Don’t Stress Over What You Can’t Control

“In sports, the only thing a player can truly control is effort. The same applies to business. The only thing any entrepreneur, salesperson or anyone in any position can control is their effort.” – MARK CUBAN


One lesson that we can all agree that we either learned or re-learned while playing overseas is that “you can only control what you can control” We face a lot of new situations and adversity while playing overseas and it is so easy to find ourselves trying to control all these situations that are beyond our control, no matter how hard we try or how long we stay up at night obsessing about it before sleep. No heat in the apartment, local stores not carrying peanut butter or fresh looking vegetables, sketchy WiFi connection, teammates that don’t work hard, coaches that don’t truly understand the sport and have no business being a coach, rude neighbors, workouts that are too heavy or not enough, practices that run too long or too short, and all the other little things that you wish you could alternate to make your experience better. It’s so easy to let these little things pile up and make the experience a stressful one.


Once we realize the only thing we truly can control is ourselves with our attitude and effort, life becomes MUCH easier and the overseas experience becomes much more manageable.


One thing that has been INCREDIBLY helpful for me is focusing on only what I can control vs what I cannot control is making a list. One one side I write all the things I can not control. Things I cannot control: teammates attitudes, teammates effort at practices, how long practice is the day before a match,  the rude attitude of my teammate, how the coach views my skills, culture barriers, the gloomy weather, my coaches knowledge on the sport. Things Things I can control: How I react to my teammate and her mood, my effort at practice, making sure I got better, staying after to work on, my attitude I brought on the court, my reaction to adversity, not giving into the complaining party, and focusing on getting better.

Once I finally make a differentiation between all the things frustrating me in my mind and only take on the “controllables” I feel so much better and I make an effort to let the “uncontrollables” go and expect them to always be there.


Here is a more “professional” written up approach to figuring out “what you can control” and “what you can not control” list

LTM Challenge (source:

Make a list of the things you worry about. Divide that list into two categories:

1.  Concerns you can do something about

2.  Concerns beyond your control

Beside each of the items you can control, include an action item. For instance, if you worry about the ten pounds you’ve recently gained, put together a plan to do something about it. If you’re concerned about an impending deadline, make a list of all the things required to get the project completed.

Make a commitment to attack everything within your control and be intentional about not worrying about the things you can’t. At first, you’ll find it hard not to worry about the things you can’t control, but if you use self-discipline and refuse to worry about them, it will become easier.

One of the traits of positive people is that they don’t worry about things they can’t control.

Stress stems from the feeling that you can’t control what’s happening, says Sharon Melnick, author of “Success Under Stress.” Limit your stress by accepting that some things are out of your hands. “[M]ake sure that you are effective in what you are doing before you ever allow yourself to lose time and focus in frustration over what is not in your control,” she says.


Right now, you can control:

1. How many times you smile today.
2. How much effort you exert at work.
3. Your level of honesty.
4. How well you prepare.
5. How you act on your feelings.
6. How often you say “thank you.”
7. When you pull out your wallet for luxuries.
8. Whether or not you give someone the benefit of the doubt.
9. How you interpret situations.
10. Whether or not you compete with people around you.
11. How often you notice and appreciate small acts of kindness.
12. Whether you listen or wait to talk.
13. When you walk away from a conversation.
14. How nice you are to yourself in your head.
15. Whether you think positive or negative thoughts.
5o things you can’t control (source:


Don’t worry about what you can’t control!


  • Don’t get consumed with what others think of you because you can’t control that.
  • Don’t worry about conversations you aren’t a part of, because you can’t control those.
  • Don’t stress over future decisions, because you can’t control them today.
  • Don’t get consumed with other people’s behavior when you don’t have control over it.
  • Don’t worry about the future because you DO know the One who controls it!
  • Don’t stress over how things will work out, because as a follower of Christ, you can be confident that all things work together for good.

So then, what can you control?

  • Your attitude.
  • Your work ethic.
  • Your response to others.
  • Your actions.
  • Your words.

The worst thing for stress is trying to take control over uncontrollable things. Because when you inevitably fail — since it’s beyond your control — you only get more stressed out and feel helpless.


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