Spoiler alert: the most direct action we can take to improve our health, wellbeing, and satisfaction in life is to take more control over our own lives.
I'm going a little off book today; I had a different topic in mind for this week, but I had two conversations with friends this morning - different friends, different conversations - and I’ve really gotten me fired up about this topic.
Yes, creativity, nature, all the things that I talk about and truly believe in, really are good for our wellbeing. But there is something else foundational that I’ve forgotten to bring into the discussion – exerting personal power over our lives.
Allow me to define what I mean by that. Agency is defined by Merriam Webster as the person or thing through which power is exerted or an end is achieved. This is the ability to control take charge or control over our own lives.
Most of us in the US and other developed countries have a large degree of autonomy over our decisions, lives, thoughts and choices.
Have we taken a couple of steps back, taken a deep breath, gotten a fresh perspective, and revisited these things on a regular cadence? All of the other things - connecting with nature, implementing a creative process, designing your life intentionally - all of that falls under actually gaining sovereignty.
There is so much power in sovereignty over your choices and actively managing your life.
(When I say you, I don't mean YOU, my friend, I mean us, all of us.)
Why does it matter? Because the more you have control over your life, the more options and possibilities you have. You can direct your life onto the trajectory that you most dearly desire.
The first thing we need to do to gain that control is take a really honest look. Do an analysis, start paying attention and notice when and where you might be giving away that control.
How do we give away control?
In many ways large and small. Operating from habit, obligation, cultural norms, and anything else that causes us to automatically think something, decide something, or do something should be examined. When you begin to identify these areas and make small shifts in your thoughts and behavior, a lot of wonderful things begin to happen.
This paradigm, gaining control over my own life, is actually the big transformation in my life.
If you don't know my story, I won't go into it right now, but I can tell you that well into adulthood, I hadn’t learned this skill. When I did begin exercising control, it was slow. It was a piece-part, fragmented approach because it grows and the momentum builds on itself.
It's not immediate, of course, and you must continue doing it regularly because it's an ongoing process.
The revelation I've had today is that THIS is what I am trying to share with people. That is what I am so passionate and excited about. It's about helping people grab a little bit of that control.
Be aware that a person likely exercises more control in certain areas of their life versus others, and that's because some domains feel safer, or we have more comfort or expertise there.
We may be in a system, let's say at work, where we have more power based on role or experience and so we naturally begin to align with that. But in areas of your life where you haven't practiced this, it’s a huge opportunity.
As you do it, you begin to feel stronger in the world. You feel more capable. You build a body of evidence that in fact, it's okay to agree with something that your family wants you to do, for instance, or maybe change entirely your approach to something, even though this is the way you've always done it, You've changed now. You’re growing.
This may sound elementary to you but I challenge you to implement it. It's transformative and life-changing, take my word for it.
When you do this, you also enact something else very important in your life. You don't stay stuck in indecision, empty rationale, excuses, inertia, intellectual and physical laziness, or blame.
Quick side note: I know that all of the systems in the world - the groups, the communities, etc. - I know they're not fair. They're not and I believe that we can and should fight injustice when it exists. Absolutely. That's not really what I'm talking about today, but I want to acknowledge that is real and true.
On top of that, taking individual responsibility within those systems, this is how we make our lives this beautiful, shining, glittery thing that we want them to be.
So how do we take control over our lives?
We begin to know ourselves. That takes work. We begin to trust ourselves based on evidence and real action. We invest in ourselves. Put in time, energy, and critical thinking. It might even mean investing in a class or some additional learning.
The point is we begin to take some of that power back and we always keep our word to ourselves. The promises you make and the words you say to yourself are just as important as your word might be to a family member, a loved one, or a romantic partner.
This is how we take back our power.
Use whatever method works for you to do this. For me, two things stand out - my creative practice and a very strong support system. Neither of these things came early, easily, or were given to me. I’ve built them intentionally over time.
Our control (or lack thereof) directly impacts our decisions, and our ability to follow through on our commitments to ourselves.
When I think about my vision for 2023, it’s not a to-do list, not a hard-charging, militant approach, but more about who am I becoming and what are the ways that I can support that person that I can see in my vision.
When you find ways to exert more power over all aspects of your personal life, other things start falling in place.
Speaking of the New Year, in the past week, I’ve had the opportunity to lead two 2023 visioning sessions and there is a very special event coming up on the day of New Year's Eve. Leading these gave me incredible insight and helped me to understand this principle at the core of everything we strive to do.
I’d like to invite you to a unique and exciting event – a 2023 celebration and visioning session in collaboration with Christine Stomp, founder of Badlands Yoga and an absolutely incredible teacher and yogi.
The four-hour workshop includes a creative visioning project and activity led by **yours truly**. Christine will lead the rest of the workshop and show you exactly how you can implement a home yoga practice. It's all about envisioning how your life can be exactly what you want it to be and then how you can take practical steps to make that happen and follow through.
There are in-person options as well as electronic options. I hope to see you there and I'm wishing you peace and power in the the New Year and beyond.
Who am I?
I’m a systems engineer and creative coach living in ABQ, NM. I believe that we can intentionally design our lives to align with our deepest dreams and desires.