Take Control of Your Life: 7 Steps to Self-Mastery

Self-mastery have the power to transform your life.
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The seven steps to self-mastery have the power to transform your life. To give you time to digest and work through all seven, I broke up this article into three parts. This is Part 1. Check out Part 2 and Part 3 to achieve your full potential!

John can’t remember how many times he has decided he is going to start getting up early in the morning to go for a run. He’s gone to bed earlier, tried to set up running partners, left his clothes and gear right next to his bedside, and many other tips and tricks to start the habit, yet he just can’t seem to stop hitting snooze in the morning, rolling back over, and going to sleep.

Lisa never thought she had a temper. She’s always been a cool and calm introvert. She avoids conflict—not that she frequently has much of a reason to be in conflict. But she can’t seem to stop screaming at her kids. She cries as she shares her frustrations with her husband. She wants to be a great mom, but she finds herself unable to quell the impulse when her young children refuse to listen or flat out do exactly what she has told them not to do.

Scott feels stuck. He gets so excited and invested in life—relationships, jobs, even hobbies—but quickly finds himself losing interest and moving on to other things. His family has told him he succumbs to mood swings, and he knows they’re right. He wants to move forward, but he just can’t seem to get a hold of what he really wants, and he doesn’t know what to do about it.

Self-mastery, as an idea, is simple. It is the ability to control your impulses and subject them to rational and intentional decision-making. But achieving any level of self-mastery is a whole different story.

Self-mastery, as an idea, is simple. It is the ability to control your impulses and subject them to rational and intentional decision‑making.

People who lack self-mastery live very erratic lives. One minute they are happy, the next minute they are miserable. One minute they are full of passion and energy, the next minute they are hopeless and despondent. They tend to find themselves repeating the same destructive cycles over and over again.

Achieving a level of self-mastery is a critical life skill which will pay dividends in your your relationships, your career, your finances, your health, and your well-being.

Here is a seven-step process for achieving self-mastery. Apply this process to your life, and you will discover an untapped power within you.

Table of Contents

Step 1: Understand - Article 1

Step 2: Dream - Article 1

Step 3: Filter - Article 2

Step 4: Envision - Article 2

Step 5: Choose - Article 2

Step 6: Overcome - Article 3

Step 7: Achieve - Article 3

Step 1: Understand

You would think that the easiest awareness to have is self-awareness, but you would be mistaken. From the person next to you at the coffee shop who is carrying on a conversation far too loudly, to the woefully under-qualified job applicant, self-awareness is surprisingly lacking in many people’s lives.

Self-mastery begins with awareness. First, you must know and understand yourself. You simply cannot control what you don’t know.

I’d encourage you to consider these four questions to increase your self-awareness:

1. What are my natural talents and abilities?

Be sure to not get caught up in talents and abilities such as throwing a ninety-five-miles-per-hour fastball or being able to write a New York Times bestseller. If you allow yourself to envision that only these kinds of talents and abilities count, than neither you nor I are going to be able to find much worth noting.

Another way to consider this question is, what am I naturally good at? Maybe you are good with people. Maybe you are a great listener. Maybe you are a hard worker. Maybe trust comes naturally to you. Maybe you are organized or a great problem solver. Maybe you are great with money.

Consider your natural talents and abilities, and write them down. Spend serious time with this question. Not two minutes. Not a quick scribble and move on. Don’t think yourself talentless and skip it altogether. Think deeply for at least ten minutes, and write down your answers.

2. What is my state in life?

What we are able to do—and when and how we’re are to do it—is often influenced by our state in life.

Are you young and single, with ample time and a flexible schedule? Are you later on in life, when work accomplishments and family responsibilities aren’t as important? Are you in the throes of trying to balance a demanding career with a young family?

You have a limited supply of time, energy, and attention. How much of those resources are being taken up given your current state in life? When we have only a little time, energy, and attention to give, we must look for small and simple ways to display our self-mastery. If you have an abundance of time, energy, and attention, you might be able to focus on something bigger.

Once you have a solid inventory of your time, energy, and attention, you will be able to more effectively know what is in your control and what is out of your control.

3. What are my strengths and weaknesses?

Don’t confuse this with our first question. The first question looks for the potential that lies in your talents and abilities, which you may or may not be using at the moment. This question is to help become aware of where you are now.

Where are you really thriving in life at the moment? Is it your health and well-being? Your intellectual pursuits? Your career or finances? Your relationships or marriage? Your parenting? There are probably areas of your life where you feel like you are really thriving, so make sure you have an understanding of those areas.

Incredible dreams make an incredible person.

On the other hand, you probably have some areas of your life where you feel like you are merely surviving. Like you are just getting by. Again, get really clear on these areas so you can look for negative patterns or pitfalls to avoid in the future.

4. Where have I seen success and failure?

If you want an incredible clue as to how to succeed in the future, look to how you have succeeded in the past. If you want to avoid future mistakes, look to your failures in the past.

You and I are constantly changing and growing. Self-mastery is about becoming more intentional around that change and pushing our growth towards the-best-version-of-ourselves. But even if you don’t feel like you have a great handle on self-mastery, it is important to recognize how you have already changed and grown for the better.

Perhaps you are more patient than you were ten years ago. Maybe you have wisdom from life experiences. Maybe you know yourself better. Maybe a negative experience—like a bad breakup or a lost job—has taught you about who you are and what you are looking for in life.

Take inventory of the ways you have grown and changed, and don’t leave out the areas of failure or letdown. Search for the wisdom that each of these experiences holds.

When you are aware of your successes and failures, you will be able to know where you are more likely to have success in the future, and where you are more likely to experience pitfalls.

Step 2: Dream

Few gifts set humanity apart from all other creatures as much as our ability to dream. The human person can look into the future, imagine a bigger and better reality, and then come back to the present and make that richly imagined future a reality. It’s a powerful gift.

Everyone needs a dream. If you don’t have dreams, you don’t have much. No one is born already having accomplished incredible things and great dreams, but there are ordinary people like you and me who have committed themselves to incredible dreams. And those incredible dreams propel them to do incredible things. Incredible dreams make an incredible person.

If you want to be physically healthy, you need an incredible dream for yourself physically.

If you want to have great relationships, you need an incredible dream for your relationships.

If you want to have a healthy work life, you need an incredible dream for your career.

If you want to be intellectually healthy, you need an incredible dream for your mind.

If you want to be financially healthy, you need an incredible dream for your finances.

Dreaming is at the very heart of self-mastery. The only possible way to control your whims and impulses is to make them subordinate to some deeper and greater desire. These deep and great desires are your dreams.

If we have no dreams, we have nothing to move us forward.

But dreaming—the great gift that it is—is often cast aside. Faced with discouragement, present worries, conflicting desires, an inability to prioritize, a poverty of time and energy, and so many other things, people cast their ability to dream into the fire, settling their sights on simpler goals. The cry of these tired souls becomes, “I just want life to work!”

The irony is that life will not work in the absence of dreams. In fact, it is the absence of dreams that makes life cease to work. And this brings us to the most important question of dreaming: Do you know what you want?

Most people can tell you exactly what they don’t want, but very few have the same clarity about what they do want.

If you don’t know what you want from life, everything will appear either as an obstacle or as a burden. But the whole world gets out of the way for people who know what they want and where they are going. Be assured, if you don’t know what you want and where you are going, you are lost.

And so, it is time to start dreaming again. Here are ten categories of dreams to help spur your thoughts and get you started:

Adventure: If you could travel to any three places in the next ten years, where would you go?

Creative: What hobby or sport would you like to pursue?

Physical: What aspect of your physical health and wellness would you like to improve?

Legacy: What ministry, cause, or charity would you like to start supporting or increase your support for?

Emotional: What one relationship would you like to improve or grow?

Psychological: Fears aside, what activity would you try?

Professional: What’s your dream job?

Intellectual: If you could speak an additional language, what would it be?

Spiritual: What’s your dream for how you might develop a greater sense of inner peace? Who does God want you to be?

Character: What character qualities do you notice in other people that you would like to expand in your own life?

Take ten minutes and use these categories to help your dreams begin to take shape. Don’t think too much. Don’t overanalyze or edit yourself as you make your list. Write down everything, even the things you feel are foolish. Your answers don’t have to be definitive; they will change over time. But it’s still important to write them down now. It will help you as you venture through life.

Self-mastery is impossible without a dream. If we have no dreams, we have nothing to move us forward. If we have no dreams, we must be content to ride the roller coaster of our whims and passions and impulses.


Self-mastery have the power to transform your life.
(Don't miss an article!)

The seven steps to self-mastery have the power to transform your life. To give you time to digest and work through all seven, I broke up this article into three parts. This is Part 1. Look at Part 2 and Part 3 to discover the other steps and achieve your full potential!

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