Self-management is a key skill needed in all facets of life. Many students earn low grades or drop out, not because they are unable to assimilate lessons, but because they get overwhelmed by the workload. Often, employees who promote in a company are not the most intelligent or educated, but the most resolutive, that is, those who are able to cope with a heavy workload and get things done. And, although many of us are not aware of this, lack of personal organization can even ruin our financial situation and our relationships.
What does Self-management include?
Although many people only relate self-management to time management, it is actually a much broader concept that deals with all the following:
- Knowing oneself. What are your values? What is your vision of life? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Only based on this you can find a meaningful life.
- Defining objectives and setting goals at all levels, so your actions always obey important things and you don’t get carried away by the crises of the urgent. It makes no sense to live just a busy life.
- Developing your proactivity. Seeking, with a positive attitude, the way that takes you to the life you want to live. As Steve Jobs said, “don’t waste your time living someone else’s life”.
- Learning to take decisions on all the things that concern you—even if the decision is to do nothing—, so you can always keep control of your life.
- Improving your self-esteem and confidence. Evaluating your own worth, being assertive and learning to say no in certain circumstances.
- Self-developing, growing, improving. Creating the discipline necessary to acquire more knowledge, to improve your relationships with others. Caring for your mind and body.
- Learning to manage stress and conflict in order to achieve emotional stability necessary to function well in all areas of life.
- Managing your time better, not only doing more, but enjoying your time more. Time is limited, but it may be of higher quality.
- Developing and keeping the motivation to get things done and avoid procrastination. As Steve Jobs also said (sorry, but he is on my mind these days), “perseverance is about half of what separates success from failure”.
- Evaluating oneself on a regular basis and making adjustments. Reality changes every day and it is possible that the assumptions you made some time ago are not very accurate today.
- Knowing how to keep focused on what you’re doing.
The ultimate goal of self-management is to enable you to achieve the life you want. Or, put another way, to increase your odds of having a happy life.
3 ways to learn Self-management
Learning self-management—a so important skill to our success—is not a part of our educational system, as incredible it may seem. Nobody teaches us how to manage ourselves efficiently. This is something we acquire intuitively, and that we improve thank to mistakes and failures. A hard road of learning.
Some people recognize the symptoms of poor self-management when they reach a level of stress than they can’t bear. Only then they care about improving their skills. Unfortunately, many others are not able to detect the causes and blame external factors for their problems. They don’t usually recover.
So what can you do to improve your self-management skills?
- Read. There are many succesful books that will help you understand the origin of each problem and show you some good techniques to improve. Two of my favorites are The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen Covey, 1989) and Getting Things Done (David Allen, 2001). There are also many bloggers who regularly publish interesting info and advice on the web. Subscribe to the ones you like and you’ll receive some outstanding insights weekly.
- Attend specialized courses, conferences and events taking place near you. This is a good choice if you don’t have much time to read and want to speed up the process.
- Hire a personal coach. This is expensive, but the best option if you are in a critical situation.
In any case, you must put the acquired skills in place and be consistent. Establishing new habits is not easy, and success depends ultimately on you.
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