When life becomes messy, how can you take charge of it? The task seems daunting — there are usually multiple factors that all intersect with each other, creating dissonance and a sense of fragmentation. But, as big as the task of taking charge of your life can seem, three basic practices lay the foundation for doing so.
Control Comes from Action
Taking charge of your life comes through action. To be pro-active means to be active — making a move. That move may be getting out of a situation that’s unhealthy, meeting a new friend, going to a new class, reading a new book, whatever it takes — anything you can do that is different. It’s the emotions that trap us in a rut, in unhealthy habits. Breaking habits requires, first and foremost, taking action. Making a change.
If you find yourself in a state of despair where it’s so dark that you think that there’s no way out, you may need to ask a friend or mentor to “kick you in the pants.” Ask for help and advice — doing so is a form of action in itself. A fresh set of eyes and a fresh approach can help — but, of course, only if you take action.
Examine Your Life
Where is your mind? What do you focus your thoughts on? The key, internally, to taking charge of your life is to examine it. Where are you headed? What are your objectives? What is your personal mission statement? Consider practical things that force you to take a look at yourself and not just go through the motions of your life.
Thoreau writes, “Most people live a life of quiet desperation.” Are we ready to just resign ourselves to just being an observer in life? To do damage control? To do the least and play it safe?
If you are having trouble examining your life, look carefully at why: Often it’s the result of fear, which paralyzes us and doesn’t allow us to look at ourselves. Are you afraid to be honest with yourself?
And Celebrate Life
Life is full of variables and ups and downs, tension and resolution. The key is to be able to look at life and embrace it — to celebrate it. Celebrating life means that you wake up in the morning and say, “I’m really excited about this life. I’m not looking over my shoulder all the time wondering who’s going to hit me next, or where the next curve ball will come from.”
Part of taking charge of your life is simply to accept imperfection and to learn to take life as it comes. How do you respond to the natural ebb and flow of life? Are you flexible and adaptable, or do small changes and transitions throw you off? Sometimes control means letting go — not to the extent that you are irresponsible, but by being able to ride the waves of life like a skilled surfer on the ocean.
Exercise: Think of an area of your life that you’d like to take charge of, and plan how you could use the three principle above to clean it up. Write about it in your MyMLC journal.
Go deeper into this subject: Your Seven Emotions | How to Free Yourself from Your Problems | How to Stop Repeating Your Mistakes | What to Do When Things Fall Apart | Joy Amidst Turmoil | Taking Responsibility for the World