What to Do if You Feel Like You’ve Lost Control of Your Life

Life can be awfully challenging. It’s easy to get confused by what you’re doing and unsure of where you’re going, both in your professional and personal life.

Sometimes, your internal GPS can throw you so far off course that you find yourself far from where you need to be to feel comfortable, to feel as if you’re moving forward, to feel as if you’re in control.

If you want to be the captain of your ship, here are some of the most valuable lessons you can learn.



by Greg McKeown

⏱ 14 minutes reading time

🎧 Audio version available

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Map out what you desire in life

If you don’t know where you’re going, you may not end up where you wish to be. Create a map of your dreams, goals, and preferences and how you want to feel in every critical area of your life – from love, friendships, livelihood, finances, health, spirituality, fun, and even leisure. Not only will this give you a goal, but the very Universe itself will bring you people, gifts, and situations that match up with what you’ve specified. Feeling skeptical? Don’t – the power of positive thinking is backed by science.

Listen to and heed your inner voice

Let your personal thoughts and feelings guide you when deciding what to do and where to go. Sympathetic friends, colleagues, mentors, and other people may try to “help” you by making decisions for you. The problem is, by not taking responsibility for yourself, you’re putting yourself in danger of letting others take charge of your life. And there’s always a huge price to pay for giving your life away. It’s not your life any longer; instead, it’s someone else’s projection of what your life should be.

Offer help to others.

Instead of getting too much help, why don’t you try giving it?

Perhaps you had an earthshaking event: your company shut down and left all its employees jobless. You feel like you have lost control of your life, and you are rightfully devastated, but you know you’ll land a new job.

What about the person who works next to you and has never written a resume before? Why not suggest you work together to prepare both resumes? Arrange to do practice interviews for each other. A trial run can help ease nervousness, fine-tune your own skills, and could make you laugh when you need it most. You’ll feel like you accomplished something.

Be more self-aware and present

Most of us only concentrate on the present for about 10% of our lives. The rest of the time, we’re preoccupied with daydreams, circular worries, and questionable thoughts about the future. We’re not really connected with the atmosphere, beauty, and magic of the world around us, making us feel shallow and empty.

Try being present more often throughout the day. Notice the small things: the cool breeze, the warm sunshine, the vibe around you, the beautiful scent of a flower, the movement of your body as you walk or run or dance. When you’re present, you’re taking control of your life . Not only do you experience the richness of life, but you also respond personally to things instead of reacting on autopilot.

Appreciate the adventure that is your life

Fearing what you can’t control will do you no good. Appreciate the wonder of not knowing what might happen next. Okay, you may have lost control of things for a while there. But think of how that experience helped you grow and learn.

Give yourself credit for every step forward. By recognizing your achievements, no matter how small, you’ll regain trust in your ability to control your destiny. You empower yourself to move forward. Events will continue to occur in your life, both good and bad; you cannot control that. But you do have the strength to control how you respond. Even if some moments seem unbeatable, remember: you’ve been here before, and you know you can handle it.

Look at the destructive events as a not so gentle reminder.

It is so simple to take your life and the people you love for granted. When something knocks your feet out from under you, it might just be the reminder you need to appreciate everyone, including yourself.

It is easy to find more crucial things to do than spend time with your loved ones. You’re very busy and don’t have time for walking or sitting together and talking. You have to take the kids somewhere or finish that report.

And what about taking time for yourself; when was the last time you took a few minutes just for you? There’s always tomorrow, right?

When something bad happens, be grateful for the reminder that you can’t count on tomorrow. Find time for the people that matter the most, including yourself, right now!

Respect and accept the strength of forces more significant than yourself.

The most brilliant people in the world with the best resources still could never stop an earthquake. Sometimes, you need to accept that there are tremendous forces outside of your control at play. Accepting that you cannot control everything is an integral part of dealing with difficulties.

Appreciate twists in the adventure.

Fearing what you can’t control will do you no good. Enjoy the adventure of not knowing what might happen next.

Roller coasters, bungee-jumping, sky-diving, and many other man-made attractions exist to give people an adrenaline rush—a feeling that you are out of control and frightened while it is happening. The pay-off comes when it is all over. Your heart is pounding, your palms are damp, and perhaps you are even a little queasy—but you did it!

You can feel those emotions and physical sensations during some bad things.

When the next problem hits, imagine you’re on a roller coaster. Relax into the motion instead of fighting it. Using this method, you’ll get to the point where you can make it through any issue without any problem. It will become an adventure, a game.

By considering your control losing event an adventure, you become a contender instead of a victim. You reconquer control and are better prepared to find ways to get through it.

Consider how losing control helps you grow.

Every experience is a life lesson. You will be wiser, emotionally stronger, and gain knowledge or a skill in an area you knew nothing about before.

You and your family probably used to eat outside in cafes and restaurants all the time. But now, the loss of a job means you can’t afford to do that anymore. Sometimes, you may not sure how you can even afford to make a meal at home! Out of necessity, you get creative. You seek out the most economical recipes, invent a few of your own. In doing so, you discover a passion for cooking.

You probably fantasized about going back to school but had no idea what you would study. Maybe now you know? Some of the most successful entrepreneurs got their status by dealing with a situation they had no control over.

Be proud of yourself.

As you’re taking back control of your life, give yourself credit for every step forward. Always respect your achievements, no matter how small; you regain trust in your ability to fix what you didn’t break. You encourage yourself to take the next step. Besides, the situation is beating you up enough—don’t encourage it!

From time to time, you will feel like you lost control of your life. But we do have the power to control how we respond. While during such an event, it may seem hopeless and unbearable, but you can do it.

But what do you think? Are you retaking control of your life right now? Do you have any personal stories or experiences you could share about losing control of your life?

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