Zorro Circle – An Effective Method to Make Personal Change

The Zorro Circle is a stepwise way of achieving big goals by taking small steps.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a big project at work or home and are not sure how to achieve it, read on to learn this method for the greatest chance for success.

The Zorro Circle is setting small goals, learning about locus of control, and gradually expanding the circle to achieve more.  This method helps with making big things easier to achieve, while focusing on what you can control.

Do you have a big project at work that is stressing you out and you don’t know how to get started?  Are you feeling overwhelmed by big, seemingly unachievable projects?

What Is the Zorro Circle?

The Zorro Circle is a method of accomplishing tasks and goals by taking smaller steps and challenges one at a time.  It’s a way of mapping out the steps to help you get to a bigger goal or an ambition, so that there are small wins along the way until the final challenge is achieved.  The Zorro Circle helps us learn how to control smaller pieces in the circle around us, increasing our ability and control stepwise in larger and larger circles.

Adopting the Zorro Circle approach can prevent one from getting overwhelmed and build a foundation of productivity and confidence. It allows you to develop a sense of mastery, gain momentum, and eventually extend your capabilities to take on more complex tasks or goals.

Remember that the Zorro Circle is a metaphorical concept, and its effectiveness may vary depending on the individual and the specific circumstances. However, it can be a helpful reminder to start small and gradually expand your efforts to accomplish larger objectives.

Goals - Zorro Circle - Gone Minimal

The Zorro Circle and Training

If you’ve never seen the movie “The Mask of Zorro” (1998), the training for the swordsman was focused on locus of control.  This is also from the book “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor (2010), where the Zorro Circle is Principle 5. 

It can be overwhelming to look at just the end goal or the big picture, so utilizing the Zorro Circle method can help in breaking things down into smaller pieces to make it seem easier to achieve.  The training begins with a smaller circle and not focusing on the things you can’t control.  Here are some examples of how you can apply the Zorro Circle to training and achieving big things:

  • Run a marathon-start with running around the block.
  • Pay off a mortgage-start with saving a dollar per day.
  • Declutter your home-start with a closet.
  • Publish a book-start with a single article.
  • Bench press 250 pounds-start with 50 pounds.
  • Lose 50 pounds-start with half a pound per week.
  • Cook a fancy dinner-start with mac and cheese.

So to accomplish something big, start small and easily achievable.  Then each layer of achievement will build your self esteem and encourage you to keep going and crush those big goals!

On the top of a mountain - Zorro Circle - Gone Minimal
On the top of a mountain

The Zorro Circle and Happiness

In the movie “Zorro”, our hero was in a dark place and lacked motivation.  He was met with the trainer Don Diego, who helped him find his locus of control and train using small circles and challenging him to improve.  We can use the Zorro Circle method to achieve our happiness, by focusing on what we can control rather than what is outside of our control. 

The Zorro Circle helps us learn how to control smaller pieces in the circle around us, increasing our ability and control stepwise in larger and larger circles.

We live such hectic lives there may be incidences over time that stress us out and synergistically lead to us losing control of our emotions, of our happiness.  So how did we lose control in the first place?

  • Small stressors from work, home, school, kids, relationships add up over time.
  • At some point, something adds on to our stress and takes us over our breaking point.
  • We may experience an outburst, a loss of temper, even an exaggerated response to something minor.
  • We lose focus of what we can control, what makes us happy, and become overwhelmed.

It’s so easy to lose sight of what we can and can’t control, to focus on the negatives, and dwell in the things that hurt.  We then focus on the things we’re unable to control, which only makes us sink deeper into negativity, stress, and depression.  So now that we’ve identified that there’s been a loss of control, let’s look at how to get it back, using the Zorro Circle method.

You're the pilot of your own life - Zorro Circle - Gone Minimal
You’re the pilot of your own life

How to Make and Use a Zorro Circle

To make and use a Zorro Circle, start with the small stuff.  Identify the things that add to your stress, what your goals and challenges are, and what you feel is overwhelming you.  Consider not just writing these things down, like in a journal, but talking to someone about them.  This will help you become more self-aware, which can also help you learn your locus of control. 

There are a few things to keep in mind when utilizing the Zorro Circle method.  You start with small goals, and with each goal achieved you expand to a slightly larger circle.  Keep going until the final goal is achieved using smaller challenges.  Here are some tips to assist in using the Zorro Circle method:

  • Set realistic timelines.
  • Focus on what you can control.
  • Place your energy on what you can control.
  • Let go of what you can’t control.
  • Keep in mind your actions all drive you to your goals.
Let go of the things that no longer serve you - Zorro Circle - Gone Minimal
Let go of the things that no longer serve you

You can use the Zorro Circle method in your work life and your home life.  By setting small goals, focusing on what is within your control, you can increase your confidence and relish in the feeling of accomplishment each time.  In turn you will master the Zorro Circle method and master anything you set out to achieve.

Related Insights

What Is in the First Zorro Circle?

The first Zorro Circle contains what you are able to control.  This surrounds the middle/nucleus, or the focus, of what you’re struggling with, what is overwhelming you, or a problem you’re facing.  For example-if you create a circle with a goal of better balance between work and life, the first Zorro Circle could include phone calls, text messages, emails, project load, family, home responsibilities, etc.  It’s the things you have control over and can take steps to modify.

What Is the Zorro Effect?

The Zorro Effect is achieving small goals and thriving on the feeling of accomplishment.  This drives you to do more, be more, and accomplish more-which will propel you to achieve big goals, one small goal at a time. 

Learn the Zorro Circle concept, why it works, and how in this helpful video.

Zorro Circles Real People Would Plan

I asked several friends/family members to list two projects/tasks (at home or work) that they would plan to make a zorro circle first. Here is what they shared and what I learned from the poll:

Project/TaskTally of Family/Friends
Building up back porch/yard3
Cleaning house4
Packing to move2
Advanced degree3
Replacing carpeting with laminate2
Losing weight4
Letting go of stressors2
Finding more happiness and fun1
Learn to play an instrument2

Other Resources:

In closing, utilizing a method like the Zorro Circle can help with achieving any goal you set your mind on.  Whether it’s at work or at home, figuring out your locus of control and setting small, realistic goals can help you move mountains one stone at a time (that’s from Confucius!).  All it takes is a little planning, a little patience, and a little letting go.

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