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8 Ways to Gain Better Control of Your Life

8 Ways to Gain Better Control of Your Life

As we grow up, we begin to develop our ambitions, and we set new goals for ourselves. While we are kids and teenagers, we only compromise between what our parents want us to do and what we want to do. Sometimes these plans align with each other, and sometimes they don’t. The point is that, during our development, we pursue goals set for us by our authority figures, and once we achieve them, or when we finish high school, all that is left is the pursuit of our own individual goals, and all we have is our internal motivation.

Achieving personal goals feels great. However, failing to achieve them can deal a massive blow to our egos. After all, this failure is personal, and it often makes us question our own convictions. Of course, every life is filled with failures: some are not too severe, and some are valuable lessons, but failures make us feel weak, powerless, and demotivated.

When things don’t go as we planned, we start to experience this lack of control, and that is truly depressing. It affects how we behave; it prevents us from being happy, and we feel stressed out as a result of all the self-doubt we are experiencing. Luckily, these problems are not beyond solution, and you can conquer this weakness one step at a time.

1. Learn to accept yourself and give yourself some more credit.

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    You need to know that every trait you possess can be viewed from both a negative and a positive perspective. If you consider yourself to be determined, and if you do not give up easily, other people might perceive this trait as stubbornness. If you are ambitious, others might call you greedy, whereas if you are humble, they might say that you lack ambition.

    Also, if you are cautious, some might perceive that trait as minor paranoia or cowardice. Basically, it all depends on the context and situation in which you displayed your personal traits. It also depends on your environment, i.e. whether it is willing to reward those traits or to suppress them.

    It’s a truth as old as humanity itself: we have our own vision of ourselves, while others have a different perception, and the truth is somewhere in between. In other words, do not take criticism too seriously, and do not be self-absorbed all the time; just learn to accept yourself, and only work on the flaws that you truly wish to eliminate.

    Abandon the notion that you can become someone that everybody will admire, and focus on being someone you would admire. If you try to impress everyone, you’ll end up forsaking yourself and, as mentioned, these personal failures are far more disappointing.

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    2. Learn how to handle your finances.

    Another reason why we might feel stressed out and powerless is when we have trouble handling our finances. When you start to live your own life, there are unexpected expenses that pop up each month, and since these expenses can easily lead to debt, you need to think ahead and save money for those occasions. Whether we want to admit it or not, money is also a form of power, and without it, we feel less secure and less confident.

    If you are stressed out because of your finances, there are two solutions. You can see what you can do to earn more money; you can ask for a higher paycheck at work, and see what the requirements are; or, you can simply learn how to redistribute your spending budget. Sit down and calculate how much money you need to pay the bills, and then see how much money you have left and create your daily budget based on that number.

    See how much you can spare on a daily basis, and come up with a tactic to do so. For example, there are tons of incentive programs that can help you save money, and you can get coupons or vouchers to trim down the price.

    You can also get better prices if you shop online, or simply look for used items that don’t need to be brand new in order to properly function. Additionally, you can also sell your items online, or organize yard sales to get rid of what you are no longer using and to earn some extra money along the way.

    Once you accumulate enough extra money this way, put it in a savings account so that it can grow. Again, do not put all of your money into a savings account because you’ll need some extra cash for unexpected house repairs if something starts to malfunction.

    3. Know where you stand.

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      We are still on the subject of money here, and it goes without saying that your worth is not based on how much you earn. Also it’s wrong to assume that everyone will measure you based on how much you earn, but still, money is a form of reward system and something that serves as tangible proof of how much your skill and knowledge is valued. So, when you feel the lack of control, it’s good to focus on something that can be measured and that you can track in order to restore confidence.

      This is not a very common practice, but I feel it can be very useful. You can now calculate your net worth, and know exactly where you stand on an average scale. Of course, this does not mean that you are more or less successful than someone else, since we know that people can be born into privilege and thereby already have an advantage on this scale.

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      However, when you know where you stand, you can have a starting point for yourself, and work on improving; it’s like advancing in a video game and gaining higher levels. Basically, you start to work on improving and increasing your net worth, and having a clear overview of your success rate can reward you with a sense of achievement.

      If you feel bad for focusing so much on earning money, you can always donate and help those less fortunate. I am just saying that it is a good way to have tangible proof of the progress in a positive direction. So, you do not do this in order to compete with others, nor to prove to others how much you are worth; you simply do it to convince yourself that you have control over your progress.

      It also doesn’t have to be connected to your net worth; if you love agriculture, you can look to improve the size of your fields or the quality of your plants. It just needs to be something that is valued globally.

      4. Add more organization to your life.

      When you feel a lack of control over your life, then you can combat it with a grain of OCD. Start to organize everything you can. It was already mentioned how you can organize your finances and how to earn money by selling things you don’t use. However, you can take this a step further and reorganize your home and daily schedule.

      The main reasons why this is useful is because you’ll feel a lot better when you are in a well-organized environment, and unexpected problems and obligations are less likely to sneak up on you when you monitor things more adequately.

      You can clear the bins and label your cabinets and jars; you can have a mail-organizing cabinet and a tool that can also organize your emails; you can use a work planner to write down everything important, or download an app that can do the same.

      Basically, you keep track of your items and obligations more diligently, as that can provide you with the necessary serenity that can keep the stress at bay, and give you more control over your responsibilities. Besides, it feels really good when you are keeping track of your tasks, just crossing them off your list.

      Of course, if trying to be too organized is just another source of stress, then simply tone it down. Don’t write down everything or don’t label everything; basically add the amount of control you feel comfortable with, and see how it works. If you find something unnecessary, then there’s no need to give it much attention.

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      One thing is certain though: you will feel so much better if your entire living space is neatly organized and if everything feels in its place. Plus, you’ll be motivated to maintain that order, since you worked hard on building it.

      5. Exercise.

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        Exercise is useful for numerous reasons. First, it’s a good way to cope with stress. Second, your body will produce more energy as you advance, and the things that used to be stressful and tiring won’t seem so difficult. Third, it’s good for your health and mood. Fourth, it will help you build up your confidence, since you’ll look better and, again, progress and achievements are good positive boosts for our psyche.

        The only problem with this is that you might not have enough time to seriously devote yourself to exercise. However, you are not trying to become a professional weight lifter, athlete or fighter; all you need is a moderate dose of physical workout in order to look good, feel good, and be satisfied with yourself.

        There are quality workout regimes online that you can try out, and you can find a nutritionist to prescribe a good diet to boost the efficiency of your training. The best thing about this is that there are programs that do not require weights; you can exercise at home and still get satisfying results.

        If you are unwilling to start exercising because it will leave you with a lot of pain for the next couple of days, then you can gradually add more physical activities into your schedule before you start working out. You can start with walking to work or riding a bike, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, drinking more water, etc. You can also start with a 20-minute yoga session in the morning and before sleep, which should prepare you for your workout in the future.

        6. Follow a healthier diet.

        In addition to exercise, you’ll need to have a healthier diet. As mentioned, you can find a nutritionist to give you a diet, and you can start preparing your own food more frequently. It’s a sort of a self-improvement technique, where you start to learn to cook different meals. Additionally, when you prepare your own food, you will save more money, which is also a good thing. So, it’s not directly connected to gaining better control of your life like the previous tips, but it goes well with your lifestyle in general.

        7. Work on self-improvement.

        Self-improvement can imply a lot of things. It can mean a change in your governing philosophy, or acquiring new skills, or simply changing your lifestyle for the better. So far, everything mentioned here was a form of self-improvement, and all that remains is that you work on your competence. You can try and do better at work, or you can start to learn other skills that can help you with house maintenance.

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        You don’t need to spend money on this, since you can find online tutorials and start learning this way. As you improve, you will start to fix things on your own; you will start to feel that you have greater control of your life, and you will be proud of yourself. You can train yourself to become a good craftsman, which is fulfilling, and it can help you earn some extra cash on the side.

        8. Learn to rely less on other people.

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          Lastly, the less you rely on others to solve your problems, the more powerful you will feel. It’s all right to ask for help, and you don’t have to do everything on your own, but if you aren’t able to solve problems without relying on others, then you will be frustrated.

          This is why self-improvement is important, because when you are self-sufficient, you feel more liberated and less pressured. Furthermore, with more skills at your disposal, you can even help others, and people will start to appreciate you more. Besides, when you are helpful, you will feel better.

          So, know that you are capable of many things, know that you do not need to rely on others, but also, do not refuse or shy away from asking for help. The whole point of this is to make your life easier and to gain more control over it — not to embrace unnecessary struggles.

          Featured photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/users/Unsplash-242387/ via pixabay.com

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          Djordje Todorovic

          Blogger, Gamer Extraordinaire

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          Last Updated on August 20, 2019

          How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

          How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

          Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

          In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

          5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

          Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

          1. Be Clear About the Objectives

          Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

          It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

          Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

          2. Keep Them Realistic

          It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

          It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

          3. Account for Inflation

          Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

          Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

          For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

          4. Short Term vs Long Term

          Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

          As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

          More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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          5. To Each to His Own

          The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

          It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

          By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

          11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

          Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

          • Ensuring healthy savings
          • Making smart investments

          You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

          Ensuring Healthy Savings

          Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

          This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

          1. Track Expenses

          The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

          Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

          2. Pay Yourself First

          Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

          Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

          The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

          Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

          3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

          Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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          Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

          At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

          Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

          You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

          4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

          Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

          If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

          Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

          All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

          5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

          In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

          Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

          Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

          If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

          If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

          So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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          6. Talk About It

          Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

          Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

          7. Maintain a Journal

          For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

          So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

          Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

          When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

          At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

          Making Smart Investments

          Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

          8. Consult a Financial Advisor

          Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

          Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

          9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

          Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

          Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

          Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

          It is here where that classification will help.

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          So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

          10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

          Einstein once remarked about compounding,

          Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

          So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

          Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

          11. Measure, Measure, Measure

          All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

          If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

          If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

          Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

          The Bottom Line

          This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

          As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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          Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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