Whether it’s ourselves, family, friends, or a child, there’s nothing more frustrating than watching someone we care about compromise their potential because of a lack of self-control.
Whether it’s a matter of not enough time, not feeling like it, or being too tired, we all run into situations where we try and fit too much in at once, or make habitual excuses for why we can’t do it.
Fortunately, this can be resolved. We just need to start organizing the environment around us, and learning skills for self-management.
Developing self-management skills is essential to becoming a peak performer in life. Everyone has high aspirations that they would love to accomplish some day, but without self-evaluation and self-control it becomes nearly impossible to follow through on goals.
By understanding the areas of congruence in our life, we can start to specify and understand where improvement is desired, and then develop a plan to make the change. Below are some important areas for self-management, followed by steps to begin the process.
Five Essential Domains for Self-Management
Beginning to control our thinking and be mindful is one the most crucial areas to develop self-management skills. Start paying attention to your inner dialogue, and begin to cultivate awareness about what you tell yourself. Our thoughts are like a boat at sea, and we need to set an anchor to keep from drifting aimlessly into the mental abyss. Whenever you recognize your thought drifting away to an unhealthy topic, anchor it down and pull it back in.
On a similar note, managing emotions involves learning to recognize our feelings and working through them. This means not letting our emotions take control of our behavior and actions, but instead learning to accept our emotions for what they are and begin dealing with them. We can start to think before we act and recognize how we impact others. We cannot move forward and reach toward better things until we start to manage our emotions.
Time-management involves learning to prioritize the many tasks and roles we are responsible for. We may play the role of: parent, sibling, employee, entrepreneur, student, and athlete all throughout the same day. This can begin to get overwhelming without using time wisely and having some organization. Some simple ways to improve time-management are by using a checklist or calendar, and beginning to recognize our personal time-wasters, such as incessantly checking email, or watching too much television.
We all have high energy times of the day, and learning to utilize our full capacity at these times is crucial. If you have a large project to finish, and you’re a morning person, work on this project first thing in the morning while you’re feeling motivated and energized.
It is also important to get rest and relaxation to revitalize our energy level. We can’t push ourselves too much without refueling for the journey. Managing energy also relates to other areas of self-management such as thinking and emotions. Keeping a positive attitude will help with maintaining a high level of energy through the most difficult situations.
Once self-management is becoming more natural we must start to balance our relationships in the mix of other activities. Relationships are the flagship of the many roles we play in our life. Recognizing we are interdependent and beginning to manage relationships gives us a chance to help others and be helped in the process. Relationships can provide benefits in all the above areas when we have a stable and nourishing relationship.
Three steps to help manage life:
- Step 1: Establish a specific overall goal.
What behavioral or emotional domain do you intend to work on? What area do you feel needs the most attention?
Pick a specific skill to work on and develop your intervention. How will you learn the skill? Who will help you? When will you dedicate time? What barriers could you encounter and prepare for ahead of time?
- Step 2: Pick a measurable objective to work towards.
Select a specific sub goal that provides the feedback to show you’re on the right track. To make real change in our habits, the more specific a goal is the better. Ask yourself, when will it happen? How will you feel? What will you see? What will you hear?
- Step 3: Set-up environmental reinforcement.
This means begin to tailor your environment to work with your goals. This will serve as the follow-up to your intervention by keeping the means accessible. We want to be in situations and surround ourselves with people that can support our goals. The environment alone can have a big impact on our behavior. In order to really change a habit, it can be important to change where we “play” and who we “play” with.