The Secret to Peace, Ease, And Success? A Regular Practice of Self-Management

We all crave a secret to achieving our goals quickly. But what if the true secret to peace, ease, and success isn’t really a secret at all – in fact, it’s freely available to anyone willing to put in the time and work.

 It’s self-management – in simplest terms, taking the quiet time to reflect, mediate, journal, and read. It means taking the time to properly take care of yourself with adequate sleep, diet, and exercise. It means deliberately managing your time and checking in with yourself to track your progress on your personal goals.

 Yes, it takes time. But these are the key ingredients to accessing our full potential and show up as our best selves. 

 Think of it this way; there are essentially two levels of human functioning. We’re all very well familiar with the lower base level – driven by fear, pleasure seeking, and external gratification. This is our “default” system.  This system stays in control unless and until we take over.  Like a dog distracted by a squirrel, we can find ourselves bogged down each day in the pursuit of a thousand stray thoughts and distractions (a challenge turbo-charged with the internet.)  This base level is responsible for the mental chatter and anxiety that cause you to have a sleepless night before your big presentation when that’s the opposite of what you need.  Why?  Because the base level is solely focused on warning us about danger or guiding us to immediate gratification.  

 There is a better way.  There’s a higher plateau that we hopefully all have also seen a glimpse of – a place of peace, joy, self-actualization. This higher level will quiet your mind and allow you to access your best self – your peace, ease, joy, and calm self.  Think of the difference between feeling tight and tentative when pitching your big idea versus feeling calm and comfortable and the confidence this brings.  This higher level of function requires intention and effort to access consistently, but the potential for upside is infinite. 

 This shift requires discipline, a process you can rely on, and intentionality – the result is spending your precious little time on the things that benefit you most, unlocking your full potential, and finding peace, ease, and joy in your work.  

 However, many people have misconceptions about self-management that prevent them from reaping the benefits. 

 One of the biggest misconceptions is that it’s some self-indulgent or lazy to invest considerable amounts of time into their own goals. They can’t seem to draw a straight line from the effort they’re putting in and where they want to go; they can’t see any indication of a clear pay-off from the time they were be putting in. But as the old maxim goes, “what gets measured gets done.” And if you aren’t stopping to quietly reflect and take the measure of how you are doing with your most important goals, you can quickly find yourself at the mercy of the priorities that others will be all too happy to place on your time. Think about the time spent clearing out your email inbox, chasing that momentary satisfaction, only to have new emails flooding in.  Can you tie that time back to any significant achievement in your life?  

The benefits of self-management extend beyond professional life and into personal life. Practicing self-management consistently and deeply over time leads to accessing one’s best self, which translates into more patience, ease, energy, peace, joy, clarity, creativity, understanding, and compassion. A leader who embodies these qualities can impact not only their work team or organization but also their family and personal relationships positively. Think of how powerful you’d be if you developed a way to embody these things most of the time.

Here are some ways you can get started on upping your own self-management game. Pick one or two that you aren’t doing now.  Give it 30 days as a trial run and see how you feel.

  1. Maniacal time management – learn to obsess over managing what you are doing and when.  Spend your time with intention. 

  2. Mediation – mediation is becoming common. If the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the next best time is now. If you don’t do it, start now.  Even 10 minutes will make a big difference.  

  3. Journaling – write down our thoughts and ask yourself questions.  Probe your own thinking.  Learn about yourself.  We know surprisingly little about ourselves.  

  4. Score yourself – keep a daily log of the most important aspects of your life: your key relationships, sleep, exercise, your mindset, etc.  Maybe you want to put your phone down while you are with family? Are you doing it?  Ask yourself daily. I have a Google form texted to me each morning with the questions that I want to be sure stay top of mind for me.  I answer them honestly and review the log from time to time to see patterns.  

  5. Get Your Sleep – make sure you are getting the sleep you need.  Track it in your journal daily.  Notice patterns, adjust your schedule unit you get the sleep you need.

  6. Exercise – seems obvious, but we all fall off from time to time.  So many people tell me how stressed out they are, and they don’t make time for exercise.  It’s a downward spiral. But you can reverse this and create an upward spiral with a little self-management.  

  7. Pay attention to you – get to know yourself better.  Take advantage of quite time to reflect on what you are feeling and thinking.  What is bothering you, what is behind it? Dig deeper and deeper. Rarely is the first thing you find the true root of the matter.  Once you do get to the root of your thoughts, feelings, and reactions you will feel tremendous relief, freedom, and clarity.

  8. De-bug flawed mental models – practice finding new mental narratives or talk tracks that will serve you better.  De-bug existing mental models that aren’t working for you.  For example – you may fear public speaking. You get nervous and think people can see that you are nervous, and how you are even more nervous!  De-bug this thinking.  Turn the narrative in your head to something that works better for you such as – The audience is excited to hear from me.  They respect me and what I’m saying.  They know how nervous they would be in my shoes.  They want to see that I care and that I’m a little nervous.          

 Think of the many successful people who have sworn by the importance of maintaining mastery over their thoughts and thinking patterns in order to achieve great things. Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, one of the world’s largest hedge funds, has credited mindfulness and meditation with helping him manage stress and make better business decisions. Kobe Bryant, the late NBA player, was known to use mindfulness to improve his game. He often meditated before games and practiced mindfulness exercises to help him stay present and fo

To stay motivated and committed to a regular practice of self-management, individuals should start slow, and maintain a positive attitude. Stay with it even when you don’t see immediate results, strive to enjoy it, and make it a habit. In some cases, you may even want to enlist the services of a coach who can help you to create a plan and stay on track. 

 I can’t stress enough how much you can achieve by just starting small – whether it’s setting aside time on your calendar for meditation or making your sleep routine a priority. 

 This is all well and good on an individual level, but how can organizations help to promote cultures of self-management?

  1. Organizations and businesses can begin to do their part by respecting employees’ calendars and time, discouraging early or late meetings, and allowing individuals to block their time off. 

  2. Leaders can set an example by talking about their mindfulness goals, challenges, and success stories.

  3. Organizations can also customize their training and development programs to help specific leaders with their growth needs and deploy self-management tools as part of this program.

 Self-management is the key to accessing our higher level – reaching our full potential, achieving peace and ease, and finding success in both personal and professional life. By incorporating self-management practices into our daily routines, you can unlock your best self and achieve your goals – with far less pain and suffering in the process.  When you practice self-management well you are running your own game.  You are figuring out what works for you and figuring out how to do more of it.