In times of uncertainty and anxiety, it’s important to remember what you’re in control of and how to take care of yourself, your business and your mindset. Based on Dan Sullivan’s “The ‘Scary Times’ Success Manual,” The Positive+ Mindset series is designed to offer you 10 tangible ways you can maintain a positive outlook, express gratitude, lead with compassion and empathy, and turn negative thoughts into positive ones that will improve your thinking, actions and outcomes. 

Forget about events, focus on your responses.

Why is it that when things are going well, we think we’re in control of events? But when things go wrong, it’s not our fault! When things go wrong, it’s easier to blame external factors like your boss, the weather, your partner or even just bad luck. It’s too easy to get stuck in a loop of negativity and blame when things go wrong. And things will go wrong- that’s life! Bad things happen to everyone and there’s not much you can do to control that. But you can control your responses to negative events to change your outcomes. 

Jack Canfield, renowned motivational speaker and author of “The Success Principles” and the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series, has a simple formula for evaluating our responses to events. 

Event + Response = Outcome

The idea is that everything you experience in life is the result of your response to an event. If your outcomes are negative and you’re not reaching your goals, think about your responses to the event. Do you blame the event for negative outcomes or do you think about your response?

Don’t fall into the trap of blaming external forces for your results. Self-defeating thoughts and behavior will keep you from honestly evaluating your responses to the events that happen in life. 

For example, let’s say you looked at your business numbers for the year and realized you weren’t meeting your production goals and as a result, your income for the year will be lower than last year. Would your first response be to blame external factors (not enough clients, a slow market, too many competitors) or would you take responsibility for the way you responded to those things and how it affected your outcome (less income)?

People who win have the best possible responses to events because they know how they affect the outcomes. 

How can you change your outcomes when things go wrong? 

Too often we think a better life will just happen to us, even though we know operating in the same old habits and ways of thinking will only net us the same results. More production at work, better relationships with family, a healthier lifestyle, smarter financial decisions- these things don’t just happen to us.  Think about what you could accomplish if you took control of your responses to the events that happen in life. 

The key is to give up all excuses and take 100% responsibility for your life, your responses and your outcomes. 

“Unfortunately, most of us are so run by our habits that we never change our behavior. You have to regain control of your thoughts, your images, your dreams and daydreams, and your behavior. Everything you think, say and do need to become intentional and aligned with your purpose, your values, and your goals.”

Jack Canfield, ‘The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are To Where You Want to Be.

If you keep doing what you always do, nothing in your life will change. This includes your thoughts, daydreams, goals, dreams and the actions you take when something goes wrong. 

‘The day you change your responses is the day your life will begin to get better!” said Jack Canfield in ‘The Success Principles.’ “You will never become successful as long as you continue to blame someone or something else for your lack of success. If you are going to be a winner, you have to acknowledge the truth—it is you who took the actions, thought the thoughts, created the feelings and made the choices that got you to where you now are.”

5 Key Ways You Can Take Responsibility and Change Your Outcomes

Canfield suggests five key steps you can take to start changing your outcomes:

1. Stop complaining. 

Changing your responses can be as small as making the decision to stop complaining about the things you’re not happy with. Hate your job? Stop complaining about it every day to your spouse when you get home and take the necessary action to change it. 

Complaining is a low-risk activity that tricks us into thinking we’re doing something without actually taking meaningful action. If you want things to get better, you have to take a risk and change your negative outlook to a positive one. Make the effort to stop complaining, ditch complainers and start taking charge.

2. Turn your complaints into requests.

If you’re unhappy with the way your boss manages your team at work, why do you go home and complain to your spouse? Because it’s risky to walk up to your boss and tell them you think they’re doing a terrible job. Instead of complaining to whoever will listen, turn your complaints into requests and direct them to the right person. 

Looking for more clarity on deadlines? Need more support for big projects? Take the action needed to effect change and make those requests to your boss. Talk directly to the person you need action from rather than just waiting for change to come along.

3. Don’t just allow life to happen to you. 

It’s too easy to fall into the trap of passively letting life happen to you. Canfield posits that to be powerful, you need to believe that you either create or allow everything that happens to you. Many times we allow things to happen to us through inaction and unwillingness to follow through or take the necessary steps to make something happen. 

For example, let’s say your check engine light has been on for weeks but you’ve been too busy to take your car into the shop. Well, now you’re broken down on the side of the road and the repairs will cost much more. Would you blame the car for breaking down or yourself for not taking it into the shop when the light came on?

You are not a victim of circumstance if you stand by passively and let things happen. Be an active participant in your life.

4. Pay attention to “yellow alerts.”

Canfield suggests that rarely do things “just happen” to us. We often receive “yellow alerts” before something happens. These are warnings that something might go wrong which can be external (your mechanic warned you that your car needed to be fixed soon) or internal (a gut feeling or fear that wouldn’t go away). 

Yellow alerts give you time to prepare for an event and adjust your response. Many of us ignore yellow alerts because they cost money, don’t fit our schedules or just make us uncomfortable. However, ignorance is not bliss. Don’t avoid the warnings that yellow alerts give you and you might find it much easier to handle events and prepare your responses.  

5. Life becomes easier when you face it. 

Successful people face life head-on and allow events to make them uncomfortable without it deterring them from reaching their desired outcomes. It’s like a muscle you have to use over and over again. If you respond quickly to yellow alerts and events, your outcomes (and outlook) will improve. You’ll notice your internal talk and thought process will change from “Nothing ever works out for me,” to “I am in control and make things happen.”

No matter what, negative things will happen to you in life. But you can control how you handle them and how your responses will affect your outcomes. You can be a passive passenger in your own life or you can take control and assume responsibility for everything that happens to you. Once you do this, you’ll find that not only will your mindset, attitude and beliefs shift, but success will follow as you act in ways that produce your desired results. It’s your life, own it! 

“It is time to stop looking outside yourself for the answers to why you haven’t created the life and results you want, for it is you who creates the quality of the life you lead and the results you produce. To achieve major success in life—to achieve those things that are most important to you—you must assume 100% responsibility for your life. Nothing less will do.”

Jack Canfield, ‘The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are To Where You Want to Be.

Additional Resources to Help You Change Your Outcomes

If you want to learn more about how to take control of your responses and change your outcomes, we recommend these resources:

‘Positive+ Mindset Series: Change Your Outcomes’ Worksheet

Download our free ‘Change Your Outcomes’ resource to reference whenever you need a reminder to own your responses in order to change your outcomes.

change your outcomes
success principles jack canfield

The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield

Canfield’s success principles will teach you how to overcome daily challenges, take responsibility for your life and results, how to achieve your dreams and motivate yourself to do better. This book will also show you how to overcome fear and self-defeating habits so you can start changing your behavior and reaching your goals. 

Stay tuned for more weekly blog posts in our C21® Positive+ Mindset series!