There's a quote floating around the internet, it's unattributed sadly, but that doesn't make it any less impactful. "There are people less qualified than you, doing the things that you want to do, simply because they decide to believe in themselves. Period." Maybe you've seen it. Perhaps the notion is a tad hackneyed, but when I landed on it—I'm sure on some influencer's Instagram—I did take a moment to think about the theory. There's a power that comes with believing in yourself and a real danger in doubting your abilities.
It's easy to let life get away from you at times. To feel overwhelmed by expectations or buried under all the stuff that comes with day-to-day responsibilities. That's when you feel like you're not in control of your life. Our time is filled with the things we have to do, while the stuff we'd like to do seems further and further away. That's when it's time make a few changes.
I'll give you another popular quote, this time from pastor and educator Charles Swindoll, "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." What might you have more control over than you realize? Just because most people complain about their life doesn't mean you have to get caught up in these traps as well. If you shift your perspective, you can beat back that uncertainty and systematically eliminate the external obstacles holding you back. Here's how.
Let's face it: there is a lot in life that isn't under your control. But one thing you can always control is your effort. In any situation, your enthusiasm and motivation is up to you. Do you show up to a meeting prepared to make your points heard? Or do you roll in late without a pen? Do you go for a personal best at the gym? Or do you put in a few half-hearted reps and throw in the towel early? You're in control. Even when you decide that you don't have the energy to give 110% that day, make the call and take the pressure off yourself. Decide when you want to push and when you want to relax, that way, you don't feel like you're coming up short.
In any self-improvement plan, you're going to hear something about sleep. But think of it this way: you inadvertently stay up later than you meant to and now you worry you won't get enough sleep. Now you can't work out like you planned to before work. Or you hit the snooze button so many times that you don't have time to shave or have breakfast before leaving the house. The best medical authorities repeatedly recommend that if you plan for a solid seven to eight hours of sleep and go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, you'll be better off. And that's because you'll develop a routine that will provide order and a sense of control to your daily life.
Just Say No
Nothing saps you quite like feeling you're buried under commitments. You feel rushed or you feel like you can't do anything well because there's simply too much to do. When this happens, life coach and founder of The Action Solution, Sid Savara, suggests cutting back on commitments to take back your attention and thus, your time. Even when it seems like there's nothing you can cut, take a hard look. Make the difficult decision to let some things go. Rather than trying to do everything, instead focus on doing just a few things well. "When I am driven by outside commitments, I no longer have control of my own time," says Savara. "When I am instead driven by my internal drive and goals, that's when I control my time—and my life."
Look, any vice worth its guilt has its usefulness. Be it alcohol, drugs, caffeine or porn. But the problem with vices is that they tend to mess with your mind and body and make you crave them more and more. Try cutting back your consumption—by half or by a third—and most likely, you'll reap the same benefits when you need them. You might even enjoy them a little more now. Better yet, you'll stop feeling so dependent and you'll realize a greater sense of control over your time and needs.
Take a Risk and Ask
Let's be real, it takes courage to ask for something. But once you do, you're guaranteed clarity because you'll know the answer. It's the not knowing that robs us of control and the opportunity for growth. "When we don't ask for what we want, we make way too many assumptions on what is possible for our lives and massively limit what we can be, do and have," says life coach Susie Moore, author of What If It Does Work Out? "It also limits our opportunities to give back to others, as there is no such thing as a one-way street when it comes to the law of giving and receiving."