Life Lessons: Take back control of your life

Life Lessons: Take back control of your life

How often do you find yourself feeling that your life is out of your control? Do you have the impression that your life got stuck out like a game of chess? It’s up to you make the next move. Let’s figure out how to take back control of your life!

Self-discipline begins with the mastery of your thoughts. If you don’t control what you think, you can’t control what you do.

When I think about controlling my life, the first thing which comes to my mind is to control time I spend or waste on different activities. Whenever I get a bit of free time, I struggle with my thoughts on how to use it at best. Shall I write, shall I read, shall I clean my place, shall I go exercise, shall I learn something new, shall I watch something, shall I meet someone, shall I sleep more or shall I do nothing? Having limited free time and so many opportunities, I’m barely able to make a choice. And how do I know if I make the right choice? Sometimes, the result is that I don’t use this time at all.

From time to time, I realize: “You’re lucky to have got freedom of choosing what do you want to do with your free time and you should be grateful for that. Don’t take it for granted. Stop losing it“. But is it really freedom? Don’t we have too many options to choose from? Doesn’t it complicate simple things? I cannot imagine my grandparents having to choose what will they do with their free time. Simply because they didn’t have any. There was always something to do. But they didn’t seem unhappy because of not having the choice.

Today, I have a choice. Does it make me happier? I wouldn’t say so. It happens that the number of options overwhelms me as well as uncertainty if the option I choose is the most appropriate one. Do you use my time well or do I waste it? Someone rightly said that when you open one door you close hundreds of others forever. How do I know if I open the right door? What if I missed the best one? The clock is ticking and there’s no way back.

It seems more difficult to have a choice than to not have it. When you don’t have any choice, you take what’s given to you and you learn to appreciate it. Having too many alternatives may eventually drive you crazy.

We exist in a buzz of worry that we’re not doing what we’re meant to do, and the anxiety we feel, in turn, makes it difficult to get things done, creating a spiral of inaction.

Anthony Rao and Paul Napper

I’m constantly experiencing a feeling that whatever I do, I’m losing something. When I’m at work I feel like I lose precious time I could spend with my family. When I’m with my family I feel like meanwhile other people work hard and achieve a lot. When I sleep I feel like wasting my time I could use for my personal development. When I stay late at night catching up with writing or other activities I feel like I sacrifice my health.

How to find the best wavelength and take back control over your life? I recommend three metods from a book Power of Agency.

1. Avoid overstimulation

What I’ve started to practice is disconnect from any kind of stimulation which is not related to the current activity. If I choose to write or read, or go for a walk I put my phone off. I give myself space to enjoy what I’m doing now and to find its deeper value. Being within reach mobile devices distract my attention not allowing me to fully focus on. They undermine the relevance of the chosen option trying to overflow me with a multitude of other options I could be doing at the same time. The result is that I start to do various things simultaneously and eventually I feel like I’ve done nothing.

The habit of holding incessantly my mobile with me ingrains a toxic feeling that I miss something else and other people use better their time. Putting my phone away for a while doesn’t make me lose the connectivity with the whole world. It gives me freedom to spend quality time doing what seems to be the most beneficial right now. I’m connected with selected people, with inner myself or with nature. Less means more.

The ability to concentrate on one thing without being interrupted may be a genuine blessing. You feel like you take the most of it. That your time is not wasted. Very soon you start seeing effects of your undivided attention.

2. Avoid getting affected by people’s negative emotions

The essential is to detach from, so-called, groupthink, especially if certain thought patterns or behaviors are against your values. If there’s someone particularly negative in your environment, it’s healthier to limit the number of interactions. Set boundaries with difficult people. Don’t let them affect your motivation and well-being.

Encircle yourself with positive people who encourage you to do better. People who help you discover your talents. Who motivate you to exceed your limits. When I watch Oscars or any other award ceremony, the winners are used to thank people without whose support they would have never achieved such a success. These people aren’t the ones who complain, doubt or discourage your ability to reach your full potential. These people are the ones who advocate for you until you get to your destination point.

It’s not always like you have got a bunch of friends cheering for you. You can engage into casual talks with your neighbours, grocers or local volunteers. Wherever you find a positive spirit, go for it. It’ll significantly improve your state of mind.

3. Avoid staying on the couch

I read about it everywhere: move. I hear about it everywhere: move. I watch about it everywhere: move. It seems like moving is the most frequently prescribed medicine for almost all disorders. No surprise, it helps to make the mind up.

Lying on the couch and thinking about the sense of your life will not move the mountains. Get up, put on your sport shoes and warm you up. Once the blood starts to circulate in your veins, you’ll feel a boost of dopamine. It doesn’t have to be something extreme. A simple stretching or a walk relief my mind from a burden of unnecessary thoughts.

What are your best practices to keep control of your life? I’ll gladly hear from you!

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2 thoughts on “Life Lessons: Take back control of your life”

  • Choices… I hate not having any (even thought I believe there always is a choice), and yet I find myself hating it when I have too many options, too. Like you, I do battle with myself wondering which activity I should perform when I have some free time. It’s between being productive (all sorts of chores), doing something I like that’s also productive (write/work out), relaxing my brain (vegging out), or restoring my body (taking a nap). That’s the simplified version of it. Most of the time I want to do what I want to do, but then I feel guilty for not being productive as much. Whenever I notice that I spend too much time on making a decision, I just make one and roll with it. I make sure to come up with plenty of arguments to support the decision once it’s made. Hopefully, the decision made reflects what I need most at that time (body, mind, soul).

    You say if I open one door I close a 100 of others. True, but I don’t look at it that way. What’s done is done. Now, let’s move forward. I guess that’s what it comes down to for me – to always keep moving. I trust that I will end up where I need to go one way or another. So one decision might not be the best, but that doesn’t mean that my whole life is ruined. ‘

    ad.1)I totally agree. I consider myself good at multitasking. I’ve been told before that I just need to focus on one thing at a time, but I thought such mindset would only slow me down. If I can handle multiple things at a time, I should do it, right? Not quite. Sometimes, I feel like multitasking does come in handy. However, I do put more effort into being present and focusing what is here and now instead of thinking about a million different things, which diffuses my focus and enjoyment.

    ad. 3) SO true.

    A very timely post for me. I’ve been feeling like I’m losing some control as of late. I struggle between holding control too tightly and letting it go completely. To me, there isn’t much wiggle room.

    • That’s the clue. Whatever you choose, you feel guilty you didn’t choose another option. What’s more, we’re incited to be productive all the time. It’s not enough, though. One activity might seem more productive than another one and we feel somehow obliged to justify the decision made. Isn’t tiresome? Can we call it freedom?

      I agree with you that closing 100 of the other doors don’t have to be a painful experience. We always choose what seems the most right at this moment. If you cannot choose more doors, there’s no point crying about it.

      When it comes down to multitasking, I struggle a lot to focus on one thing as I used to perform several tasks simultaneously. However, I know it’s more effective when you give your full attention to one activity. The results are more tangible.

      I completely understand you when you say about an inner conflict between holding control too tightly and letting it go completely. None of the options seems right and both of them are quite risky. One would tell you about looking for a balance, but it’s such a general notion. We can’t control everything, but no control means we let chaos enter our life. I believe the most effective approach is to give yourself frames within which you work, that is a minimum of required control and the rest of the time you go with the flow of things. Being flexible helps to keep eyes open for new opportunities and new approaches which might turn out to be something we’ve been looking for a long time.

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