Published on December 21, 2020

How To Take Back Your Life When Things Get Out of Control

How To Take Back Your Life When Things Get Out of Control

Do you ever feel like life is a roller coaster of highs and lows, stresses, and excitements? Sometimes, we can get caught up in a string of events where we feel overwhelmed and things are out of control. We may sometimes feel like we have to take our life back before we lose control of everything.

It can seem like life is a shirt that is falling apart, and if you pull one thread it might unravel everything. Instead of losing sight of your goals and feeling defeated, these 7 behavior changes and small steps will allow you to take back your life.

1. Take Power Back in Your Job

Feeling out of control can often relate to your career and may stem from seeing other people excelling and being promoted when you are not. If this is the case, you might ask yourself, “Am I putting in enough effort? Am I working hard and smart?” Once you assess your answers to these questions, consider developing skills that give you more leverage in your job.

Some examples are improving your writing, joining a networking group to refine your public speaking, or becoming more organized with time management capabilities. Possessing expertise for one of these skills will allow you to feel more in control, which helps you take charge of more tasks and leadership roles.

Feeling out of control can also come from struggling to stand out in the workplace, especially when your job is virtual. It can be difficult to feel noticed on a conference call or Zoom meeting, and this might trigger feeling disconnected.

To regain power and stand out to your boss, you can send email updates or take the extra initiative to do outside research on a group project. You might consider sending your manager a thank you note with a small gift card for supporting everyone during the pandemic.

In virtual meetings, you can create a leadership role for yourself by suggesting that you will bring a motivational quote to each meeting. A small gesture like this gives you a way to stand out, and you can be proud to know that you’re making a difference in the overall experience of your team.


2. Assess Your Financial Stress

When things feel out of control, it can be due to your financial situation. Perhaps you are overwhelmed by debt or unable to pay off a credit card. If this is the case, you’ll want to hit pause and look at behaviors that are causing these circumstances.

Maybe you are overspending on expensive products when there are cheaper alternatives that are just as good. Or you might be paying for subscriptions to services that you never use. Once you figure out what habits are taking a toll on your finances, you can make a plan to regain control in this area and improve your situation.

On the other hand, being overwhelmed by your finances might be the result of not planning enough. If you are considering starting your own business, be sure you are fully aware of the costs involved and determine whether it’s worth it to accrue that debt. By evaluating your options and getting recommendations, you will be more financially prepared.

If you are thinking about earning a college degree or a postgraduate certification, try to plan ahead. Analyze what job you might have with your qualifications and whether it will allow you to pay off any loans or debt. You could also look into alternative career paths, such as specialty trades that do not require 4-year degrees but are a reliable source of income. If you have a solid plan, you can take charge when things feel out of control.

3. Allow Yourself to Outgrow Relationships That No Longer Serve You

Part of taking back your life when things get out of control is understanding your needs first, and then the needs of others. With relationships, desires or lifestyles may change. If this happens, it might feel like things are out of control. If this is the case, remind yourself that you can decide if it is a relationship you want to hold onto.

By assessing your needs first, you might find you’ve outgrown the connection. You don’t necessarily have to end the partnership, but you have the power to change the dynamic. Consider taking time apart or becoming a supportive friend rather than a romantic partner.

With friendships, perhaps your interests no longer align. Your buddies might enjoy getting together for drinks every weekend, but you would rather spend that time and money on a cooking class. It’s okay to focus on yourself. You aren’t ending the friendship. You are just taking more control over your time.


The same goes for family relationships. Maybe you’ve always paid the bills for a relative, but it just isn’t feasible for you anymore. Consider telling your family member that you can no longer financially provide for them, but you will support them in other ways.

Though this might be difficult, it’s important you have to look after your own well-being first. It’s like how the airplane saying goes: put the oxygen mask on yourself before putting it on someone else. When you understand what connections are best serving you, then you will feel more in control of your life.

4. Practice Positive Self-Talk

When things get out of control, it’s easy to be self-deprecating or hard on yourself. This can quickly lead to a downward spiral of feeling overwhelmed and powerless. To take back your life, create a mantra that you will say when you have a negative thought or feel stressed out.

For example, when something happens that didn’t go the way you wanted, say out loud, “that’s life; release it.” Or if your mind is filled with a swarm of discouraging opinions, try shouting “go away!” You will find that you feel lighter from taking the power back.

Even spending a few moments in front of the mirror every day to say a few encouraging words can be very empowering. When you are your own motivator and say phrases like “today will be a great day” or “we’re going to get past this,” it can transform your mindset, and you will radiate confidence.

Looking into your eyes in the mirror and declaring, “I am proud of myself,” can be uplifting and change your outlook on a difficult situation. The next time you are going to give a presentation, state “I can do this” at least three times. This positive self-talk will encourage you to do the best that you can. Even when things feel out of control, if your thoughts are positive and you are kind to yourself, you will be better able to take back your life.

5. Find Your Go-To People

Having people in your life you know you can count on is invaluable. We all benefit from support or advice from a friend to remind us we don’t have to tackle every obstacle on our own. If there is ever a moment when you feel like you have too much going on, find the go-to person you can call for guidance or vent out.


Various people in your life can be coaches in different ways. You might have a specific person you can reach out to when you’re having job challenges because this friend is really career-focused. When you need a shoulder to cry on, find that empathetic companion you know will best comfort you.

A close family member can also be the key. They can help you clear your mind and pull you out of a rut by offering a new perspective and reminding you that you are strong. Your family often knows you best, and they will always support you. Even your four-legged friends can be there when you need to get something off your chest. Our pets are great listeners. Having loved-ones like this who empower and encourage you in times of need will make it easier to gain control when life gets tough.

6. Revive Your Energy

To take back your life when you’re feeling overwhelmed, try discovering ways to be rejuvenated. If you’re working from home and sit at your desk for hours, consider taking 5-minute breaks to move around. This could be quickly walking in your home to get your energy level up or even doing 10 jumping jacks and a few pushups.

Consider buying a standing desk that gives you the freedom to be active while doing work. Moving will get your blood pumping, and instead of feeling tired and complacent, you will be motivated to conquer anything.

Stimulating your five senses is another way to revive your energy. Turning on all the lights might make you feel more awake and motivated or dimming them and lighting a candle may help you concentrate. Opening a window, feeling the fresh air, and hearing sounds from outdoors can also be revitalizing. Even adding family photos to your desk or putting an inspirational poster on the wall can be visually stimulating and increase your energy.

You might consider listening to music that pumps you up while you work. Your favorite songs will be invigorating and empower you to take on the day. Finding energy and motivation will set you up for success and assist you in gaining control of life.

7. Make Time for Reflection

Sometimes, life feels out of control because we are constantly busy and surrounded by noise. You have to find that quiet place where you can reflect and ponder on how you’re really feeling. This might be when you’re doing the dishes or folding laundry. A chore can give us the space to process what is happening in our life. Finishing a task is also therapeutic and allows us to feel lighter.


Even driving to work can be a quiet time for reflecting before the next activity. It creates an opportunity to mentally plan and prepare for what’s coming up. The shower is also where some of the best ideas are generated. We can wash away a day full of tension and come out feeling refreshed and more alert.

When reflecting on your past or future, consider breaking it down into things you can control in a day. Ask yourself if you are happy or are if there habits or activities you want to change.

You might decide that you’re unsatisfied with your weight or eating habits. Just becoming aware of this is part of taking back your life. Remember the words of Maya Angelou: When you know better, do better.

By hitting the pause button and making time for reflection, you will be able to move towards regaining control.

Final Thoughts

It’s never too late to take back your life. You might feel like you will never get out of your financial hardship, but there are ways to get assistance.

Debt can be written off, and you can always negotiate. If you feel stuck in a stagnant relationship, you can always take a break from that person, go to counseling, or start a new partnership. It’s never too late to pursue your personal goals. If you want to go after that promotion or start a new hobby, there is no time like the present!

Remember, you always have options and life is a journey. If everything were perfect, we would not have the heroic stories from times when we picked ourselves up after a setback. By practicing these 7 tips, you will feel prepared to tackle and embrace life when it feels out of control.


More Tips on How to Take Back Your Life

Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via

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Nancy Solari

Nancy Solari is an accomplished CEO, life coach, and motivational speaker.

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

How to Make a Change With the Four Quadrants of Change

How to Make a Change With the Four Quadrants of Change

Quitting smoking is the easiest thing in the world. Some people quit smoking a thousand times in their lives! Everyone knows someone with this mindset.

But this type of change is superficial. It doesn’t last. For real, lasting change to take place, we need to consider the quadrants of change.

Real change, the change that is fundamental, consistent, and longitudinal (lasting over time) has to happen in four quadrants of your life.

It doesn’t have to be quitting smoking; it can be any habit you want to break — drinking, biting your nails, overeating, playing video games, shopping, and more.

Most experts focus on only one area of change, some focus on two areas, but almost none focus on all four quadrants of change. That’s why much of change management fails.

Whether it is in the personal life of a single individual through actions and habits, or in a corporate environment, regarding the way they conduct their business, current change management strategies are lacking.

It all stems from ignoring at least one part of the equation.

So, today, we will cover all four quadrants of change and learn the formula for how to change fundamentally and never go back to your “old self.”

A word of warning: this is simple to do, but it’s not easy. Anyone who tells you that change is easy is either trying to sell you something, or they have no idea what they’re talking about.

Those who want an overnight solution have left the article now, so that leaves you, me, and the real process of change.

The Four Quadrants of Change

There are four areas, or quadrants, in which you need to make a change in order for it to stick. If you miss or ignore a single one of these, your change won’t stick, and you will go back to your previous behavior.

The four quadrants are:

  1. Internal individual – mindset
  2. External individual – behavior
  3. Internal collective – culture/support system
  4. External collective – laws, rules, regulations, teams, systems, states

All four of these quadrants of change may sound like they could carry change all by themselves, but they can’t. So, be sure to implement your change in all four quadrants. Otherwise, it will all be in vain.

First Quadrant — Internal Individual

This quadrant focuses on the internal world of an individual, and it concerns itself with the mindset of a person.


Our actions stem from our thoughts (most of the time), and if we change our mindset toward something, we will begin to process of changing the way we act.

People who use the law of attraction fall into this category, where they’ve recognized the strength of thoughts and how they make us change ourselves.

Even Lao Tzu had a great saying regarding this:

“Watch your thoughts. They become words. Watch your words. They become deeds. Watch your deeds. They become habits. Watch your habits. They become character. Character is everything.” [1]

One of the most impactful ways you can make a change in this quadrant is to implement what James Clear calls identity-based habits. [2]

Instead of prioritizing the outcome of a change (ex.: I want to lose 20 pounds), you prioritize your identity as a person (I want to become/remain a healthy person).

Here are a couple of examples for you to see the strength of this kind of resolution:

I want to watch many movies = I am a cinema lover
I want to clean my apartment = I am a clean person
I want to harvest my crops = I am a harvester (farmer)
I want to swim = I am a swimmer

This quadrant is about changing the identity you attach to a certain action. Once you re-frame your thinking in this way, you will have completed the first of the quadrants of change.

Second Quadrant — External Individual

This quadrant focuses on the external world of an individual and concerns itself with the behavior of a person.

This is where people like Darren Hardy, the author of the Compound Effect reside. Hardy is about doing small, consistent actions that will create change in the long run (the compound effect).

You want to lose 30 pounds? Start by eating just 150 calories (approximately two slices of bread) less a day, and in two and a half years, you will have lost 30 pounds.

The same rules apply to business, investing, sports, and multiple other areas. Small, consistent actions can create big changes.

This works — I’ve read 20 extra pages a day for the past two years, and it accumulated into 90 books read in two years. [3]


Here, you have two ways of dealing with change behaviorally: negative environmental design and positive environmental design.

Negative Environmental Design

This is when you eliminate the things from your environment that revert you to the old behavior. If you want to stop eating ice cream, you don’t keep it in your freezer.

If you want to stop watching TV, you remove the batteries from the remote and put them on the other side of the house (it works!).

Positive Environmental Design

This is when you put the things that you want to do withing reach — literally!

You want to learn how to play guitar? Put your guitar right next to your sofa. You want to head to the gym? Put the gym clothes in a backpack and put it on top of your shoes.

You want to read more books? Have a book on your nightstand, your kitchen table, and on the sofa.

You can even combine this last trick with my early advice about removing the batteries from your remote control, combining the negative and positive environmental designs for maximum effect.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

If you just change your behavior and leave your intentions (thoughts) intact, your discipline will fail you and the real change won’t happen.

You will simply revert back to the previous behavior because you haven’t changed the fundamental root of why this problem occurs in the first place.

That is why you need to create change both in the first quadrant (internal individual — mindset) and the second quadrant (external individual — behavior). These quadrants of change are two sides of the same coin.

Most change management would stop here, and that’s why most change management fails.

No matter how much you focus on yourself, there are things that affect our lives that are happening outside of us. That is the focus of the two remaining quadrants.

Third Quadrant — Internal Collective

This quadrant focuses on the internal world of the collective where the individual resides, and it concerns itself with the culture of that collective.

There are two different distinctions here: the Inner Ring and the Outer Ring.


The Inner Ring

These are your friends and your family. The Inner Ring is the place where the social and cultural norms of your friends and family rule.

So, if everyone in your family is overweight and every lunch is 1,000 calories per person, then you can say goodbye to your idea of becoming healthy.

In this case, the culture of your group, the inner norms that guide the decisions, actions, thoughts, ideas, and patterns of behaviors are all focused on eating as much as possible. [4]

You need to have the support of your Inner Ring if you want to achieve change. If you don’t have this support, the the best way to proceed is by either changing your entire Inner Ring or distancing yourself from it.

Beware — most Inner Rings won’t accept the fact that you want to change and will undermine you on many occasions — some out of habit, some due to jealousy, and some because supporting you would mean that they have to change, too.

You don’t have to cut ties with people, but you can consciously decide to spend less time with them.

The Outer Ring

The Outer Ring consists of the culture of your company, community, county, region, and country. For example, it’s quite hard to be an open-minded person in North Nigeria, no matter how you, your friends, and your family think.

The Outer Ring is the reason why young people move to the places that share their value systems instead of staying in their current city, county, or country.

Sometimes, you need to change your Outer Ring as well because its culture is preventing you from changing.

I see this every single day in my country, where the culture can be so toxic that it doesn’t matter how great of a job you have or how great your life currently looks — the culture will change you, inch by inch, until you become like it.

Fourth Quadrant — External Collective

This quadrant focuses on the external world of the collective where the individual resides, and it concerns itself with the systems, teams, laws, and rules of that collective.

This quadrant is about the external manifestations of the collective culture. If the majority of the environment thinks in a certain way, they will create institutions that will implement that way of thinking.

The same rules apply to companies.

One example for companies would be those managers who think that employees are lazy, lack responsibility, and need constant supervision (or what is called Theory X in management).


Then, those managers implement systems that reflect that kind of culture– no flexible work hours, strict rules about logging work, no remote work, etc.

Your thoughts, however, may be different. You might believe that people want responsibility, that they are capable of self-direction, that they can make good decisions, and that managers don’t need to stand on their necks if they want something done (this is called Theory Y in management).

Then, you would want to have flexible working hours, different ways of measuring your productivity (for example, not time on the job but work produced), and remote work, if possible for your profession.

This is when you enter into a conflict with the external collective quadrant. Here, you have four options: leave, persevere, neglect, and voice.


You can simply leave the company/organization/community/country and go to a different place. Most people decide to do this.


This is when you see that the situation isn’t good, but you decide to stick at it and wait for the perfect time (or position) where you can implement change.


This is where you give up on the change you want to see and just go with the flow, doing the minimal work necessary to keep the status quo.

These are the people who are disengaged at work and are doing just the bare minimum necessary (which, in the U.S. is around 65% of the workforce).

I did this only once, and it’s probably the only thing I regret doing in my life.


This is where you actively work on changing the situation, and the people in charge know that you want to create a change.

It doesn’t matter if it’s your company, community, or your country; you are actively calling for a change and will not stop until it’s implemented.

Putting It All Together

When you take it all into account, change is simple, in theory, but it isn’t easy to execute. It takes work in all four quadrants:

  1. Internal individual — mindset
  2. External individual — behavior
  3. Internal collective — culture/support system
  4. External collective — laws, rules, regulations, teams, systems, states

Some will require more work, some less, but you will need to create a change in all four of them.

But don’t let that discourage you because change is possible, and many people have done this. The best time to start changing was yesterday, but the second best time is today.


Featured photo credit: Djim Loic via


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