What is it that seems to stump us when we are asked about “self-mastery” and whether we have achieved it? You likely have no shortage of expectations for yourself. There is no dearth of advice. And we are not lacking in gurus. So what is the obstacle?
So often we think of ‘self-mastery’ as exercising a great deal of ’self-control.’ That might mean managing our emotions or avoiding that chocolate cake calling our name. Some think there’s an element of luck, like hitting the proverbial jackpot. But reaching our fullest potential—the real essence of self-mastery– requires much more than that.
What is self-mastery?
Self-mastery is about knowing yourself and investing time and energy into what contributes to your happiness. Ciara Bochenek, a Corporate Banking Relationship Manager at US Bank and mother of two, noted that “carving space for connectivity, with family, friends, culture, and defining what’s important outside of the day-to-day, even if it’s hard work, helps with feeling overwhelmed or anxious, and juggling so many things.” If self-control is about managing yourself in specific instances, self-master is about the ability to take control of one’s life without being blown off course by those individual daily or momentary challenges.
Self-mastery starts with vision.
This begins with a vision. Where do you want to be in six or 12 months? Perhaps you are determined to run the 2020 Berlin marathon. Fantastic! What’s your motivation? Perhaps you can list off several things, such as: 1. It’s always been your dream; 2. You want to prove to yourself you can work toward a big challenge, push your body to the limit; 3. Maybe you see this as a gateway to better habits. If that is the case, keep going with it.
And then dig deeper. What is your motivation for those motivations? Maybe you would like to be able to play on the floor with your grandchildren. Who doesn’t want to prevent a negative health condition? That, in turn, allows you a better quality of life, which in turn would contribute to your happiness. Perhaps you know it would give you confidence, which would help you at work, which would help you get a promotion, etc.
Create a motivation ‘tree’.
The more you can make a ‘tree’ of motivations the many supportive “branches” (motivators) the more likely you will be able to achieve your goal. (Note that this is not unlike a two-year-old who continue to ask “why” trying to get to the bottom of something.) And, writing your goals down and telling people about them out loud is very powerful. If you want to be successful, you must find a way to hold yourself accountable.
Ciara noted that “coming from the corporate world it’s an elusive goal for me. It’s putting a long-term goal down on paper and checking to see how I’m progressing from the year prior. The perspective that there are incremental changes along the way, that it’s a marathon and not a sprint,” helps to keep focus.
Five tips for self-mastery and golf.
When you’re face with challenges and setbacks, which you inevitably will be, it’s important to be compassionate with yourself. You are learning. You are changing your life. This is no small feat.
In his book Golf is Not a Game of Perfect, Dr. Bob Rotella explains how important it is to let go of the “perfect” game and to aim to have an amazing experience. Here are his tips for golf, but they could apply to anything about which you hoped to achieve self-mastery.
- Create an attitude and a mindset about all aspects of your game.
- On the first tee, expect only 2 things, have fun and focus your mind properly on every shot.
- Learn to love the challenge, even when you hit the ball into the rough, trees or sand. The alternative of anger, fear, whining and cheating do no good.
- Confidence is crucial.
- It is more important to be decided than correct.
What are you working on that you hope to master? How can we help?