Self-Management, Transformation

11 Essential Self-Management Skills You Need To Unf*ck Your Life

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The self-management skills described below have enabled me to master myself, my feelings, thoughts, and actions, and transform my life.

Learning how to manage myself has been one of the best decisions I ever made. After over a decade of depression, loneliness, chronic pain, and misery, it was like discovering a hidden part of myself. One that finally understood the real meaning of taking personal responsibility; one that could control my emotions, thoughts, and behaviors… and change them!

But such deep, personal transformation didn’t happen overnight, and it’s still a learning process. It probably always will be. However, there are specific skills that I had to learn (and continuously learn and put into practice), to manage myself effectively.

I thought I’d share here my own take on what the 11 most important and effective self-management skills are, and why you should consider acquiring them to effectively dominate yourself and master your life.

self-management skills

1. Self-Awareness

Self-awareness refers to our ability to understand our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It also refers to our capacity to identify and understand our deep-rooted values and beliefs, and (more importantly) how they align (or not) with our true desires and internal standards.

When we see ourselves clearly, it has a positive impact on our lives, our decisions, confidence, relationships, and even our ability to communicate (source: Harvard Business Review).

Without self-awareness, it is virtually impossible to prioritize, identify, and communicate our needs to others, set boundaries, or identify the right course of action for ourselves.

A few things that have helped me cultivate self-awareness include journaling daily for almost 2 years, daily practice of mindfulness, and learning about (and putting into practice) cognitive behavioral therapy techniques (CBT).

2. (Self)-Discipline

After being raised in a very strict household (thanks, Dad)  and spending my whole childhood in very strict private (Catholic) schools, I was convinced that discipline = loss of freedom, and I feared it.

In retrospect, I think that running away from structure and discipline is what led me to this emotional and health mess I was in.

The truth is, discipline is actually the key to a freer, happier life and self-discipline is an ESSENTIAL self-management skill to acquire.

Seriously, if you had to pick just one skill to master here, I’d say discipline.

(Well, to be fair, it’s hard to “become better” at discipline if you are not self-aware, so you’d need to pick self-awareness AND discipline. But still…).

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Self-discipline is the cornerstone of self-management and mastery over oneself, but it goes way beyond just making yourself do “boring” stuff every day.

Yes, self-discipline is about cultivating habits, consistency, perseverance, and learning to align your actions with your goals. But it’s also about honoring your intentions and the commitments you make to yourself. It’s both a building block and an expression of self-respect.

3. Setting Boundaries

You cannot (and I mean cannot) manage yourself effectively and be disciplined if you don’t know how to say ‘no’ and set boundaries, for others AND yourself.

Yes, you too have to learn to respect your own boundaries, and this is an art in and of itself.

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Learning how to set boundaries is crucial for preserving your well-being amidst external demands and influences, and maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself and with others.

Setting boundaries also involves acquiring the ability to communicate our personal limits and needs clearly. So naturally, boundaries and self-awareness go hand-in-hand.

Related post: The Surprising Way You Learn To Set Boundaries

4. Self-Care

It may sound silly, but do you actually know how to take care of yourself? I mean “real” self-care, not “going-to-the-spa-once-a-month-while-eating-pizza-everyday-at-your-desk-because-you’re-too-busy” self-care.

Do you know what activities you need to do to rejuvenate your body, mind, and soul? Do you actually do them?

Learning how to take care of ourselves is such an underrated skill! Not only is self-care an element of self-management, but when we take good care of ourselves (appropriate care of ourselves), it improves our ability to manage ourselves in other aspects of our lives.

Furthermore, when we prioritize self-care, it helps us cultivate a deeper sense of self-compassion, self-love, and fulfillment.

Learning how to take appropriate care of ourselves is a skill that can transform your life.

Read also:

5. Problem-Solving

I learned to manage myself once I started seeing everything that was wrong in my life as a problem that could be solved and then proceeded to do just that: solve them.

Problem-solving is an essential self-management skill to cultivate. It involves the ability to identify our problems and challenges, analyze situations, and generate effective solutions.

It’s about applying critical thinking to our lives while developing a more detached approach to our problems. Instead of viewing our problems as signs that we ARE failures, we simply view them as situations that need solving (when possible).

Cultivating a problem-solving mindset also implies that you need to believe and have faith in your ability to learn and grow (i.e., have a growth mindset).

Related post: How I got Rid of Severe Depression and Anxiety by Solving My Problems

self-management techniques

6. Acceptance

Another underrated but essential self-management skill to cultivate is acceptance.

Acceptance involves acknowledging and embracing reality, be it emotions, thoughts, or external events, without judgment or resistance.

The mental suffering you create is always some form of non-acceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is. (…) The intensity of the suffering depends on the degree of resistance to the present moment” (Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now)

Managing ourselves means letting go of control over the uncontrollable as much as directing our thoughts and actions toward changing what we can control.

I also find that mastery over myself begins with accepting where I am and what I am feeling now, and then going from there. And, you’ve got to admit: navigating life’s challenges becomes a lot easier when you cultivate inner peace!

I do realize that it’s not always that easy. Sometimes, acceptance simply means recognizing that we are in a dark place at the moment and accept it as such, not try to change it or force ourselves to see “the bright side”.

For example, I was recently in a very dark place, and I shared here 6 things I was ashamed of in my life at that moment. No one is a super human. We all have highs and lows.

7. Perseverance

Another essential self-management skill to cultivate is perseverance. You will not manage yourself effectively if you give up every time you encounter an obstacle or setback.

Perseverance is an unwavering commitment to persist: YOU keep going because YOU decided you would, not because external situations are easy or hard.

That is also where the link between perseverance and self-discipline becomes more evident. Self-discipline is when you do the thing you decided you’d do when you said you’d do it, no matter how you feel about it; perseverance is what keeps you going when things seem hard.

That does not mean you should not assess situations and adapt, by the way.

But if you just give up every time things get hard, then you are not managing yourself effectively: you are just a slave to your external circumstances.

Read also: 31 Inspiring Quotes to Fuel Your Inner Strength and Resilience

8. Prioritization

Another fundamental skill for managing yourself effectively is your ability to identify what to work on, why, and in what order.

Without clear priorities, you will become overwhelmed by the volume of desires, choices, tasks, problems, or directions you face in your daily life.

Your resources are limited. If you don’t prioritize, you can’t focus; if you don’t focus, you can’t take effective action; and without effective action, you will not go anywhere or achieve much.

I mean, you might, but it will be like waking up one day and wondering how you got there, if it’s what you really want, or why you are so unhappy.

Prioritization is about figuring out what you want the most, and managing yourself in order to get just that.

clarity journal

9. Controlling Your Attitude

Learning to control your attitude is key. It’s one of the most important skills to learn when it comes to self-management.

If you are constantly playing victim or martyr, blaming your past, yourself, or the world, and indulging too much in self-pity, resentment, or frustration, you are not managing yourself.

You are once again allowing external circumstances to control you.

Your thoughts, and the resulting emotions, matter. They are what got you to where you are now.

I’m not saying you have to be “positive” and bubbly about everything in life, or that you have to “fake” your emotions. But you also have to be mindful of your attitude and learn to manage it.

One of the key ways I’m learning to manage my attitude is through daily, conscious gratitude practice.

10. Time Management

If you want to “control” yourself, you must learn to respect and manage your time.

Good time management skills are essential to self-management and involve different tasks such as setting priorities, organizing tasks, or utilizing time efficiently.

Time-management techniques (such as the Pomodoro technique, deep work, time-blocking, the Eisenhower Matrix, or Eat That Frog) are not restricted to professional or school work. They can (and should) be applied to your own life goals as well!

I use these techniques daily in every aspect of my life, especially when I don’t feel like doing things (like self-care, writing/journaling, cooking healthy meals, or doing the dishes).

Read also: How Do You Make Yourself Do the Things You Don’t Want to Do but Know You Should?

11. Emotional intelligence and Self-Regulation

Self-management does not mean that you don’t have feelings and never feel sad, lazy, or unmotivated.

Self-management is about understanding and expressing your emotions in a constructive way rather than allowing yourself to feel crushed or pushed around by whatever it is you’re feeling or thinking at this moment.

It involves recognizing triggers and causes for your emotions and employing (healthy) coping strategies to regulate their intensity. And that’s a skill you can (and should) develop!

Practices such as CBT, breathing, meditation, journaling, mindfulness, and (I cannot stress this enough) sticking to a morning routine have helped me develop greater emotional resilience and self-control.

Of course, there are other self-management skills that are important to learn if you want to radically transform your life (like goal setting, resilience, visualization, or the ability to redirect your thoughts). But the ones mentioned here are the skills that have had the most impact on my life in the last few years.

They are the pillars of self-management, the founding principles that help me navigate life’s complexities with strength and purpose.

What are you struggling with? Do you believe one of these skills could help take you closer to where you want to be?

Let me know in the comments 😊

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About Steph

I am a personal growth/self-management enthusiast. I was able to completely transform my life using everything I share here. I hope this blog helps you transform yours as well.
View all posts by Steph →

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