The starting point of maturity is the realization that, “No one is coming to the rescue.” Everything you are or ever will be is entirely up to you.
This life is not a rehearsal for anything else. This is the real thing. Time is passing quickly, and all of your decisions and indecisions, your actions and inactions, to this point have added up to create the life you’re living at this very moment. If you want things to be different in the future, you’ll have to make things different in the present. You’ll have to take complete charge of yourself and your life. You have to make things change, because they won’t change by themselves.
Self-management is really personal management, time management, and life management all rolled into one. It’s putting your hands firmly on the steering wheel of your life and then taking yourself in the direction in which you want to go. Remember the old Confucian saying, “If you don’t change the road you’re traveling on, you’ll probably end up where you’re going.” Every successful man or woman made, at one time or another, a firm decision about where he or she wanted to go and then took deliberate steps to get there.
Most people make themselves into a commodity. They will define themselves in terms of their work or what they spend most of their time doing. They will describe themselves as a salesperson, or a manager, or an executive assistant, etc. Since we tend to become what we think about, we describe ourselves as being what we do for a living or as what we do most of the time. This is one of the main reasons why people who have been fired or laid off go through a period of shock and emotional turmoil. It’s as though they’ve been cut off from their identities.
You are a business. You have to view yourself as the president of your own personal services corporation. You have a combination of ingredients that makes you a unique and remarkable person, different from anyone else who has ever lived or will live. You’ve undergone a wide variety of experiences, both positive and negative. You’ve had a remarkable education; you’ve had a formal education, and you’ve learned from the various jobs and activities you’ve engaged in. You have a unique intelligence, much of which isn’t yet developed to the fullest. You have the skills that you’ve acquired through hard work, discipline, and practice. When you put all of your abilities and skills together, you’re probably capable of excelling at hundreds of jobs, doing different things in different organizations, businesses, and industries.
One of the great tragedies of our educational system is that almost everyone is brought up to think of himself or herself as an employee rather than a business owner or an entrepreneur. This attitude or myth that most people have been brought up to accept is a major cause of unhappiness and underachievement in life. The myth of just being a good employee leads people to see themselves as helpless and dependent. From an early age, they look for someone to provide them with work to do and money to live on.
When you accept complete responsibility for your life and take charge of your working destiny, you begin to realize that self-management is the vehicle that will take you from where you are to wherever you want to go. You’re in charge. You determine your own cause of action. You decide where you want to work and what you want to do. Then you, first, prepare yourself, and then, go out to get the job that most satisfies you and allows you to use yourself to your best advantage.
You start the process of self-management by looking deeply into yourself and asking questions, such as, “What do I most enjoy doing? What have I most enjoyed in my work and activities in the past?”
Imagine, for a moment, that you have absolutely no limitations and you cannot fail. What would you choose to do? Write out a description of your ideal job. What would you most like to do from morning till to night? Write out this description exactly as if someone had offered it to you and at the pay you wanted. Most people will find this exercise very difficult at first. But the more you think about what you want and do this exercise, ideas will become clearer to you. And, as a result of your being absolutely clear about what you want to do, you will find yourself moving toward you ideal job, and your ideal job will begin moving toward you.
To manage yourself better, look at your major interests in life. What do you most enjoy talking about, reading, or learning? What sort of books and magazines do you read? What sort of subjects or conversations most attract and fascinate you? You should always pay attention to what you value most and what is most important to you. When you’re able to “lose yourself” in something, that’s a clear indicator that you should be managing yourself to accomplish more of it.
An important key to self-management is strategic thinking. Strategic thinkers are those who take the time to sit down and work out where they are and where they want to go. They determine how to achieve their goals in a step-by-step fashion. They look into the future and think about how they could allocate their resources to move more rapidly toward the accomplishment of their goals.
In personal strategic thinking and planning, you look at your unique talents and abilities and ask yourself, “Where can I best deploy myself in this marketplace to bring myself the greatest rewards?”
Another key part of self-management is disciplining yourself to work on only those things that can make the greatest difference in your life. If you’re not extremely well-managed personally, you will find yourself spreading your efforts across a wide variety of things and getting nothing really important done. Self-management means putting off doing all the things of a low-priority so that you can work on just the one or two things that make all the difference.
Self-management means getting things done through yourself. It means standing back and looking at all your unique talents, abilities, and assets, and getting the highest possible return on everything you do. You need to organize, manage, and motivate yourself as if you were your own employee.
Productivity improvement is an essential part of self-management. This means you need to continually manage yourself to produce more, faster, cheaper, and better than you have before. Your most valuable asset is your ability to earn money. To increase your productivity, you must think every day about the things that you can do to increase your value, thereby increasing your ability to earn more money by producing more and better goods and services for yourself and for your company. Remember your company is you.
Perhaps the most important part of self-management is personal profitability. This means that you spend less than your earn, and that you make a profit from your work. It means that you live within your means and save and invest part of everything you earn. You are 100 percent responsible for achieving your financial independence. And this is possible only by saving and investing part of your income every single paycheck.
Innovation is another important part of self-management. You are born with enormous reserves of creativity that enable you to improve every part of your life. Constantly look for faster, better, and easier ways to achieve your tasks and goals. Read, research and ask questions. Talk to others who are ahead of you on the road of life, and ask for their advice. Look into yourself, and listen to your intuition.
You can achieve any goal, you can overcome any difficulty, and solve any problem on the path to your goal, as long as the goal is clear. You have the creative resources within you to be, have, or do anything that you could possibly want. The only limitations are the ones you place on yourself and your mind.
Due to all the advances in technology and the Internet, you can achieve far more in far less time than every before. People who practice self-management are the ones who rise to the top. Self-management techniques can make you rich, happy, healthy, and fulfilled beyond your wildest imagination. It’s up to you to learn them and apply them in every area of your life.
Copyright©2005 by Joe Love and JLM & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.