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Taking Charge of Your Life is the second pillar in helping you become your true self. Say you Understand Yourself (pillar one) then you have to actually do something with it, right!? This means you need to take charge of your life. And just like the other pillars (Understand Yourself and Pass on the Torch), this pillar is also composed of three themes: Taking Responsibility, Improving Yourself, and Taking Purposeful Action.
This is a key mindset, the mindset of taking responsibility. A mindset of taking ownership of your circumstances, even if they are not caused by you, sets you up for a chance to improve things. If you see yourself as a victim, you’ll fail to improve or take action by default. Why? Because if you think you’re a victim you’ll feel you don’t have control. So what are some questions you can ask yourself to help you take responsibility?
What are you avoiding?
There is likely something in your life which you are avoiding. Sometimes you can avoid something for a long time, but things that really need a confrontation will come back to bite you if you keep avoiding them. Think unresolved trauma or an action you took that doesn’t sit well with you. You might try to see in what ways you can make it easier to confront that thing, so you won’t have an excuse to avoid it anymore.
What do you focus on?
You’ve probably noticed that when you focus on something, you’ll attract more of it. Whether it was a certain way of behaving in your teens or the things you share as a professional in your work right now, you get back what you put out. This holds for both positive and negative things, so do and share more of what you want to see in your life. If you’re trustworthy, others will be more trustful of you, for instance.
What healthy constraints can you give yourself?
When you give yourself healthy constraints you can more easily let your creativity work for you. When literally all options are open, you’ll be paralyzed with too much choice. You won’t be able to stop overthinking when you leave all options open. But if you constrain yourself in some aspects, your creativity will solely surface highly relevant options. In turn, you’ll get to what you want much faster and in a more clear way. This takes responsibility though because you need to choose to constrain yourself, which is very difficult for most people to do.
Now that you know what you want and have taken the responsibility to focus on it, you need the skills to be able to follow that path. A good way to figure out if you’re ready is to challenge yourself, so you can see where you need to improve. Don’t let improving your skills take priority over actually taking action, but don’t neglect your weaknesses and strengths either. Improving yourself is what will compound the results of your actions over time.
Realize that your health is your wealth
What do we have on this earth? Time. In that time we do what we want and need to do. So the best way to increase your wealth - whether you define wealth as money, relationships, or something else doesn’t really matter - is to increase your “alive” time here. To feel and be more alive, you need to be healthy. And being healthy in turn also extends your life.
Create a keystone habit and manage your time well
Your days are composed of the actions you take. The majority of those actions are habitual. When you change those habits, your days will change, and thus your life will change. So one of the best ways to improve yourself and your life is to consciously form or remove habits. A good way to start is with a keystone habit. A keystone habit is a habit that serves as the basis for all other habits. Usually, this is a practice that you do early in the day, so all the other habits can lean on it. A practice like meditation, journaling, taking a cold shower, etc.
Improving yourself can be very difficult, especially when we are stuck in our ways. A method of getting unstuck is to create a personal challenge, or “self-rule”. With that personal challenge, you say you will do something and then just do it for the time of the challenge. An example: write 500 words a day for 100 days. It always has to be formulated with constraints, so that you won’t have excuses available to get out of the challenge halfway. What this personal challenge does, when you designed it well, is it gives you a volume of work in the right direction, thereby improving the skill or habit that you set out to improve in your challenge.
Take Purposeful Action
You took ownership of your “why” and you have the skills to take action, now is the time to go out and be the change you want to see. the best way of course is to embody what you want to see in the world. There are a few tips that I think are helpful for you to keep walking the path.
Show, don’t tell
It’s human nature to rarely like being told what to do. We rather learn from example. So try to focus your time on living life in a way that you want others to live it instead of telling them how to live (yes I’m aware of the irony in me telling you to do so here, haha! I do try to practice what I preach as much as possible). I always learned most from other people when I watched how they lived, vs what they said. So it is too with parenting our kids, the lives on which we probably have the most impact.
Play the long game
If you take action over time your actions can compound into massive change. But this only happens if you play the long game, i.e., don’t change the game all the time. So when you realize life is a game, and this game is something we would like to keep playing as long as possible, you can make choices that span decades vs years. One of the most important gameplay strategies then is to make sure you play to keep playing instead of thinking you need to win on some arbitrary facet of it. Also, don’t forget that you’re actually playing, i.e., enjoy it!
Direction over speed
When you embody what you want to see in the world and you think in decades about your life vs years, the most important thing is to take the right actions based on the right decisions. Rarely are the right decisions made in haste. So choose Direction, where you want to go and how you want to get there, over Speed. Remember the story of the hare and the tortoise? Fast is slow, slow is fast.
There are many other points within these themes that I want to (and will!) cover. But I feel these are the Big™ ones!