A 5-Step Plan For Taking Control Of Your Life: A Doctor Of Psychology Explains

Photo: Kate Daigneault

Leadership skills are highly valued in our fast-paced, hustling culture. We look up to, emulate, and follow the advice of well-respected people who work hard, make tough decisions, and lead by example.

But it’s not just organizations that need solid leaders. The most powerful place from which to lead is actually your own life.

When’s the last time you felt fully in control—on top of your to-do's, aligned with your goals, fulfilled in every area of life that’s most important to you?

This question isn’t meant to make you feel bad; it’s not easy (and not necessarily realistic) for you to be firing on all cylinders at all times. But it is important to remember that YOU are the one in control. This is your life, and you are in charge of making sure that it runs smoothly according to your own standards.

So what do you think? Are you the leader of your own life?

If you think you may still have a bit of work to do—and we all do at one point or another—I think these tips might help:

1. Set goals.

All great leaders set goals. They identify the milestones they want to reach, then create specific, actionable goals that will help them get there. Whether you’re leading a major corporation or leading your (even more majorly important!) life, you need to look into the future and decide where you want to go—then figure out how you’ll get there. Set goals for yourself, based on where you want to be in six months, a year, and five years from now. And while it’s important to set goals that are fairly realistic, I also encourage you to dream big! Don’t limit yourself by what you’ve accomplished in the past. Stretch yourself a little bit further, allowing room for your inevitable growth. I think you’ll be amazed at the goals you can reach with a little clarity and the right steps to take!

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2. Be courageous.

All great leaders have courage. That doesn’t mean they aren’t afraid of things, however. No, being courageous means that they have learned to overcome their fear and take big risks anyway. Courage is a valuable skill to develop in your own life, too. Become more aware of the things that scare you—do you want to quit your job and start your own business? Do you want to ask the cute girl at the coffee shop on a date? Do you want to end a relationship that has lived long past its expiration date? Whatever it is that may be scaring you—if it needs to be done, I encourage you to shore up the courage and do it! Once again, this is your life; no one will do the hard stuff for you. Lead with courage.

3. Learn from your mistakes.

All great leaders learn from their mistakes—because, let’s be honest, nobody is perfect. Even the most well-respected leaders in the world have fumbled, misspoken, and made errors in judgment. What separates the great leaders from every other imperfect human is how they learned from and addressed their mistakes. And that’s another important point to remember—in your hopefully long, expansive life, you will likely mess up. Over and over and over again. But it’s not the mess that defines you—it’s how you clean it up. Don’t berate yourself for making a mistake; take a step back, learn the lesson, and fix the mistake.

4. Maintain a student mindset.

All great leaders keep learning. They know that they don’t know it all, that they can’t know it all. If you want to become the leader of your own life, you should know that too. Continue to read books, attend workshops, and take classes. Surround yourself with people who teach you, challenge you, and make you grow. Seek out information on new topics and continue asking questions. There is so much information to be learned in this world—so much more than we’re even consciously aware of in this moment! Stay curious and learn as much as you teach.

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5. Recognize and honor who you are.

All great leaders have self-respect. They know themselves intimately—through regular practices of self-awareness and self-reflection—and they honor their innate goodness, despite life’s challenges. In order to be a truly great leader in your own life, you have to remember who you are (and who we all are) at your core: You are love. That may sound cheesy to you, but it’s true. And the sooner you recognize and honor that, the sooner you will find full trust in your own skills, capabilities, decisions—the sooner you will become the true leader of your own life.

Want more insights on how to level up your life? Check out your June horoscope, then find out if you're meeting your emotional needs (and how you can do it better).

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