I wanted to talk about a topic that has been relevant in my life over the past few months. This topic is control. There are three points I wanted to discuss about this topic.
First, something is almost always controlling your life. The time that you spend during the day, your actions, and your words are all influenced by some sort of motivation. There are plenty of things that we can be motivated by, whether money, entertainment, or acceptance. Those things have, at the very least, the potential to influence our decisions.
This idea has become clear to me just through observation, especially in the “business world”. People in some areas of business work for most of the day, if not the entire day, during certain times of the year. This time consumption can lead to someone being controlled, in a sense, by what happens at work. If you have a bad day at work, it results in an overall bad day. Since work becomes a majority of your day, conversations tend to be about work. Whatever your motivation for working is (money, experience, enjoyment, etc.), if work is what you invest most of your time and efforts into, it will be a huge influence on your decisions.
Now all that is not to say that work is a bad thing, by any means. Hard work is something to be valued. But the point is that whether something is “good” or “bad”, it has potential to control your life, sometimes to a large extent.
I had an experience involving this idea very recently. Over the last few months, I was studying for the CPA accounting certification exam while working during the auditing “busy season”. At first things were going fine, but after six weeks I started to fall behind with studying. Since I was in the middle of studying, I decided to stick with my scheduled test date and keep going.
Slowly my daily decisions began to be controlled by this situation. My entire day, aside from eating times, involved accounting, whether at work or studying various topics. I started to sleep less, tried to get ready faster in the morning, and dropped other things I would typically do just to save time. I did not notice it at first, but those things were taking a mental toll on me. I had a hard time concentrating and understanding things at work. I sometimes felt too drained to associate with people. And I felt that I was in an unending swarm of busyness.
Of course, working and studying to reach a goal are both not bad things in themselves. But I was motivated to get the CPA exam done as soon as I could, and that motivation led to harmful decisions over a period of a few weeks.
The second observation I want to make comes from that experience. Sometimes, you do not notice when something gradually takes a hold of your life. Eventually you reach this point of realization where you wonder, “How did I get to this point?” Even if you realize how much something has harmed you, the control may be so great that you just can’t let go of that thing.
This point is especially true for things that have addictive properties, such as alcohol. Many people have gone through a process of starting to drink alcohol, and as time goes they drink more (in terms of frequency AND volume!) Eventually alcohol controls the person to the extent that they care more about getting their fill of alcohol than anything else.
This process begins with a few drinks of alcohol, and over time alcohol becomes more and more of an influence in the person’s life. With the addictive nature of alcohol, once a “realization” moment hits, it may be extremely difficult to give up that influence, even if this new lifestyle is harmful physically or emotionally.
Something does not have to contain addictive substances to be difficult to give up. A job may be hard to give up when you reach an income level you accustomed to. An obsession with Facebook may be hard to give up when you are used to checking it so much. You may constantly turn to pornographic material if you are controlled by sexual desires. These are just a few of the things that can attract our time and attention to the extent that it can be pushed to the forefront of our lives.
Keeping in mind that something almost always influences your thoughts and actions, my last point comes down to a question: What is worthy of being in control of your life?
Logically, something like alcohol is not worthy of being in control of your life. It can harm you if you constantly drink large amounts of alcohol, even to the point of death. It can cause you to do things that will cause more harm or lifelong regret. Still, many people drink alcohol frequently for acceptance, the feeling of getting drunk, or other reasons.
You can make a strong case for work being worth it. Work allows you to be able to acquire the money necessary to live and to enjoy other things. And many people have jobs involving their biggest passion in life.
In part 2, I will extend the question: what is most worthy of being in control of your life?