Taking control of your life

Do you ever feel like you have absolutely no control over your life?

Between rushing around playing taxi for your kids, meeting demanding deadlines at work, having to attend social obligations, keeping on top of housework and everything on your to-do list it just feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day. It can feel like  your life isn’t your own but controlled by the demands of others.

This is typical of modern living where most people are too busy completing tasks to properly appreciate and enjoy life. The result is that people are more stressed out, more impatient and burn out more frequently. The reason for burn out is that running at full speed all the time means that you don’t have time to replenish your energy. Eventually you are running on empty and you either mentally or physically break.

If this resonates with you then it is time to take back your power. Self-empowerment is about taking back control of your life, learning to be assertive and making good decisions that lead to positive outcomes for you. It isn’t being selfish and neglecting the needs of your family, but rather taking care of yourself so that you can take better care of others. When you take back power over your life you are better able to cope with life’s challenges and demands.

Learning to say “No”

The first step in self-empowerment is learning to say “No” and meaning it. How many times do you say no to something you really don’t want to do and then eventually cave due to the other person being persistent?

For instance the kids wanting to go to the mall and you say no as you are really busy. They continue to nag and eventually you cave just to get them out of your hair. Or a colleague dumps extra work on you and you do it even though you are already up to your eyeballs in work. Perhaps you cancel plans to do something that you really love, like visiting friends or attending a workshop, as your kids, husband/wife, boss needs you to do something for them.

When you always put others ahead of yourself, you are saying “I am not as important as them, my needs don’t matter”. When you do this, you dis-empower yourself.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying No. The kids throwing a tantrum, or your colleague giving you the evil eye is not the end of the world. Remember these reactions are just their way of trying to manipulate you into doing what they want you to do. Don’t give in to it. This is about you setting boundaries and acknowledging the fact that your time is just as precious as anyone else’s.

The key thing to remember is that when you say No, make sure that you are firm in your decision and be polite. If you feel the need to justify it, then do so but make your explanation short and to the point.

Managing your time

Being able to manage your time effectively is important in self-empowerment. How much of your precious time do you waste doing things that have little or no importance to your life and well-being? How much time do you spend doing things for other people?

Get on top of your to-do list and check which tasks are really important and which ones add no value to your life whatsoever. After discounting the irrelevant tasks, go through the important tasks and see if you can delegate any of them. For instance do you have to be the one that drives the kids to soccer practice and ballet on Saturday or can you get your husband to do it, or form a car pool?

You don’t have to be a superhero taking on everything and not getting any help. This is one of the quickest ways to burn out as it means that you don’t ever have time to recharge your batteries. To strengthen you resilience, to help you get control of your life, you need to ask for help from time to time.

Precious me time

Burn out happens when you feel like you have no control of your life. Aside from managing your time better, you also need to make time for yourself. Downtime not only helps your relax and recharge, but it also helps you gain clarity on your life and goals. It gives you the space to focus and sit in the driver’s seat of your life so that you can steer it in the right direction.

To have precious me time it means committing to 30 minutes or an hour a day to work on yourself. A lot of very successful people find that mornings work best for them. What they do is spend this time meditating and clarifying their intent for the day. It is time spent acknowledging all the things that they are grateful for, and it is time spent stilling their minds. This leaves them feeling energised and in control of their lives. The simple act of meditation is one of the greatest tools in self-empowerment.

Everyone is different. If the idea of meditation does not appeal to you then try writing in a journal, doing something creative, or going for a run. Anything that calms your mind and enables you to focus. If you are not a morning person then rather set aside time in the evening, preferably just before you go to bed, and meditate or write in your journal. There are no rules, do what is right for you.

Self-empowerment is the only way you can get on top of your busy life. Doing so will make you feel in control of your life and it will make you feel calmer and happier about your life. Best of all you don’t need to make radical changes, you just need to manage yourself and your time better.

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