Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

Wasting Away? Here’s 5 Steps To Gain Control Over Life Again

“Anything less than a conscious commitment to the important is an unconscious commitment to the unimportant.” — Stephen R. Covey

In my early twenties, I drifted too far off into an unfortunate direction. I was headed for depression, and I didn’t even realize.

This happened, partly, because I failed to take control.

I failed to be conscious — to be aware — of where I was going. As a result, I drifted unknowingly into darker currents.

I simply wasted away.

You see, if you don’t take control over your life, life takes control over you. Everything — even things you cannot possibly imagine — shapes your direction if you fail to set it yourself.

It’s like being on a ship with no destination.

If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable. — Seneca

If you don’t take control, other things will.

Your unconscious urges, the environment you find yourself in, and the people around you are strong influencers.

Being aware of this, and utilizing some of the ideas presented in this article, can help you stay in control.

Although it’s not possible to gain complete control, taking control of what you can, is pretty close to a superpower.

Are you ready?

Gaining Control

In this article, you’ll explore how to gain control through:

  • Clarity.
  • Goals.
  • Alignment.
  • Routines.
  • Selection.

Each of the points will be discussed in greater detail below.

1. Clarity

“It’s a lack of clarity that creates chaos and frustration.”— Steve Maraboli

Gaining control, cannot happen unless you gain clarity.

Clarity works much like an antidote to chaos.

If you’re not clear on what you want — if you’re drifting — you’re not going to get anywhere. Heading in all directions, leaves you spinning into nowhere.

With clarity, however, you’re able to get to where you want.

Then, the big question is, what do you want?

  • Who do you want to be?
  • What are the consequences of making a choice?
  • What outcome do you want?

Taking some time to reflect on these questions can really help you find a direction.

Because, as you and I both know, there’s probably something inside that’s itching. Something good. A direction you want to follow.

It’s worth noting that clarity is a path — a direction in life — not an explicit goal.

It’s about finding a lifestyle. An ideal to aim for. And these kind of things can’t be measured in terms of goals.

In addition, gaining clarity can indeed take some time. But if you deliberately set out to find it, you’ll discover that clarity will increase over time. The picture will gradually become clearer.

Just head in a direction, and adjust as you go by.

Only then will you discover what you are meant to.

2. Goals

When you’ve found clarity— no matter how specific — you need to set some goals that will accompany your direction.

With clarity being more about finding a direction, goals are more about finding exact targets to aim for.

Ideally, they should be compatible with your direction.

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” — Tony Robbins

Goal setting is a relatively simple process.

Here’s the deal:

1. Set a conscious, specific goal. This makes you focused, and enables you to stay motivated. Specificity also involves making the goal time-bound. That is, you need a deadline.

2. Make it challenging, and set it as high as possible. This will foster your motivation, increase you persistence, and make you exert more effort.

3. Make sure you have the ability to attain it. This will make you more committed.

4. Make sure it’s important enough to make you stay committed. If you’re not committed, you will never attain your goal.

5. Make it measurable, and with opportunities to receive feedback. With feedback, you’re able to adjust your strategies for attaining the goal. Feedback can be received through support from others, setting sub goals, or measuring your progress against the deadline you set.

6. Make sure you have, or can get, the resources needed. Without resources, you cannot move forward. You need to be resourceful. Resources include such things as books, mentors, and even internet access.

If you do this right, I can almost guarantee that you will reach your goals.

3. Alignment

“Suit the action to the word, the word to the action.” — William Shakespeare

When your inner world (attitudes, values, beliefs, etc.) and outer world (behaviors) are aligned, you are bound to feel in control.

When you align your clarity and your goals, with actual behavior, you can achieve anything you want.

“The path to success is to take massive, determined action.” — Tony Robbins

If you’re not aligned, you can start to lose control.

Here’s how to align yourself:

1) Make behavioral intentions. They are influenced by:

  • The attitude you have towards the behavior. ‘What are the positive consequences of it?’
  • Subjective norms. ‘What do others think about the behavior? Do you care?’
  • Perceived control. ‘Can you perform the behavior?’

2) Implement your intentions.

  • Specify when and how you will do it.

3) Be consistent in your behaviors.

4. Routines

Carving out a portion of the day, and assigning it to yourself and the things you see as important, is an act of self-love.

To have quality routines — especially in the morning and the evening — works like foundations to your life.

Through your routines, you establish control.

They’re yours.

How you choose to set up them up, is entirely up to you.

Morning and evening routines, works like a reliable sandwich. If nothing else works that day, at least you’ll be in control of your routines. If the meat goes bad, at least you have some tasty bread to chew on (ok, that’s a shitty metaphor, but you get my point).

“Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it.” — Richard Whately

Although there are several things you could include in a routine, there seems to be some elements that are more common than others.

Through personal experience, and by looking to others, I’ve found these elements to be important:

  • Meditation.
  • Journaling.
  • Praying.
  • Listening to uplifting material.
  • Reading.
  • Though dumping.
  • Expressing gratitude.
  • Reviewing goals.
  • Visualizing.
  • Working out.

The key is to find something that works for you, and fits with your personal needs.

Feel free to experiment.

5. Selection

“We, as people, are shaped by what is outside of us. We like to believe we are the masters of our fate. But our situation and environment are far more powerful.” — Benjamin P. Hardy

The environment and the situations you encounter, influences a lot of your behavior — and most of it happens outside your conscious awareness.

By default, there’s a lot of randomness influencing you.

Luckily, before you enter a given situation, you have a choice of whether to interact with that situation or not.

If you’re able to identify the right environments — the ones in which you can grow — you take back control of your life.

You eliminate the random drifting.

Psychologists Larsen, Buss, and Wismeijer, proposes that;

“Most life outcomes can be found in the interaction between personal characteristics and life situations: exceptional things happen when chance situations meet the prepared person.”

Being prepared means that you decide who you want to be. This is achieved through the previous steps that we’ve covered.

However, through identifying the right situations beforehand, you can eliminate the chance aspect of it.

Just be conscious of your decisions, of where and with whom you spend time with.

Take control.

Don’t let random forces shape your life.

Decide how you want it to be, and then live that way.

Tying It All Together

To gain control (to the extent that you can), you can try to follow these steps.

  • Get clear on what you want;
  • Set real goals;
  • Align your inner and outer world;
  • Establish quality routines;
  • And select the right situations and environments.

You can do this.

It’s your life.

Take control.

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