3 Easy Ways to Feel More Powerful at Work/Life

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Power is all about control. Control over your career, control over your finances, control over your relationships, control over your lifestyle. Think about it. Doesn’t the lack of control make you feel powerless? Go ahead. Take a minute to mull it over. We’ll wait. Done? Okay, then. Let’s move on. So, if power is about control, then you have to take control in order to feel more powerful at work and home. Is it that simple? Why, yes, darling, it is. Take control of your career and life, and you’ll feel more powerful at work and home.

Take control of your life in three easy ways:

1. Learn to prioritize 

A ubiquitous skill that everyone and their mothers list on their resumes is “ability to prioritize.” Sound familiar? Yeah, it should. You, too, probably have this skill on your resume. Don’t feel bad. We all list that skill on our resumes. Now, it’s time to actually utilize that skill.

Learning to prioritize is a matter of deciding the importance and/or urgency of tasks or events that come up at work or at home. Ask yourself two simple questions: “Is it important?” and “Is it urgent?”

PRIORITY FIRST SECOND THIRD NONE
RANK Important and urgent Not important but urgent Important but not urgent Not important and not urgent
ACTION Complete now Complete now Complete later Postpone, Delegate, or Eliminate

 

Your first priority should be to handle any all urgent and important tasks or events that have direct and immediate impacts on your work or life. Everything else is either secondary or non-essential. By prioritizing, you’re taking control by applying your time and energy effectively.

2. Say no

Priority also requires learning to say no. As women, we tend to be people-pleasers, and consequently, we have a harder time of saying no. Maybe you’re new at the office, and you’re determined to make a good impression so you keep saying yes yes yes to every task.  Or maybe you have that one friend who’s always asking for favors, and you can’t bring yourself to say no because well, what are friends for, right?

Whatever it is, it’s time to stop that doormat behavior, and it’s time to start saying no. Be ruthless with your time and energy. Spend your time and energy on tasks, events, and people that make you happier, healthier, and more productive. If it doesn’t impact your happiness, health, or productivity, then it doesn’t have priority in your life, and you’re not obligated to say yes.

Saying no doesn’t automatically make you a bitch. Saying no just means you have other priorities. The key to saying no is to do it politely yet firmly.  Next time Tom asks you to help him on one of his projects, simply reply: “I’d love to help, Tom, but unfortunately, I need to work on XYZ, and I cannot take on other projects right now.” Or next time Jessica asks you for a tiny little favor…you know, if you can please her plan out her dinner party, just say: “Sorry, Jess. I don’t have time. My schedule’s full right now.”

3. Adapt

To gain better control of your work/life, you also need to adapt. Things don’t always go according to plans. Even the best-laid plans can fall apart, and you need to adapt when this happens. Maybe your research project isn’t going well, and now, it looks like you might not meet your deadline after all. Or maybe you have to change your vacation plans because now, there’s a family emergency, but wait, what about your non-refundable plane tickets and cancellation fees for hotel reservations?

Even the best Type A planner can't anticipate every possible foreseeable outcome. When plans veer off-course, you have to be resourceful and creative and find a solution for course-correction. Otherwise, you’ll be overwhelmed when a crisis hits, and you'll lose control and feel powerless. Make plans, but keep an open mind, and be receptive to change. In other words: learn to roll with the punches.

Ultimately, the way to feel more powerful at your work/life is to take control. It may all sound very simple, but really, how many of us actually apply these principles to our lives on a daily basis? The next time you’re feeling less than powerful about your life, just ask: am I controlling my own life, or am I letting other factors control my life? If it’s the latter, then it’s time to take back control. After all, it’s your life. Own it.