How to be in charge
of your life and career
A journey towards personal empowerment and control over your life and work
By Angela Civitella
Previously published June 17, 2020
Strike out into new territory with confidence and skill
Do you ever feel that you have no control over your life and work? Perhaps you feel dominated by your colleagues or overwhelmed by the demands of your job. Or is your time outside the workplace spent tending to other people’s needs at the expense of your own?
This sense of powerlessness can be immensely frustrating. But, no matter what personal challenges you face, you can always make choices that give you back control. Understanding this is the essence of self-empowerment.
… no matter what personal challenges you face, you can always make choices that give you back control.
In this article, we examine personal empowerment in more detail and explore the tools and techniques that you can use to achieve it.
What Is personal empowerment?
Personal empowerment is about taking control of your own life and making positive decisions based on what you want.
It’s closely linked to attributes like self-esteem, but true empowerment comes when you convert intention into action.
Personal empowerment means giving yourself permission to succeed. But it doesn’t mean “going it alone”. Chances are, you’ll need the input, support and guidance of others to achieve your objectives.
And, in many cases, you’ll need their permission, too, in the form of trust, resources, time, or autonomy, for example.
‘Personal empowerment means giving yourself permission to succeed.’
Bear in mind that “empowerment” is not the same as “entitlement”. People who feel entitled tend to believe that benefits and privileges should come to them automatically, while empowered people achieve success through hard work, reflection and cooperation.
What does personal empowerment feel like?
We all experience self-empowerment in different ways, depending on our personalities and circumstances. Let’s look at an example:
Two employees have worked in a store as sales clerks. They’ve worked there for several years but neither has sought a promotion, even though they both have the skills and knowledge to move up the ranks.
Do they feel empowered?
In one’s case, the answer is actually “yes”. They like their job as it is. They’ve been offered a more senior role, but this employee made a conscious decision to turn it down because she didn’t want the extra responsibility. However, she feels confident enough to apply again later if things change.
Employee number 2, on the other hand, is frustrated. He wants the salary and job satisfaction that come with promotion, but he’s convinced that he would be rejected if he applied for a management position.
‘We all experience self-empowerment in different ways, depending on our personalities and our circumstances.’
Number 2 feels powerless to change his situation, so he doesn’t try. It’s a vicious circle: the lack of an opportunity to prove himself has reduced his motivation and sense of empowerment.
As a result, his performance suffers, and he’s overlooked by the people who could give him the promotion that he wants.
How to achieve self-empowerment
It can be difficult to see the way out of a situation like No 2. You desperately want to feel stronger, and to make a bigger impact, but how do you do it?
Consider this four-step process for self-empowerment:
1. Know yourself
When you feel that you lack power, your confidence and self-esteem can take a knock, too. Developing your self-awareness depends on the extent to which you believe that you are the master of your own destiny, or that your outcomes are determined by external forces, people or events.
Understanding this distinction can enable you to take responsibility for your own empowerment, and to adopt a winning mindset. Listing all of the things that you’re good at – and that you could be great at – can be hugely empowering in itself. Building on those strengths, and knowing how to deal with your limitations, can give you an even bigger boost.
Understanding yourself better is a core aspect of emotional intelligence, and a qualified counsellor or coach can help you to identify these areas.
‘Listing all of the things that you’re good at – and that you could be great at – can be hugely empowering in itself.’
Ask yourself whether you really do lack power in these situations.
Focus on the areas that mean the most to you, and which correspond with your personal values, or ask for a change in your work schedule.
3. Develop your competencies
To feel empowered, you may depend on another person – often your boss – to confer power upon you. But it’s no use sitting back and waiting to be promoted, or to be put in charge of an exciting new project. You need to earn that power. To do this, you may need to learn new skills, or to refresh your existing ones.
Revisit your goals and think about the skills or knowledge that you need. These could be personal qualities, such as tact or initiative; better known as “soft-skills”.
‘… it’s no use sitting back and waiting to be promoted, or to be put in charge of an exciting new project. You need to earn that power.’
Persistence and resilience
Keeping a record of your progress enables you to see how far you’ve come – and to remember where you went wrong!
Enables you to see the consequences of negative thought patterns, and to become more optimistic.
Take a walk. Go for a bike ride. Work out at the gym. When your body feels good, you feel good. And when you feel good, you’ll feel more powerful.
Find an inspirational role model
Learn how this person overcame his or her own challenges – if they did it, so can you.
If you need an instant boost, talk to a supportive friend or colleague and let them tell you how great you are!
‘(Personal empowerment) enables you to make positive decisions, and to take action that will bring you closer to achieving your goals and ambitions.’
Personal empowerment is the sense that you are in control of your life. It enables you to make positive decisions, and to take action that will bring you closer to achieving your goals and ambitions.
To become more self-empowered, use this four-step process:
Understand your motivations, and your strengths and weaknesses.
Identify your goals
Identify the aspects of your life that are the most important to you, and where you can create meaningful change.
Develop your competencies
Focus on the skills or qualities that will allow you to reach your goals.
Claim your space
Take your first few steps! Then review and reflect on your achievements so far and adjust your approach if necessary. If it’s appropriate, seek feedback from the people around you to ensure that you stay on track.
Image: Bruce Mars
Angela Civitella, a certified management business coach with more than 20 years of proven ability as a negotiator, strategist, and problem-solver creates sound and solid synergies with those in quest of improving their leadership and team building skills. You can reach Angela at 514 254-2400 • linkedin.com/in/angelacivitella/ • intinde.com • @intinde