Redefining Self Management

The term ‘Self-Management’ implies a lot of meaning and at first glance, it seems a fairly simple concept. Yet, it is quite difficult to understand and even harder to practice.

Even the most disciplined of people may find themselves struggling with management of the self. They think, they have everything planned out right, that they are prepared for everything the day has to throw at them, only to later face the disappointment of not completing a task or not living up to someone’s expectations.

You see, the fact is, you can never be prepared for everything. What transpires around you is random. However, what transpires within is under your control.

The most important underlying concept of self-management is understanding what you can control and what you cannot. With this simple revelation, you will be able to channelize your energies in attempting, accomplishing or altering events which can turn the outcome in your favor, thereby increasing the probability of fulfilling your goal.

Let’s take an example.

Kartik is a well accomplished Project Manager. He has all the necessary experience, the requisite understanding of his field and good leadership capabilities. However, he has consistently failed to deliver results in the stipulated time frame.

Was Kartik not working hard enough?

Were his team mates not supportive?

Was the management to blame for not providing resources?

Well, the answer to all the above questions is a resounding “No”.

There can be a multitude of reasons for Kartik failing to complete his projects within time. But the underlying cause to all these reasons can be derived from the fact that he was not able to manage himself.

Let us take another example before I explain what went wrong with Kartik.

Anita is a proficient software engineer. She is the go-to person at office for solutions. She is also a team player. In the past two years, her colleagues were able to bag promotions, get better salary hikes and perks and win opportunities to work abroad on ambitious projects. However, Anita was not able to progress.

Was she a poor contributor?

Was she not punctual or prolific?

Was the management to blame for not identifying her skill set?

Again, the reasons can be numerous and varied. But, the truth remains, that she couldn’t manage herself well.

So, what really is self-Management?

Is it the skill to manage time or manage resources?

Is it the ability to discipline one’s mind and maintain good mental and physical health?

Well, it most certainly is. But, then Kartik and Anita should not have had a difficult time addressing these issues. Anyone can master the principles of time, money and health management. It is difficult but not undoable.

The key is to understand what is within your control and what is not. Self-Management is a process and at every stage one has to question what factors he or she can influence. Once you have clarity, you can act accordingly. The single most important key to mastering self-management is mastering the ability to act. Inaction is a sure cause for failure.

Those factors which can be addressed with the resources – both tangible and intangible – available to you can be accounted for and a proper line of action can be chalked. However, for those factors that are not within your control, adequate mitigative steps for delays, preventive steps for roadblocks and alternative steps for dead ends need to be planned.

We can use a flow chart to demonstrate the process.

Thus, in the case of Kartik, it was not his team mates who weren’t supportive. It was Kartik who failed to identify their unsupportive nature, replace or train them to achieve desired outcomes. It was not the management who didn’t provide adequate resources, but rather Kartik’s failure to raise necessary alarms and red flags or device alternative strategies to overcome these obstacles.

Similarly, with Anita, it wasn’t her lack of contribution or the managements fault to recognize her talents that got her rejected, but her lack of presentation to get noticed for what she is. It wasn’t her unpunctuality or non-reciprocity, but her inability to identify her flaws and convert them into strengths.

To sum it all up, Self-management is a practice. It is the ability to sort internal and external factors, devise steps for mitigation or prevention or develop alternative steps to favor the outcome in your direction. Finally, it is the ability to act or the inability to not act.


  1. Respected sir,
    This post is really helpful in managing day to day activities and in professional and personal life.
    Please keep guiding us.


  2. Great insight on Self Management. Its one of the most important skills one should achieve.
    This blog definitely helped me to manage my work and personal stress. Great Read !

    Liked by 1 person

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