Do you know what your Locus of Control is? Locus of control is a concept that was developed in the mid-1950s by Julian B. Rotter and referred to the extent a person believes they have internal control over events affecting them or external influences have the control. Even before I was recently introduced to the concept, I have generally been following the internal philosophy for some time.

I try not to let things outside my control upset me, or affect me, why waste energy on things you cannot control. I do think the locus of control line of thinking has merit in many areas of one’s life. It can have many benefits and drawbacks depending on the type of control you subscribe too. Let’s look at the different perspectives of internal and external locus of control has across some different situations.


Let’s say you achieve a promotion at work:

Internal Locus of Control – You might attribute the promotion to your hard work, extra hours, dedication to details, etc.

External Locus of Control – You might attribute to time, luck, other not performing well.

Let’s say you did not get a promotion at work:

Internal  – You might blame your lack of hard work, not putting in extra hours, or following directions.

External  – You might blame your boss, co-workers, or the company itself.

Personal Finance

Let’s say you had a consistent positive return on your retirement investments year after year.

Internal  – You might consider this success to the research of your investments, dedication to checking your investments regularly, or not taking too much risk.

External  – You might consider this success all about the state of the economic, the timing of when you invested, or just pure fate.

Now let’s say you had a negative return on your retirement investments year after year.

Internal  – You might point the finger at the lack of attention you have given your investments, your overall knowledge of the market, or the fact that you did not dedicate enough time to research what you were investing in.

External  – You might blame the CEOs of companies, the president, the guy at work you gave you a stock tip.


You have a healthy and happy family life.

Internal  – You might attribute it to the time you dedicate to your spouse or children, the open communication style you use, or the focus and priority you apply to your family above anything else.

External  – You might attribute it to family history, the community in which you live, or your income.

Your family life is unhealthy and unhappy.

Internal  – You might attribute it to lack of communication with spouse or children, the time you spend away from the family, or

External  – You might attribute it to lack of income, the neighborhood you live in, or education.

As you can see those who identify with the internal locus of control are typically more responsible for their own actions no matter what the outcome. They could tend to be hard on themselves even to the point of over-analyzing one’s actions. On the other hand, someone who identifies with an external locus of control focuses on everything around them as part of their success or failures, typically not taking any responsibility for any of their action.

When I was let go from a job of over twenty years and began a job search, I believed I have an internal locus of control over the process. I have control over how well I prepare for an interview, how much research I do for a prospective company, how well I dress, what time I show up, etc. Sure external factors might and could affect my travel time to an interview, but if I plan ahead and leave early, I’m in control of it.

Often during the Holidays, when we are celebrating with family and friends, we think about the things we are grateful or thankful for. Consider how the locus of control fits into it all. We should celebrate success, learn from failures, and be mindful of the great things in our life each and every day.

Are you someone who makes things happen or someone who things happen to?