Five Significant Steps for Reclaiming Your Life | The BridgeMaker

Five Significant Steps for Reclaiming Your Life

By on Mar 05, 2009


Prepare your mind to receive the best that life has to offer. – Ernest Holmes

At times, our life can feel like it is spinning out of control. We feel completely powerless and overwhelmed by the many factors and circumstances that dictate and shape how we live. During moments like these, it may be easier to give up and accept these conditions, or we can choose to surrender and keep moving forward.

The good news is the act of surrendering provides us with the ability to reclaim what belongs to each one of us. By surrendering, we gain the power to drive our lives in any direction we choose. It begins with making the decision to take the first step.

  • Step 1: Be Selfish
  • Step 2: Say No
  • Step 3: Step Away
  • Step 4: No More Excuses
  • Step 5: Look Forward, Not Back

Step 1: Be Selfish

Contrary to popular belief, it’s OK to be selfish as long as you do it in moderation. The first thing to remember is the only way you can be a positive influence in the lives of others is if you first become a positive influence in your own life.

By becoming more selfish, you force yourself to consider what will make you a better person. This will usually have a positive effect on the people who matter the most.

There are many productive ways to practice being selfish. The first, and most important way, is to begin taking care of you. Watch what you eat and try to exercise when you can. Get more sleep than just enough and nourish your soul with things that fill you up.

Be selfish. Do things that will lead to feeling better about yourself and your life. Purposeful selfishness will give you the confidence and momentum necessary to begin reclaiming your life.

Step 2: Say No

Most people who find themselves in a position where they have lost control of their life have done so willingly because they haven’t learned the art of saying “No.” Decide it’s not possible to make everyone happy, and start considering the ramifications of saying “Yes” to everyone.

Once you learn how to tell people “No,” you will find you have more time to put back in your life. You will also experience less anxiety over the need to live up to the expectations you allow others to place on you.

When you try to be all things to all people you may become nothing for yourself. Leading a life of happiness is about making choices and setting boundaries. You do have the ability to control whether or not you make time for yourself.

The habit of saying “Yes” all of the time usually stems from the fact you may feel uncomfortable with saying “No” and you may be unable to define clear boundaries for yourself.

In other words, the need to please others is greater than the need to take care of yourself. The truth is you will never truly please others because you will never be able to define, or achieve, what it is they want you to do.

Begin today by setting healthy and realistic boundaries for yourself. For example, if a co-worker or supervisor asks you to start a new project before finishing your current assignment, make it known you want to concentrate on what you have on your plate right now, before going on to the next task.

At home, if your family asks you to do something that competes with the time you have carved out for something else – something you really want to do, understand it’s OK to say, “I’m not available right now, but will have some time later today or tomorrow.”

This is setting a healthy and honest boundary for you. Believe it or not, you may gain more respect by setting these boundaries. It sends a clear message that you do have self-worth and confidence. It states “I’m important, too.”

You do indeed control the pace and quality of your life. When you need to take care of yourself, you have the right and responsibility to say “No” and begin to reclaim those parts of your life which are special for you.

Step 3: Step Away

The third significant step for reclaiming your life is to step away and really look at your life for what it is. Take a day, or even a weekend if possible, and step away from the day-to-day routine.

By giving yourself the opportunity to take a step back, you will have the time and space to look at things from a different perspective. As a result, you will have a better chance to see the obstacles, and the things that need to be addressed, which will help with reclaiming your life.

Coping with the fast pace and complexity of life may find us straining to find the oomph to make it through each day. Illness or family problems may cause additional stress. We may feel a creeping sense of weariness, a sense that life is just too hard and not much fun. Even though we desire it, we’re not sure our lives fit into a meaningful pattern.

If you are contemplating the meaning or purpose of your life, take time to step away and complete an inventory of your life. Carefully consider and answer the following statements (do you agree or disagree?). These statement are intended to evaluate your progress and inspire further progress in the realization of your life purpose and to help you reclaim what belongs to you.

  • I often try to ignore the unresolved issues in my life.
  • I take seriously the dreams and passions for my life.
  • The world doesn’t offer me much hope for a better life.
  • I only occasionally take time to truly let loose and play.
  • I frequently see the silver lining in the setbacks in my life.
  • Most of my energy goes into making it through each day.
  • I find it easy to bask in the magic of the present moment.
  • I experience myself as connected to the ebb and flow of life.
  • My talents are essential for helping me get what I want in life.
  • I’m not inclined to make major changes in the direction of my life.
  • When conflicts arise, I can usually see from the other’s perspective.
  • I sometimes get an inner sense I’m supposed to meet certain people.
  • I frequently feel the need to protect myself from the demands of the world.
  • I have some regular activities which further my growth in body, mind and spirit.

For the statements that are working for you, make certain you continue to make these a priority in your life. For the statements that are not working, consider what resources (time, money, and other people) you need in order to turn these around. Focus on one at a time.

Just do what you can, when you can; but begin by taking action today. Once you take action, a newfound sense of self-confidence will develop giving you the ability to devote more energy to changing and reclaiming what’s important to you. Don’t delay. Begin today, right now.

Step 4: No More Excuses

If you find yourself in a position where you have lost focus with your life then it’s easy to start making excuses as to why or how the disconnect happened. It’s also easy to assign blame for how things have turned out in your life. Resolve not to make excuses for why things have happened in the manner they have and refuse to pass blame.

It’s not worth wasting energy on things that ultimately don’t matter. Instead use that energy to make things better and to make a difference.

In most circumstances, we are responsible for the state and quality of our lives. We, you and I, are responsible for the choices we make and the resulting consequences. The gift of Free Will can be both a blessing and a curse.

Free Will allows us to live the life of our choosing. We are given the opportunity to select our friends and life-partner; we get to decide what we want to do and where we want to do it. Free Will is a blank check on which we are allowed to write-in any amount we would like.

Free Will also makes us accountable and responsible. Because we are given the autonomy to make whatever choices we see fit, the outcome of these choices belongs to us, too.

When our relationships fail or when our careers get off track, we need to take a hard look at what we did to contribute to these circumstances. Typically when things go bad, there’s always “the rest of the story.” Meaning, it’s not just because our boss is overly demanding, the rest of story as to why our career is off track is because of an action we did, or didn’t, do.

Making the decision to move forward and to take full responsibility for your actions does free you and inspire you to live with passion and confidence. It’s easy to say that something or someone is keeping you from doing whatever it is you want to do; but it takes courage to be the owner of your life.

Step 5: Look Forward, Not Back

When things are at their worst, it’s easy to look back to try to figure out exactly where things went wrong and then analyze the different ways we could have changed the circumstances. Stop.

By looking in the past, we’re not focusing on the future, on the here and now, and this is an important step when it comes to reclaiming our life. We can’t change the past, but we can claim this moment and the next one. Our life has been given to us as a gift and we are responsible for its care.

My sights are set straight ahead and my head is looking forward to what is next. I have already received so many wonderful things in my life, but I know more gifts are waiting as I continue making significant steps to reclaiming a life that is meant just for me.

The BridgeMaker Founder Alex Blackwell is the author of Letting Go: 25 True Stories of Peace, Hope and Surrender. Join the community to connect, share and inspire: Twitter | Facebook | More Posts

  • Acknowledging your reality is the first step! Good for you – Alex

  • Saying no is the hardest part for me. Loved your article. Thanks so much. I have a 2.5 and 4.5 at home. I need some of me back.

  • Joie

    Outstanding! From the first quote by Ernest Holmes.