The pursuit of self-mastery is a life-long endeavor.
Unfortunately, it’s not something you can be naturally gifted at, or pick up with relative ease. It’s rooted in the conscious application of your knowledge to make better life choices. You can’t “game” any system or resort to hacks that will accelerate the process. In short, it involves a lot of trial and error. Achieving mastery over anything requires consistency. That’s the real secret – if there is one at all.
So how do you actually do it? The answer will vary depending on who you’re asking. Some will undoubtedly point to the spiritual path, while others will offer a more pragmatic approach. Neither is wrong. In fact, they’re both necessary and ultimately lead to the same destination. Self-mastery is about building a sense of inner fortitude that can’t be swayed by negative influences. It’s not a singular quality, but the sum total of your thoughts, beliefs, and actions.
Here’s how you can align your intentions to bring out the best of yourself in every situation:
1. Start Taking Accountability for Your Actions
You can’t deny the influence your actions have on both yourself and others. When you refuse to acknowledge your part in events that don’t turn out as expected, you stagnate. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in your relationships, work-life, or even your hobbies. You’ll never find the solution to your problems if you’re unable to look at yourself from a critical perspective. You can’t shift blame onto others indefinitely and continue to develop as a human being – your personal responsibility is non-negotiable. Accountability starts with your introspection and being completely honest about why you’re in your current situation. If you’re not getting to where you want to be, then ask yourself, ‘when did this slide begin?’ Only you are capable of correcting your course. No one is coming to save you but yourself, and there is no reward for playing the victim.
2. Use Your “Failures” as an Opportunity to Improve
Throughout life, you’re going to experience setbacks. But that doesn’t mean you can’t turn them to your advantage. The defining quality that separates those who succeed and those who fall by the wayside is how they respond. Life is a learning game. You don’t need to be perfect every time you turn your hand to something new. But you do need to approach it with an attitude of perseverance. It takes approximately 10,000 hours to gain mastery over a new skill. That’s a lot of mistakes. But then, even if you need to change directions completely, don’t view those efforts as dead-ends or “failures.” Use your hindsight to make better decisions in the future. “Fail forwards.” Invert your thinking and turn your missteps into an opportunity for growth. Instead of asking yourself, ‘Why me?’ ask yourself, ‘Why now? What is this experience here to teach me?’
3. Move Away from Instant Gratification and Start Playing the Long Game