Do you ever feel like you're not really in control and need to get your life together? Perhaps it seems to you that other people get a life they really want, while yours is directionless and chaotic.
You might notice this in one area of your life (such as relationships or finance), or it might impact absolutely everything you do.
Regardless, being out of control in this way stops you from maximizing your potential, blocks vital self-knowledge, and stops you from fully engaging with your experiences.
But what can you do about it? How can you get your life together again – or even gain it for the first time?
We'll help you get your life together, and why it matters so much.
Then, we'll give you a clear and effective guide to follow. In seven steps, you'll learn how to empower yourself to be in charge for good.
First, it's helpful to understand why it's so important to get your life together and be in control. This will help to motivate you to take the seven steps we outline below.
The main benefit is that you can tune into your true purpose and follow that purpose.
If our days are chaotic and we simply feel pulled along by them, we lose the sense of what matters to us and there's no coherence to our life story or our sense of self.
We easily become drained, and yet at the same time, we have a sense of not having achieved anything significant.
In contrast, when we're in control we take a critical look at what we're doing, and we pull our resources together to support the pursuit of one or two major goals.
This not only brings us more joy and satisfaction – it also allows us to contribute to the world around us more effectively.
Two further, more specific benefits or reasons to get your life together taking control of your own life are being one with yourself and fully inhabiting the present. Let's look at how they can improve and transform your life.
Being one with yourself essentially means knowing and accepting yourself. It makes sense that this is hard to do when you're out of control of your life.
Self-knowledge is blocked by the fact that you're just scrambling to stay afloat and survive. You don't have time or energy to process and reflect when this is how your life looks.
Meanwhile, self-acceptance is difficult to achieve because being out of control typically breeds a negative self-image.
You will likely see yourself as weak, as under-achieving, or as not good enough – and while none of this is true, it certainly feels like it when you're out of control of your life.
In contrast, you can more readily understand and love yourself if you're in charge of what's happening to you and how you're spending your time. You can feel proud and excited, living in concert with who you really are.
It's easier to be in the moment when you're in control of your life. You know what's going, you're directing your own narrative, and your thinking is clear.
And when you're able to live in the moment, you get all the benefits of mindfulness – the very same benefits that you get from meditation, in order words.
What this means is that your day-to-day way of living helps you to develop parts of your brain that support perspective-taking, emotional regulation, and healthy responses to stress.
In addition, life is just more enjoyable when you're able to engage with what you're experiencing moment to moment. You're more likely to feel grateful for the good and beautiful things you encounter.
You'll live fully, with a mentally and emotionally rich existence.
So, now that you're hopefully convinced that life in control is a life that is deeply satisfying, it's time to explore how you can develop this sort of experience for yourself.
The following seven steps will gradually help you attain and cultivate your ability to get your life together and stop blocking yourself from success.
As we go through each step, we'll offer some examples of the steps in practice, and we'll acknowledge some of the most common setbacks you might experience when you first start trying to get your life together.
Get into the habit of questioning yourself, not just in one area but across your whole life. Start out by assessing the way you spend your time.
You've already identified that you and feeling like your life are out of control and like you keep getting in your own way. Try to write down more about this.
When do you most often get into your own way, and how? For example, do you block yourself from progressing at work by leaving important things to the last minute? Or do you resolve to pursue a fitness routine then find excuses to deviate from it?
Next, question the decisions you make. At the end of the day, look back over the choices you made and try to spot ones where you lost control, ceded control to others, or blocked yourself in some way.
Making this kind of self-reflection part of your day helps you stay accountable for your own actions.
Being reactive means that you live your life responding to things that happen around you.
In essence, you're defined by the actions of others, not by your own choices, passions, and preferences.
In contrast, being proactive means setting your own agenda as often as possible.
It takes time to switch from being reactive to being proactive.
You can practice whenever you feel yourself under pressure to meet someone else's needs.
For example, suppose someone asks you to take on a larger part of a project and tries to emotionally blackmail you into it.
A reactive person would likely respond to this by panicking and taking on the project, trying to rearrange their life around it.
In contrast, if you're being proactive you might politely but clearly, explain that you're at maximum capacity and can't take on that extra part of the project. In time, this kind of assertive proactivity gets easier.
When we're feeling out of control and accidentally holding ourselves back from our full potential, we tend to spin in circles.
Instead of pursuing tasks in a linear way, we may ping from one to the other without really getting anything done.
One of the best strategies you can employ to take control in this area is to carefully sort all of your current tasks into an order of importance.
Start by doing this roughly – you can revise as you go, and don't worry if some tasks with each other.
Sometimes, you might still feel overwhelmed by your task list even when it's ordered by priority.
If that's the case, try to break each task into smaller tasks that immediately seem much less intimidating.
For example, the item “Design a website” can be split into “update my CV”, “write a biography”, “find photographs I want to use”, and so on.
If you're feeling overwhelmed and disempowered, you can easily start to overthink. Your mind can kickstart anxious thinking chains that leave you feeling even more out of control.
For example, if you're in an uneven power dynamic with someone, you might take something they say and let it spin into all kinds of negative self-talk.
When this happens, one of the best things you can do is to practice mindfulness.
It's best to cultivate your mindfulness skills preemptively, rather than waiting until your stressed.
Ideally, mindfulness should become a daily activity that keeps you feeling centered and in control.
It doesn't really matter which mindfulness or meditation techniques you use.
However, visualizing yourself exhaling stress or negativity and inhaling joy and self-confidence can be especially effective.
You can assign a color to each – perhaps black or red for negativity, and a warm gold for positivity. Just 10-15 of mindfulness a day can transform how you react to stress.
It's impossible to overstate just how much influence a healthy body can have. Our minds and bodies are deeply intertwined, with mental health dips often causing physical discomfort and physical health issues often triggering low mood.
So, if you take action toward a healthy body, you're also taking action toward a healthy mind. In addition, taking control of your health is one crucial way to take control of your life in its own right.
Your mastery over your own body will likely trigger a boost in self-confidence too and may give you a new determination to be in charge.
There are many things you can do to promote a healthy body. Try to incorporate several aerobic exercise sessions each week, as well as strength training sessions.
Make sure you get as many portions of fruit and vegetables per day as you can, and monitor your sleep to ensure you get 7-9 solid hours as often as possible.
If you're feeling like your life is chaotic and out of control, there's a good chance that your finances are part of this picture.
Whether your spending is erratic, you're living hand to mouth or you can't seem to manage to save in the way you'd like to, a stressful financial life makes your whole life less positive.
Keeping track of your finances will make you feel so much more in control – even if you don't take yourself to have a problem in this area.
There are lots of different ways you can keep track of your spending, whether on paper or in a spreadsheet.
It's also wise to set a specific budget for the month, either for all non-essential spending or for non-essential spending in particular areas.
This means your financial situation stays pretty consistent from month to month. This stability can kickstart a process of general empowerment, giving you a taste of feeling in control.
Practicing gratitude has many different positive effects on your life. It boosts your mood, helps you to live mindfulness, and also assists you in keeping track of what truly makes you happy.
The best and easier way to practice gratitude is probably by keeping a gratitude journal. Write down 3 things that inspire gratitude every day (or every week).
In addition, make sure you look for the little things that make life worth living, not just momentous events. You can come back to your journal every time you need a reminder that life is heading in a good direction. It can give you an instant mood boost, and remind you of what's important.
Try to share your gratitude with others, too. Challenge yourself to tell at least 2 people about something you're grateful for each week. For example, you might thank your partner for some contribution to the chores, or a co-worker for their proactive attitude.
Now that you've read through some of the quickest and most effective ways to take control of your life, you might have noticed some common themes.
In particular, notice how authenticity and honesty are key at every stage. For example, developing self-knowledge, being grateful, knowing what to prioritize, and assessing your thinking patterns all require being honest.
The more direct you can be with yourself, and the more willing you are to let down your defenses, the more empowered you will become.
Turning a chaotic life into a proactive, happy, and healthy one is more about your mindset than anything else.
And if you keep developing healthy, honest thinking habits, much of the rest of your life will naturally fall into place.