By JOYCE KADUKI
Every once in a while, we get to a point where we feel as if we are losing control of demands in our lives. Sometimes, it seems someone has taken over the driver’s seat, and we are right at the back, looking on helplessly at the speed and direction our lives are taking, yet being unable to do anything about it. It is a moment of powerlessness where we operate in reactive mode.
A situation like that is not sustainable. The question is, how does one end up there? Even more important, what should one do to retain or regain control of their life?
Causes of loss of control
Whenever you find yourself feeling out of control, you will have been driven there by either one of the following. First, matters that you have the ability to change or influence in some way, but for whatever reason, you have left them unattended to and they have spiraled out of control. These include consistently overworking, bad eating and sleeping habits and keeping wrong company. Secondly, factors over which you have absolutely no control over, like sickness, a bad boss, technological advancements and government regulation.
These two sets of factors are not mutually exclusive, and could collectively build up pressure to the point where you find yourself unable to cope. What then, should you do to regain control?
How you handle the situations will ultimately depend on the causes. It is, therefore, advisable to start with an analysis and subsequent understanding of what is causing the feelings of loss of control. The more accurate the diagnosis, the higher the chances of coming up with corrective action that addresses the actual need.
For lasting results, it is best to combine both short- and long-term interventions, the conventional and the unorthodox, that address an individual holistically. Let’s start with practical action steps for specific situations, and then move on to more general interventions.
We are living in an age of innovation; the life-blood of business. Innovation drives value and enables businesses to remain competitive. By its very nature, it can be highly disruptive to workplaces and lives. Furthermore, the ensuing changes are not just for a season – they are here to stay. If you find yourself feeling out of control because of these sorts of changes, embrace them and learn how to live with them. Do they call for a change in mindset or re-tooling on your part? If so, develop a positive mindset and take steps to acquire the skills required to enable you cope. That could mean going back to school, taking a short course or even asking a colleague to teach you.
There are two aspects here; the personal, and the environment. At a personal level, getting enough sleep at night, maintaining a regular exercise schedule, eating the right diet and taking regular breaks during working hours can significantly boost your well-being and enable you maintain a sense of control. Beyond that, you should consider a complete change in the external environment, even if that means transferring to another part of the company or changing employers altogether. This would particularly be helpful where loss of control is caused by working with a bad boss or in a toxic work environment. Before you make the physical change, however, you should do a self-audit first and take corrective action required on your part, as your boss may just be reacting to your own bad behavior. In a situation where you do not have skills required for the job you hold, you should look for a better fit between your skills, interests and the work you are doing.
There’s nothing as empowering as having a good support system in place. This is normally made up of people who would like to see you succeed; such as family members, friends and professional coaches and mentors. It is, therefore, advisable that you surround yourself with these type of people.
In addition, you should take time to build relationships with people whose company you enjoy, and being around them gives you a feel-good factor. Others may be those whose support or networks could be critical for your success.
And of course, maintaining a positive attitude no matter the outlook on life plays a big role in helping one regain a measure of control. Calvin Dillard’s advice that you should “gain a deep sense of calm by responding to situations out of your control without acting out of control” is very helpful in this respect.
People are spiritual beings. As a result, one’s spiritual state has an effect on their overall well-being and ultimately, performance and productivity. Dr. Fahri Karakas, a lecturer in business and leadership at Norwich Business School, UK, examined over 140 articles which addressed the connection between spirituality and productivity in the workplace.
He published his research findings in 2010, in the Journal of Business Ethics,where he noted that spirituality enhances quality of life and well-being, provides a sense of meaning and purpose at work, and provides a sense of community and being connected.
Spirituality plays an important role in helping one regain control of their life. You would therefore do well to pay attention to it, and address it.
Schedule time in your calendar for yourself, whether it is time to plan, read a book or engage in a sport. You could also use the time to take part in other activities that recharge you – for some people it’s gardening, taking a long drive or baking.
According to a December 2014 Forbes article, How to actually make time for yourself when your schedule is crazy, “When you plan your week, treat your downtime activities as some of your major to-dos, setting aside time for them in the same way you would set aside time for a big meeting or a project you need to work on.”
Different activities will work at different times, depending on the need. You just have to keep trying different ones till you find out what works best in helping you regain control.