This is what is called a "perspective piece", which is a piece through which we gain a greater perspective on life such that we can put first things first and not "sweat the small stuff".  


Stephen Covey in his classic "must read" The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People" is the most famous conveyor of the idea of concentricc rings of life in which there are declining impacts that you can make.   Essentially, you have more power to cause an effect the more central the circle.  

The circles go like this in this order, though I've increased the number of rings:  (I've also "made up", or "estimated" the relative impact and importance of each so you can get the idea of the relative benefit of focusing efforts in each.  Your rating will differ somewhat, but the order of the impact of each will not differ.)

  Imp.           Ring

10,000  Center:    Yourself
   100  2nd ring:  Your family
     50  3rd ring:   Your close friends and many of those you work with
       3  4th ring:   Acquaintances
       1  5th ring:   The world (people) "out there"

Cutting to the heart of the matter, the main point is that spending alot of time marching for a cause in the 5th ring will have an impact that is tiny when compared to the impact of spending that time at the center of the ring or the other rings closer to the center.  The gist is "don't waste your time there!"   Don't bother with getting any approval from the non-affectors of your life.  Of course, your boss is someone to please because of monetary purposes (most likely), so you would put some efforts toward that because of the payoff level for doing so.

The concept applies to the wisdom of putting your energy into what you can control and not being so unwise as to try to control the uncontrollable (or that with lesser impact). (Be absolutely clear on the vital concepts in Control.  Follow the sequence of pieces on what has the greater impact, what to control, and what not to control - the latter of which will save you immense amounts of time and effort that you can, instead, put into things that will actually benefit you!!!  Hopefuly, the saved effort will be put into assuring that you are controlling what has the highest impact and benefit for you.  Do not skip this vital sequence for your life!)  (Write me when you've finished those pieces to let me know what the impact has been of applying this vital sequence:  Contact.)


In managing life, we need to differentiate as to where to spend our time and effort so that we can spend them where they have the biggest impact on our lives.  Failing to do that will have an enormous impact on how much we get out of life.  The difference in payoff in life can be upwards of 100 to 1! 

It is vital that we pay attention to this reality and follow through on it.  We can't afford not to, as we cannot afford to throw away the greatest gifts that life has to offer (as opportunities to be harvested). 

People fail to realize that many things have very little payoff but they believe that they do, to their detriment.  Those beliefs need to be cleared up, as they will result in continually paying the costs of fear and worry and stress, where there is no need to even give them a little bit of concern.  Most are just "so whats" in life, or "little stuff".

From About Fear:  "Our lives are given away for small stuff - might it be worthwhile to figure out what the big stuff is and then..." 

There are actually two parts involved here:

Part I is seeing which fears are made up and based on non-existent dangers (and which do not need to be experienced as unpleasant). (This is dealt with in the Fears section.)
Part II is determining what is important and impactful enough to merit our concern and to prioritize.  (This idea is expanded in How Big Is The Problem And Danger?)


In this illustration, the rings would be:

  Ring       Impact    Description

Center:       100        Health, capabilities
2nd ring:      90        Meaning and stories about life, based on irreality
3rd ring:       90        Doing what enriches our lives the most, self-care
4th ring:       20        Getting from the world enough money to meet our basic wants
5th ring:       10        Relationships (though this is actually optional)
6th ring:         1        Everything else 

The irony is that we spend so much time in the "everything else" outer ring when it has so little payoff and impact! 

And the 2nd ring is so impactful because we make it so, mostly.  We have total say in the matter of the meanings we ascribe to parts of our lives.  There are some useful meanings, that have us valuing certain things, so that we actually create real value in our lives.  (Read The Meaning Of Life and Values.)

The 3rd ring is the other ring over which we have so much control.  In that ring we create our very lives, by putting into our lives what is most valuable and what enriches it the most. 

The top 3 rings are virtually all we need to be concered with, with the rest being of only peripheral, small impact - even inconsequential, if we view things objectively and in proper impact. 

Relationships are often given alot of drama and dependence, but that is mostly based on our failure to straighten out the beliefs that we acquired in childhood, such that we make "approval" of life determining importance - a pure myth!  

The 4th ring is, of course, vital, but it is so easily doable that it is of little impact on our whole world.  Once one has a realistic view of money and how much is needed, this becomes a very minor challenge, one that is easily met and therefore is of about zero concern.   Many people will disagree with that statement.  We "make up" so much about the potential impact upon our survival, the probability of something horrendous occurring, and then create false fears, overestimating the impacts.  When this false, imaginary mental construct is disappeared, there is alot of freedom and relief from creating these pressures and this useless, often harmful, game. 

Read How Much Is Enough to get a perspective, both on how high to set the bar of what is needed and how to make it easily on less money.

My Circle Of Concern - Cleaning It Up And Cleaning It Out - Applying it to myself, what I decided to do.
Picture and brief discussion:  Circle Of Concern And Circle Of Influence (Outside piece, pdf of Covey's concepts.)

Essential core reading

Stephen Covey's books:

The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People (A "Must")

First Thing First (further depth in making impactful choices!)