Self Management – key to a fulfilling and productive life

Self management is a byword in some circles. But what really is meant by managing yourself? Can we all do it? Can we all manage ourselves? What does it involve? Is it time consuming? Is it worth the effort? Where can we start? How will we know if it is successful?

Questions, more questions . . .

Self management can conjure up (certainly for us older types) an image of the 'old style' manager. The boss. Master of all (s)he surveys. Taking charge. Directing proceedings. Passing out the orders, expecting them to be followed. Expecting results. Expecting respect. Expecting loyalty. Expecting obedience.

Some of these traits still hold true for the successful manager today. (Self management is now a popular subject.) But some are far too authoritarian. In any concern or operation someone needs to make decisions and those decisions need to be carried out. But, and rightly so, we all have to earn respect, not just have it through dint of position or previous accomplishment.

It is, or should be, more a case of who we are, what we as individuals represent, how we are, what we stand for, how we interact with others and situations. And most of us are only obedient to those things that make sense to us. We follow other things and people (trying to do the right thing), but we obey that which (or someone who) really means something to us.

So where does self management fit in?

We have a life. We are in charge of it, for no one else is, are they? We manage our life as best we can. We do this, think that. We act here. We give here, and take there. We take there and give here. Our life goes on. But who is at the helm? Who manages our life - who we are, what we represent, how we are, how we life, how we interact? Where does self management play a part in our lives?

We need to take responsibility for our lives and start managing it. Of course, many things are beyond our control and that is fine. We cannot manage everything anyway. But those things within our sphere of influence, within our ability to guide, to conduct, to direct, to experience, to manage, those things we need to think about. And, not only think, but assess and act. And that includes the life we have. That is what is involved in order to manage 'yourself'.

What is there to it - to manage yourself?

Let us use an analogy to help here. We see our manager at work or the manager of a sports team. We see what they do from the outside, from afar. But it would be useful to examine in more detail their responsibilities, and what they are trying to achieve.

The manager of our favorite team - what do they have to do?

What tasks do they perform? (may I suggest that you try to think how they might relate to self management as you read them.) They would include the following

  • They direct events
  • They organize their players and their resources
  • They look at strategy, the challenges (the opposition), the resources available to them (their players), and decide how to tackle the next game
  • They decide which resources are required. How the game should be played. Whether their team should go all out for victory, or be happy to accept a draw (a balance) if that occurs
  • They change resources if circumstances change or require it
  • They change strategy if the situation demands it
  • They support their resources after the game. Praise the good, look at the 'not-so-good' with a view to improving that for the next game and future
  • They support their players emotionally as well as manage them. After all they are trying to get the best out of their players
  • They look ahead to the next challenge (next game) and assess and plan
  • If some resources or areas are deficient they try to improve them and/or look for others to replace or enhance them
  • They have to work within their budget and resources. But can be flexible within that
  • They are the voice piece for their club
  • They represent their club. People look at them and how they are and act and think ‘that is what their club is like’ – good and bad
  • They aim to maximize their performances and accomplishments
  • They get well rewarded for (excellent) effort
  • They get criticized for poor effort or underachievement (and poor team performances)
  • They have to balance resources versus goals and dreams
  • They may find that their method of management is not working, so they may have to change (or they may be replaced by another manager who adopts a method of management more suited to the team and resources available and/or the owners of the club
  • And, as the saying goes, anything else appropriate to their position

So, what has this to do with (our) self management?

'Have you not gone off the subject?' you may be thinking. (Thank you for bearing with me so far.) My aim in illustrating the duties and responsibilities of a sports team manager is to suggest that, if we look at them more closely, our self management has many parallels to what this (hypothetical) manager has to do. Many of the things we have to do in life can be compared with the duties and responsibilities of the sports manager.

'But', you say, 'my life is not a job'

And you would be right. This is an essential difference (and there are probably many others) between self-management and what I have portrayed above. While I feel that we would do well to mimic the sports team manager in the way we manage our life, we should remember our life is not our job. Our self management is not employment for us. We don't get paid for it? Or do we? We get paid in kind, don't we? By putting in the effort our life is more rewarding, isn't it? But, yes our life is not a manager post and we need to treat it differently - but take it just as seriously, and be committed, perhaps more committed to the end result - us.

We manage our life and reap the benefits for so doing. The rewards come in different shapes and sizes, but we prosper if we look after ourselves and manage our life in a good and wholesome way.So it is really worthwhile managing our life?

What should or can we do?

Are there any specific areas we could tackle, could manage?

  • use of talents and strengths
  • behave well
  • help others when we can
  • be loyal
  • be honest
  • treat others as we would like them to treat us
  • be our own spokes-person – neither too forward nor too shy about what we are doing, what we want to do, how things might be done better …
  • tackling life with commitment, dedication and discipline
  • treat others with respect, but treat ourselves with respect also
  • see ourselves in a good light and strive to better ourselves in all we do
  • see life in a good light and contribute to life and the greater good
  • share and assist others – don’t just take, give
  • finding that balance in life that we may move forward with confidence , motivation and achieve the successes that we deserve
  • giving ourselves the time and space in life to grow and develop, to think and ponder, to look at life and assess what we should be doing, where we best be able to make a contribution
  • loving ourselves, being happy being ourselves, while striving to be better and contribute more boosting our esteem and confidence at the same time
  • being constructive, effective and productive in life and our lives
  • setting goals so that we may work towards achieving
  • being sensible about our growth and self development
  • being honest with ourselves and our view of the world
  • putting the different elements of the ‘sports manager’ role into practice in our life
  • making managing yourself a priority in your life

To summarize

Self management is another element, another piece in life's big puzzle. To manage ourselves properly gives us a head start in tackling 21 Century life. To get going with this management we just need to start. Then each and every day look out for ourselves a little more. And self-management will soon become a key element in our arsenal. It will become a key factor in your enjoying a satisfying and productive life at home (and with yourself) and abroad (and in the world around you).

Utilize self management in your life. Give it a good shot.