Do you ever have the feeling like you’re a little out of control? Do you ever feel like blaming anything or everything besides yourself for not being where you’d like to be? I was having a debate last night about Calvinism and Arminianism with my family. Are we fatalists or do we believe we have free-will? Do we really have control over our lives? I originally went into a lengthy debate one whether or not we have control over our own lives, but I figured you didn’t come here to hear that the only way you can possibly control your life is if a supernatural being gave you control (which is what I believe). Luckily for you I deleted the rest of that internal debate and skipped to why you need to believe you do have control over your life.
Why you need to believe you have control
Believing that we control our lives is very critical to the success and happiness of an individual. In psychology (I’m not a psychologist so be patient with my following explanation) there is a term called “locus of control”. When we have an internal locus of control, we believe we control many of the factors in our lives, while an external locus of control means we do not believe we control many of the factors in our lives. For someone with an external locus of control, things may appear to be fatalistic while someone with an internal locus of control may be more motivated to work towards success. Here is a short list of reasons why you should believe you have control over your own life:
- You will accumulate more wealth – Cobb-Clark, Kassenboehmer, and Sinning (2016) did a study on households that have an individual at the head who has an internal locus of control vs. household’s whose head has an external locus of control and ultimately determined that households that have an internal mentality saved more when compared to the external households were at the same income level. The gap was even greater among poorer families than rich families. The fact that wealth is determined by a belief that we can control our spending and saving is very reasonable. If you believe you can control spending, paying bills, planning, and saving you’re more likely to put a plan in place to do it. It all starts with belief. Believe you can change and get your budget in order today. I use Mint.com to track my expenses, and more importantly our families net worth. Make sure you are doing something similar in your own life.
- You will be in better shape – Individuals who have an internal locus of control have a better chance of being in better shape. This relationship has been demonstrated to be causal, and not simply correlated by Neymotin and Nemzer (2014). This is another one that logically makes sense. If you believe that diet and working out makes a difference you will make changes in both to accomplish your desired outcome. If you need to download a calorie counting app or a work out app such as Bodyspace, make sure you do it. Taking small steps like this to controlling your health can ultimately pay large dividends in the future.
- You’ll be better at your job- In a study on job performance and job satisfaction it was determined that employees who have an internal locus of control performed better at their jobs (Patten, 2005). Again, if you don’t believe that you’ll be successful in your job, how determined and motivated will you be to put in the extra effort to achieve success? I have plenty of posts at how to be more successful, but it all starts with defining what success looks like in your life.
- You’ll be more successful in your relationships – I want to preface this by saying that this won’t always be the case. Research has shown that relationships between two individuals who have an internal locus of control have very fulfilling relationships and successful marriages (Camp & Ganong, 1997). It also can lead to frustration if one of the individuals in the relationship is an internal while the other is an external. The external may feel like the internal is constantly trying to change who they are. In my own life, I knew that my marriage would be a great one. The reason I knew this is because both my wife and I believe that we will make it great. Failure was not an option for us, and it still isn’t to this day, and we’ve been happily married for almost 9 years.
- It’ll make you better at everything – Honestly I just got sick of looking more research to tell me what I already know at this point. If you believe you can do something you’re much more likely to be able to do it. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, father, husband, student, employee, etc. the only way to obtain it is to believe you can in the first place.
In reality the point of me writing this is to convince you that you need to believe you can control your life. If you don’t believe that you can control outcomes you have to figure out a way to believe. If you don’t believe you can figure out a way to believe, you need to figure out a way to believe that you can figure out a way to believe.
Thanks for reading and remember to believe that you can be great today!
Camp, P. L., & Ganong, L. H. (1997). Locus of control and marital satisfaction in long-term marriages. Families in Society, 78(6), 624-631. 10.1606/1044-3894.3393
Cobb-Clark, D. A., Kassenboehmer, S. C., & Sinning, M. G. (2016). Locus of control and savings. Journal of Banking and Finance, 73, 113-130. 10.1016/j.jbankfin.2016.06.013
Neymotin, F., & Nemzer, L. R. (2014). Locus of control and obesity. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 5, 159. 10.3389/fendo.2014.00159
Patten, D. M. (2005). An analysis of the impact of locus-of-control on internal auditor job performance and satisfaction. Managerial Auditing Journal, 20(9), 1016-1029. 10.1108/02686900510625343