Join Forces with Luck: Understanding Your Influence

Sondra worked hard the past five years to make significant changes in her life. Working at a daycare center and attending class at night she went back to school and finished her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. She decided she wanted to become a high school science teacher so she applied to the Education program at her university and began attending classes.

Sondra has a strong belief in luck. Her BA degree, her job, and her Education program—all of these came to her because she was lucky. The only reason she was able to complete her BA was because the school accepted her credits, and she obtained a job at the daycare center because her best friend knew the director. Sondra came to see me because her luck ran out; she was struggling in her classes, working fewer hours (due to budget cuts), and blaming herself.

Sondra’s story is a variation on our discussion in the last article—locus of control. When life was going well Sondra gave the credit to an external locus of control, “luck.” Since Sondra never felt responsible for anything good in her life she didn’t get to experience the pleasure or satisfaction of a job well done, which naturally reinforces positive habits. On the other hand now that her life has some difficulties Sondra shifted to an internal locus of control, taking responsibility for everything. Unfortunately since she’s not responsible for all aspects of the challenges in her life her assessment of what to change is inaccurate. When I started seeing Sondra she was pouring all her time and energy into telling her supervisor how skilled she was at her job and petitioning the university administration to change the class requirements. Sondra and I worked on redefining her external and internal loci of control. She couldn’t control budget cuts (external) however she could apply for another part-time daycare position (internal) and she could access the university’s tutoring program (internal). Sondra continued to believe in luck, but simply shifted her belief system to neither under-value nor over-value her influence.

Take time this week to explore your own loci of control. I’d love to hear about it!