to reflect on what you’ve learned in the previous twelve months, to do an accounting of your results (good and bad and ugly), and to develop the plot line for the next year. I don’t know whether this might help flip you from an “external” to an “internal,” but it can’t hurt you to try. If you are already an “internal,” being more intentional might be just what you need to accelerate your results.

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Filed under: Success

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