As we grow up, we begin to develop our ambitions, and we set new goals for our life. While we are kids and teenagers, we only compromise between what our parents want us to do and what we want to do. Sometimes these plans align with each other, and sometimes they don’t. The point is that, during our development, we pursue goals set for us by our authority figures, and once we achieve them, or when we finish high school, all that is left is the pursuit of our own individual goals, and all we have is our internal motivation.
Achieving personal goals feels great. However, failing to achieve them can deal a massive blow to our egos. After all, this failure is personal, and it often makes us question our own convictions. Of course, every life is filled with failures: some are not too severe, and some are valuable lessons, but failures make us feel weak, powerless, and demotivated.
When things don’t go as we planned, we start to experience this lack of control, and that is truly depressing. It affects how we behave; it prevents us from being happy, and we feel stressed out as a result of all the self-doubt we are experiencing. Luckily, these problems are not beyond solution, and you can conquer this weakness one step at a time.
1. Choose to go to bed one hour earlier
Getting more sleep boosts your immunity, slows the aging process and decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It has also been shown to help with weight loss. Beyond the health benefits, sleep is critical to how we function’physically, mentally and emotionally. Ideally you should aim for seven to eight hours per night and six hours minimum. You can start with just one extra hour per night. You will feel more relaxed, focused and in control.
2. Choose just five minutes of stillness
Our minds work overtime. We are overstimulated with technology, constant access and hectic schedules. We are always thinking, worrying or planning. Most of us are under the impression that we need large amounts of time to be able to relax and recharge and we underestimate the power of just a few minutes of stillness and silence every day. Just five minutes a day has been shown to improve health, mood and overall well-being.
3. Choose to be grateful for your life
Gratitude is an important quality to cultivate in your daily life. When we appreciate what we already have, it allows more goodness to flow to us; we also focus less on what is going wrong, what we haven’t yet done or what we don’t yet have. It connects us to the present moment and allows us to see our lives from a more positive perspective.
4. Choose to be healthy over being perfect
Following strict diets or an ‘all or nothing’ approach can set you up for feelings of failure and lack of control. Each meal or snack is an opportunity to make a different and healthier choice. Rather than trying to control your lifestyle and diet for the next several weeks or months, just focus on the next eating opportunity. Always remember that each time you eat, you can make a different choice.
5. Choose to forgive yourself when you slip up
Whether it’s eating something you regret, not going to the gym, forgetting to do something or not doing it as well as you had hoped, forgiveness is key to feeling in control. Forgiveness allows you to move past whatever went wrong and choose to try again. When you fail to forgive yourself you end up focusing on the problem, and as a result feel stuck and powerless to change. You can’t change the past, but you can choose to move forward.
6. Choose to get right back on track
Closely linked to forgiveness is the choice to get right back on track. Once you have decided to forgive yourself, don’t allow too much time to pass before you get right back to working on your goals. By doing so you maintain momentum and take immediate control of the experience. If you wait, you are choosing to allow other things to get in the way. The more time passes, the harder it becomes and the more it may seem that life is taking over again.
7. Choose to ask for help
One of the fastest ways to achieve what you want, whether it’s weight loss, career or personal goals, is to realize you can’t and shouldn’t do it alone. By delegating some of your responsibilities, duties and errands, you create the time that you need to work on your goals. Asking for help is hard, but once you do you may be surprised by the amount of support that is available. If you have been struggling to do it on your own, ask yourself if you are willing to make a different choice and ask for help.
8. Choose to say no
The ability to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in a given situation is often more a matter of perception than reality. Most of the time we are afraid to say no because of our own expectations, beliefs or fears about what others will think of us. We must make time for ourselves, our priorities and our goals. Otherwise, in our fear of letting others down we can often let ourselves down. Only when you are at your best, can you give your best to others.
As you begin to see your life as a series of small choices, you begin to see the power you have over your experience. It’s important to remember that while you cannot control what happens to you, you always have control over your response. In this context you reclaim control of your life and fully embrace your personal power.
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