Take Charge of Your Life
Feeling like you are not in charge of your own life is an unsettling feeling. Worse yet, many individuals are not even aware that they are acting according to the scripts laid out for them by society, family and other outside pressures, without any true self direction.
Did you choose to be where you are now?
Being able to take direction is a positive quality, but there is a potential downside. Many individuals who are great at figuring out the formulas that will make other people happy, such as the teacher or the boss, may follow those formulas blindly without taking the time to decide what it is that they really want.
Take a second to look at your career choices by asking yourself the following questions:
- Why did you choose the field you’re in?
- Are you doing something that you honestly love to do?
- Does your career enable you to have the lifestyle that you want?
- Is there anything missing?
- Could you be delegating certain tasks to others so you can focus on what you are truly great at?
- What is one thing that you would like to stop doing?
- What is one thing that you would like to start doing?
The goal here is not to craft some ideal vision that may not be attainable. Most of us have to do some things that we do not want to do each day. The point is to determine how much of your day-to-day work you consciously chose to put on your plate.
You may find that you got to where you are simply by taking the next logical step, or that you are doing things a certain way just because that is how they have always been done. Take some time to reconsider your options if you need to.
Take decisive action
If the previous exercise identified any areas of your work life that need some adjusting, make the decision to change them. Depending on how much you need to change, this can feel a bit daunting. Here is how to make it more manageable.
“Pursue one great decisive aim with force and determination.” -Carl von Clausewitz
- Establish a 5-year goal.
This is the big picture. What do you want things to look like five years from now? Think about the title, the salary, the responsibilities, the team you may (or may not) have, and the perks.
- Pick a 1-year goal.
After you have a 5-year goal, decide what you can reasonably accomplish in the next year to move yourself towards it. You may choose to focus on networking, education, or a side hustle.
- Break your 1-year goal down into smaller tasks.
No matter what your 1-year goal is, you will need to break it down into actionable steps in order to achieve it. For instance, if you need an additional certification, that can be broken down into the steps of researching programs, applying to programs, scheduling out study time, etc.
- Don’t wait until it happens.
Once you’ve identified your goals, you may fall into the trap of thinking that you will not feel successful until you’ve reached them. Instead, celebrate every little item you tick of your to-do list. Embody as many of the qualities of the leader you feel you will be in five-years today in your current role.
Taking charge of your life
If you want to be the best leader you can be, there are certain things you can do to take charge of your life to get you there.
- Do what you say you are going to do.
The best leaders got to where they are because they take action and they can be counted on. Do what you say you are going to do, always. This will help you to trust yourself, and for others around you to see that you always get the job done.
- Spend your time with like-minded people.
Once you have identified some big goals, spend time with people who are also striving for change. Changing habits is easier when you have people around you who will keep you accountable.
- Be creative.
You won’t always be able to do exactly what you want to do, and there may not always be a clear path to getting where you want to be. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box or to question current systems.
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Taking charge of your life starts with taking an honest assessment of where you are at the present moment, identifying what needs to change, and creating goals that will move the needle. While this article primarily focussed on creating change in the area of career, the same steps can be taken to address any area of your life. Stepping up and taking charge is the only way to lead yourself to the career and life of your dreams.