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  • 533 words (5 mins read)

When to act and How!

Updated: Jul 14, 2020

Who should read?

  1. Those who feel overwhelmed by presence of issues around them

  2. Those who think they don’t know how to prioritize

  3. Those who feel others are not using their advice

Different individuals respond differently to situations. Psychology journals tell that the probability of responding: P(R) to a situation is a function of training and exposure. P(R) is not based on actual contingency. In simple words, an individual may respond to a far more number of situations than he/she should. We like to comment/respond/react to opinions, news, other people’s actions, etc. With limited time and other resources, we need to train our minds to respond to only selected situations. We are not rational, and the exercise is not easy. So, to gauge when to respond, a person needs to make note of two factors: impact and circle of influence.

To understand the impact, you just need to ask if I don’t take action what the repercussion is. Example: You have become morbidly obese (See Point A on action curve in the picture). Here, if you don’t take action, you lose your health, become prone to fatal diseases, and sometimes lose self-esteem, etc. I label this as a situation with high impact/result.

To understand the circle of influence, you need to question how much change can you as a “doer” bring in. Example: You don’t agree with the current government policies. They have an impact on you, may be high or moderate. But the question is how much can you influence the situation. The degree can vary from one individual to the other. If you are in media or opposition party, your circle of influence on government is high. But if you are a citizen with no such background, then your degree of influence is reduced to forums and your right to vote. It may offend some of the readers as many of us believe we have the power to change. But I view this as one of the situations where the amount of time you spend to tackle and respond may not give you the desired result. But in ‘Point A’, you have a substantially high degree of control/influence. You can take decisions for yourself around nutrition and exercise. A response here will provide you with a good result.

Let’s discuss a final contingency, Point C: an unkempt house. You have a high degree of control here. You can engage someone to do the job or do it yourself. But the impact is not the same for everyone for Point C. Someone who stays near a construction site vs. someone who stays in a non-dusty carpeted house, will view the impact of contingency differently. If you clean every day irrespective and then get finicky about the way you arrange your water bottles, then don’t complain about not having time. If the impact is not high, then resist responding. Responding takes time and resources.


  1. Save time and effort: Don’t put effort in things where impact/repercussion is low even if your degree of control is high.

  2. Avoid disappointment: Don’t put effort in things where degree of control is low even if impact/repercussion is high.

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