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5 Ways To Be More Independent

5 Ways To Be More Independent

Have you ever wanted to be less reliant on others and be more independent? Do you have moments when you wish you could be more self-reliant and let those close to you worry less about you?

People who are independent seem to know what they want and how to go for it. They appear more confident and happier. They can take care of themselves and others as well. They appear to have their own thoughts and they are not easily influenced by the opinions of others. They are the go-getters when it comes to their decisions and actions, sometimes like a maverick. They take responsibility for themselves, their thoughts, and their actions.

If you have always thought about standing on your own two feet but are still unsure about how and where to start, here are five ways you can get on your way to being more independent.

Know Who You Are

You can only be who you want to be when you know who you are. Find out who you are at your core.

What makes you happy? What irks you? What are your favourites? What are your non-negotiables? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are the things that you really enjoy doing and would hate to compromise for others? What decisions do you make for yourself? Are they major life decisions, or are they mini-choices you make on daily basis? What do you stand for?

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When you know who you are, you will be able to work on ways to improve yourself and gain the freedom that you want. Only when you understand yourself, will you be able to embark on your own journey to independence. Get clear about what you want to achieve before you start working towards it.

Take Back Your Power

One of the major factors of being independent is to be free from the control of others. Learn to rely less on others to do things for you, to take care of you and to make decisions for you.

How well are you taking care of yourself? What does your family say about you when it comes to being independent? Do you always need them to bail you out? Do you manage your spaces well (cleanliness of your room, car, or desk)? How can you demonstrate to them that you won’t be a cause of worry? Take your power back.

Do you constantly lean to others for support? Do you have trouble speaking your mind because you don’t seem to have a voice of your own? Are you often swayed by the opinions of others? Perhaps there are times when you already have a decision in mind but a word from your best friend or a comment from your sibling made you change your mind, and you wonder why you could never make the decision for yourself. The more you lean to others for approval, the harder it is for you to be independent.

When you lean on others for approval or permission to decide, you are giving your power away to others. Start taking your power back and you will slowly free yourself from the control of others. Learn to accept your own decisions, get comfortable with decision-making, and build up from there. The more you practise decision-making, the more you will learn to be more comfortable with the decisions you make — even though at times you may make mistakes.

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Practice Thinking Independently

Thinking independently means exploring your choices, weighing the options for yourself, seeking opinions from others (for reference, not approval), and making the call for yourself. Perhaps it might end up being a wrong call, but that does not mean that you should stop and give your power back to others.

For instance, you might want to move out of your parents’ house after you have graduated and found a job — which is great, except that your close-knit family objects to that idea. It might help to explore why they do not agree with you moving out. Could it be finances? Could it be that you are the youngest and everyone dotes on you so much that they worry about you living alone? Maybe they’re worried that you will visit less?

What other reasons could there be? How can you inform them of your decisions while considering their doubts? Have you always been good at taking care of yourself? If not, how can you start? That might mean you start making your own bed, making sure you have regular meals, taking care of your health, handling your own rent and bills, and so on.

Part of being independent also means thinking for others. When you think from the perspective of others, you might be able to gain deeper insights and apply them to various aspects of your life. Understanding that there are two sides (or more) to a situation may let you view situations differently and more objectively.

Ask

Being self reliant also means that you know when to seek assistance. When you are lost or confused and you want to give up your power and allow others to decide for you, remember that you have the option to ask for help when you need it.

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Don’t know how to cook? Learn by watching step-by-step cooking videos or printing recipes.

Not sure which course to take for your degree? Find a few people who have done the course you are interested in and ask them for their advice, but use their feedback as reference and not as a decision-making call.

Asking for help does not mean you are weak or surrendering your control further. It means you are strong enough to find out what you need to do to move forward.

Explore

The more you explore, the more avenues you will find available to you.

You can explore by visiting new places, or you can tap into the minds of others through reading well-written books. Learn from others how they handled various situations in life that you have no exposure to.

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Attend events when available and ask questions. Absorb the experiences of others and apply them to your own situation when you can.

There are many other ways to explore — solo traveling where you instantly learn to be more independent, volunteering yourself to be a team leader for a project, making your daily small choices without consulting anyone, embarking on other projects like craft projects or baking without depending on anyone, and so on.

In Conclusion

Sometimes, we get pushed into situations where we have no choice but to grow overnight. Though it can be necessary for our survival and our development as individuals, it can be hard on us to learn things the hard way.

When we proactively learn to be more independent so that we live our lives with control, we are generally empowering ourselves to think and act based on what we think is right for us and those we care for.

We need to learn to be independent in this interdependent world because that is how our individuality arises and how we grow to be more of who we are, not how others want us to be.

Today, be responsible for yourself and start taking steps to live with more independence.

Featured photo credit: PablO via pablo.buffer.com

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Last Updated on September 18, 2019

How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Almost everyone assumes either that taking good notes comes naturally or, that someone else must have already taught about how to take notes. Then, we sit around and complain that our colleagues don’t know how to take notes.

I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a student or a mid-level professional, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure.

Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

The purpose of note-taking is simple: to help you work better and more quickly. This means your notes don’t have to contain everything, they have to contain the most important things.

And if you’re focused on capturing everything, you won’t have the spare mental “cycles” to recognize what’s truly important. Which means that later, when you’re studying for a big test or preparing a term paper, you’ll have to wade through all that extra garbage to uncover the few nuggets of important information?

What to Write Down

Your focus while taking notes should be two-fold. First, what’s new to you? There’s no point in writing down facts you already know. If you already know the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there’s no reason to write that down. Anything you know you know, you can leave out of your notes.

Second, what’s relevant? What information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project? Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading (which means you’ll have to have actually done the reading…). The kinds of information to pay special attention to are:

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Dates of Events

Dates allow you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened, and understand the context of an event.

For instance, knowing Isaac Newton was born in 1643 allows you to situate his work in relation to that of other physicists who came before and after him, as well as in relation to other trends of the 17th century.

Names of People

Being able to associate names with key ideas also helps remember ideas better and, when names come up again, to recognize ties between different ideas whether proposed by the same individuals or by people related in some way.

Theories or Frameworks

Any statement of a theory or frameworks should be recorded — they are the main points most of the time.

Definitions

Like theories, these are the main points and, unless you are positive you already know the definition of a term, should be written down.

Keep in mind that many fields use everyday words in ways that are unfamiliar to us.

Arguments and Debates

Any list of pros and cons, any critique of a key idea, both sides of any debate or your reading should be recorded.

This is the stuff that advancement in every discipline emerges from, and will help you understand both how ideas have changed (and why) but also the process of thought and development of the matter of subject.

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Images

Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, a few words are in order to record the experience.

Obviously it’s overkill to describe every tiny detail, but a short description of a painting or a short statement about what the class, session or meeting did should be enough to remind you and help reconstruct the experience.

Other Stuff

Just about anything a professor writes on a board should probably be written down, unless it’s either self-evident or something you already know. Titles of books, movies, TV series, and other media are usually useful, though they may be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

I usually put this sort of stuff in the margin to look up later (it’s often useful for research papers, for example). Pay attention to other’s comments, too — try to capture at least the gist of comments that add to your understanding.

Your Own Questions

Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor or look something up later, as well as prompt you to think through the gaps in your understanding.

3 Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

You don’t have to be super-fancy in your note-taking to be effective, but there are a few techniques that seem to work best for most people.

1. Outlining

Whether you use Roman numerals or bullet points, outlining is an effective way to capture the hierarchical relationships between ideas and data. For example, in a history class, you might write the name of an important leader, and under it the key events that he or she was involved in. Under each of them, a short description. And so on.

Outlining is a great way to take notes from books, because the author has usually organized the material in a fairly effective way, and you can go from start to end of a chapter and simply reproduce that structure in your notes.

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For lectures, however, outlining has limitations. The relationship between ideas isn’t always hierarchical, and the instructor might jump around a lot. A point later in the lecture might relate better to information earlier in the lecture, leaving you to either flip back and forth to find where the information goes best (and hope there’s still room to write it in), or risk losing the relationship between what the professor just said and what she said before.

2. Mind-Mapping

For lectures, a mind-map might be a more appropriate way of keeping track of the relationships between ideas. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of mind-mapping, but it might just fit the bill.

Here’s the idea:

In the center of a blank sheet of paper, you write the lecture’s main topic. As new sub-topics are introduced (the kind of thing you’d create a new heading for in an outline), you draw a branch outward from the center and write the sub-topic along the branch. Then each point under that heading gets its own, smaller branch off the main one. When another new sub-topic is mentioned, you draw a new main branch from the center. And so on.

The thing is, if a point should go under the first heading but you’re on the fourth heading, you can easily just draw it in on the first branch. Likewise, if a point connects to two different ideas, you can connect it to two different branches.

If you want to neaten things up later, you can re-draw the map or type it up using a program like FreeMind, a free mind-mapping program (some wikis even have plug-ins for FreeMind mind-maps, in case you’re using a wiki to keep track of your notes).

You can learn more about mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

3. The Cornell System

The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes.

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About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet.

You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions.

In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.

The Bottom Line

I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of the variety of techniques and strategies people have come up with to take good notes. Some people use highlighters or colored pens; others a baroque system of post-it notes.

I’ve tried to keep it simple and general, but the bottom line is that your system has to reflect the way you think. The problem is, most haven’t given much thought to the way they think, leaving them scattered and at loose ends — and their notes reflect this.

More About Note-Taking

Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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