It’s comforting to believe that you can control everything, but you’ll be disappointed when you fail despite your best efforts. To prepare yourself for the inevitable failure once in a while, use reserve clauses when describing your plans.
Photo by Chad.
As advice site Barking Up the Wrong Tree explains, reserve clauses are statements or phrases that acknowledge you don’t have total control over your outcomes. For example, you may say to yourself, “I’m going to get that promotion,” but you can’t really control that outcome. You can influence it, but there are other factors. Instead, saying, “I’m going to do everything I can to get that promotion,” allows for the possibility that you might not be able to succeed even if you try. This helps you be emotionally prepared if your plans don’t work out:
This isn’t an excuse to be lazy. It’s recognising that you have control over process, not outcome. Saying, “I am definitely going to get an A+ on that exam” is a lie. It’s outside your control. But saying, “I am going to study my arse off” is within your control.
And by focusing on what you can control, you also give yourself a plan of action. If you’re just pollyanna optimistic about getting that A+, you can be lazy. By recognising all you have power over is studying, then boom: you know what you need to do next.
This idea has its roots in stoicism which, among other things, acknowledges that you are not in 100 per cent control of your life. Stoicism also teaches that our negative reactions stem from our interpretation of events, rather than the event itself. For example, if you believe you have total control over getting that promotion, you will view not getting it as a personal failure. However, if you acknowledge that forces outside your control exist (like perhaps your boss doesn’t have room in the budget to promote someone), then you can feel satisfied that you did all you can. Reserve clauses may just be a linguistic tool, but they can help you adjust your perceptions to align more with reality.
Stoicism Reveals 4 Rituals That Will Make You Mentally Strong [Barking Up the Wrong Tree]