Why the Budget should only command so much of your attention.
You can’t change the Budget.
I’m sorry to say but that’s the reality of it. Unless you do have a direct line to the Chancellor, and the very large majority of us don’t, the budget is entirely out of our hands. It is the cards we are dealt. We can’t change it – it will be what it will be.
That’s why it is important to not let our expectation of and reaction to the Budget consume a disproportionate amount of our attention: “If only…”, “What if…”, “How could he…”
And it is when looking at how we respond to something like the Budget, that I think the Three Circles of Influence model is so powerful, in terms of helping us to assess our priorities and focus our thinking.
The model is split into three circles.
1. The circle of concern
That’s all it is – something which concerns you. Yes, it is something which has an impact on you, something which can affect you and something which can change the state of play of the game you’re in.
But sadly, that’s where it ends. You can’t change it and it’s completely out of your control.
Typical examples would be the Brexit deal, a new US President, or indeed – the Budget. It is something which we will have to deal with, but we cannot control it, and we should remember that when it comes to the level of focus and energy we give to it. Agonising over the circle of concern can be exhausting, fruitless and distract us from areas we can control.
Spare a thought for my husband and the millions of sports fans across the country, willing England to beat Wales in the Rugby Six Nations last Saturday only to see Wales (with the help of the referee!) force too many penalties and smash England at the try line. They were living in the circle of concern (and frustration), but England’s performance and the outcome was entirely out of every fan’s hands.
2. The circle of influence
You can do a bit more here. This might be your voice within an industry body you are part of, or the influence you have on the decisions your company, suppliers and customers make. It should occupy more of your time and thinking but your ability to influence the outcome is finite.
Returning to my sports fan example, this would be the fans in the ground – the fabled ‘12th man or woman’ – who by cheering louder, booing and singing can have some influence on how their team performs.
3. The circle of control
This is where the bulk of your effort, energy and focus should be. This is your reality, where you can influence change and outcomes.
In the context of the sports fan – this is a game you are playing in, where you are ‘on the pitch’ and can directly alter the outcome – you can play harder, make substitutions, change your tactics.
So as the Budget is announced and impacts your world – for better or worse – simply say to yourself “that’s it, this is what I have to deal with”. Then turn your effort and attention to the parts of your reality which you can influence and think about what you need to do next.