Several years ago, Jerry Park (my boss at the time), lead me and my fellow sales VP’s through a thought process exercise that he called The Three Boxes. It was designed to help us to 1) focus our energy on the most worthwhile endeavors, and 2) eliminate frivolous and unhelpful complaining.

It’s simple. Most everything thing in life can be sorted into three boxes. Think of them as columns if it helps.

Box #1 is for everything that we do not control. These aren’t worth complaining about or expending energy in attempts to change them. Nothing we do will affect any change or direction in what we put into this category. This box is for:

• the weather
• my favorite NFL team’s won/loss record
• stock market direction
• the actions of North Korea and Iran and anyone we don’t know
• my wife’s favorite color
• fashions and styles

Box #2 is for things we influence. We can’t dictate exactly how or what these things do. We can do nothing about their existence, but we can influence or shape how they behave, act, hurt, or help. Box #2 is for:

• people’s perceptions of us
• the actions of those we know well
• what colors look best on us
• preferences and likes of people we live with
• risks we are exposed to

Box #3 is for things we control. We absolutely dictate the contents of this box. They are the results of our choices, reactions, and goals we set; and also what we tolerate in ourselves. It can be argued that this box is the most important of the three, if only for the pain or rewards we experience relevant to what we find here:

• our actions and choices
• our attitudes
• expressing love for others
• our preparation for difficult times
• time we invest or waste

So how does this apply to you? Are you struggling overall because you’re just working too hard and getting nowhere? Are you frustrated with others? Do you feel heavy about your job and life overall?I find that I go through this process more often these days.