How To Take Back Your Life And Escape The Drama Of Everyday Living

It is within your reach, so don’t settle for second best because that is what you’re likely to get if you pursue something less than what you are capable of.

An Action Plan For Your Life

“You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding.” — Cheryl Strayed

Sometimes, it may feel we’re a deer in the headlights waiting to escape the drama and wondering why we don’t get out of the way.

Have you followed a path in life that you had little intention of choosing? You might look back and wonder if it was the right decision? It does not mean your choices are wrong.

Consider it akin to trying on clothes before stepping out for the evening. You might know what you will wear, yet when it comes time to get dressed, you’re influenced by the weather or your mood. All of a sudden, the outfit is not to your liking.

What I’m proposing is: life doesn’t know what it will become until you step into it. You cannot make mistakes other than experience the fruits of your thoughts and act accordingly.

“It turns out that one reason we wrongly predict what will make us happy in the future is that we overlook our capacity to tolerate, and even adapt to, discomfort,” state authors Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener in The Upside of Your Dark Side.

We can be dragged along by our choices or be drawn by inspiration. These pull factors will either lead us towards a powerful future or keep us stagnant, or even cause us to slip backwards. It is because few people have an action plan for their lives. It is difficult to plan for the future let alone knowing what to eat for dinner tomorrow night. Life often has other plans, with unexpected detours. However, without a plan we are likely to be controlled by external forces.

Photo by Rob Bye on Unsplash

Stand Up To External Distractions

“When life knocks you down, try to land on your back. Because if you can look up, you can get up. Let your reason get you back up.” — Les Brown

Reflect on the previous week where you intended to complete a goal or project and were derailed by unimportant matters? Few people stick to their plan without allowing trivial matters to get in the way. We are continually being shaped by outside forces not of our choosing. Therefore, we must stay vigilant towards our long-term commitments if we want to succeed in areas of our life.

“Stuff happens.” There are things we may or may not have control over, but the one thing we do have absolute control over is how we respond or react. This is the power of conscious and present-minded choice. This action alone helps shape our destiny, according to author Dennis Merritt Jones in Your Redefining Moments: Becoming Who You Were Born to Be.

If we want to take ownership of our life, we should prioritise what matters. Often, this means saying no to people or situations that contradict our goals. To illustrate this point, as an author it is important I carve out time daily to write and hone my craft. This often means working undisturbed during the morning into lunchtime when my thoughts are conducive to being creative.

However, I am often distracted by phone calls, emails or requests from people. I resist the temptation to yield to these external forces because my priority is writing.

Stephen Pressfield, author of The War of Art offers this insight: “Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential… Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, and prevent us from doing our work.”

Photo by Ahmed Syed on Unsplash

Prioritise Your Time

“When life knocks you down, try to land on your back because if you can look up, you can get up.” — Eric Thomas

Sometimes you must be selfish with your time. Otherwise you will diverted by unimportant matters and regret you didn’t manage your time better. Selfishness in this context means prioritising what is of value to you.

Similarly, it is important to break out of routines and habits every now and again. Whilst habits are effective most of the time, you’ll need to organise unplanned activities that bring you joy and happiness. This may include participating in an unintentional activity at the last minute. The key is to dictate your terms and not allow others to control your time.

“…giving up our need to control events and force outcomes makes us available to the full power of flow. It can move through us and help us accomplish things even greater than we had planned,” states author Charlene Belitz and Meg Lundstrom in The Power of Flow: Practical Ways to Transform Your Life with Meaningful Coincidence.

I’ve spoken of the pain pleasure principle previously whereby people are motivated to seek pleasure or escape pain. The problem with the latter is that these types of people seldom find fulfilment because they run away from what they don’t want, instead of leaning towards what they desire.

Therefore, we must commit to pursuing whatever brings us closer to pleasure through our choices and actions. This means avoiding commitments and obligations because we will regret it when life is no longer enjoyable. Leadership experts talk of establishing boundaries. I recommend we connect with our core principles instead since this will lead us to make choices in alignment with them.

“A man in a black suit checking the time on an elegant watch” by rawpixel on Unsplash

Start The Day As You Want It To Unfold

“There is no royal road to a successful life, as there is no royal road to learning. It has got to be hard knocks, morning, noon, and night, and fixity of purpose.” — Charles M. Schwab

Also of importance is how we start the day. We must give attention to important matters early in the day without succumbing to external noise. I perform a set of rituals first thing in the morning, including reading inspirational texts from books, exercising or stretching, followed by meditation.

These rituals range anywhere from five to twenty minutes and enhance my outlook for the rest of the day. The key is to establish a positive mindset when your feet hit the ground after waking up.

I enjoy the advice by author Bernard Roth in The Achievement Habit who writes: “By choosing the meaning we give to the people and things in our environment, ultimately we control our own experiences, no matter what work we are doing.”

If we want a fulfilling life, we must do away with interference and create life on our terms. The start of the day is the most conducive time for priming our outlook for how the rest of the day will follow.

Some say it is unrealistic to be positive all the time because unpleasant situations will arise. You might experience bad moods because of them. This may be true for five to ten percent of the time. However, barring the death of a loved one or a major illness, you can create a positive attitude instead of reacting to external conditions.

I assure you it is within your power.

Be vigilant that you don’t relinquish your power to others because they will take advantage given the opportunity. Not because they are callous, but if we are not respectful of our own time, others will recognise this and use it to their benefit. We should prioritise what matters or other people will make the choice for us.

I’ve often repeated: we coach others how to treat us.

“But, sadly, many people never tap into the vast amount of power they have to design the aspects of their lives that they can control. They drift along, leaving things to chance, and then wonder why life never seems to turn out well. And when things inevitably do go wrong, they drop their heads in defeat, accepting their misfortune, telling themselves there’s nothing to be done about it,” avows author Kyra Bobinet MD MPH in Well Designed Life: 10 Lessons in Brain Science & Design Thinking for a Mindful, Healthy, & Purposeful Life.

It is possible to take your life back and unsubscribe from the drama of everyday living. It must come from a commitment to honour what is important and letting go of distractions to live passionately. It is within your reach, so don’t settle for second best because that is what you’re likely to get if you pursue something less than what you are capable of.


Originally published at Medium

More Stories
What I Learned From Talking With 44 Managers About Delivering Bad News