Structure for Success: Reclaiming Your Power One Step at a Time

We hear about “Personal Empowerment” everywhere these days. Self-help books. Internet discussion boards. Day-time talk shows. Lunch conversations. We hear about it so much, it’s lost its zing. But don’t let the popularity of the term blind us to the transformative power of the concept. At its core, Personal Empowerment means living life to your fullest capacity. It means using your voice, your actions and your power to reach your full potential. It means taking back the power you unknowingly–or knowingly—give away to others.

We give away our power every day without thinking. To our kids. To our spouses. To our parents. To appetite. To fear. When you reclaim your power,you increase your self-confidence and your self-respect. You call the shots. You get back on track. Reclaiming your personal power is a sure-fire way to set yourself up for success. An entire new world opens at your feet.

The first step to empowerment is self-awareness. Know thyself, said the ancient Greeks, and that’s a good place to start. Know your personal needs, beliefs and values. Look deep within yourself. Make detailed lists and be honest. Do you like to socialize, or be by yourself? Is owning your own home important, or do you want to hit the road at a moment’s notice? Do you want to pay it forward? Do not accept surface answers – truly assess what you need, believe and value. If you’re not living your beliefs and values, how can you do so? With a list like this, you lay the foundation for reclaiming your power.

The next step is to reprogram your inner dialogue. Let’s face it, that voice in our head is our harshest critic. We need to redirect the way we speak to ourselves. “You’re short. You’re lazy. You never should have dropped out of college.” Negative self-talk is another way of giving up power. Reprogramming how we think about ourselves can be challenging,but with practice, you can become your biggest fan. Make a list of your strengths and pat yourself on the back. Write down your accomplishments – even if the only one that day was getting out of bed. Save positive emails; watch happy movies; talk with friends; laugh! Attract the positive back into your life and take your power back. Don’t give that power to Negative Nelly! It’s your power! Own it.

Visualization is a great tool. Surround yourself with positive images. A “Rocky” poster. Merida (from “Brave”). A rock climber making her way up a sheer cliff wall. These images will remind you where your power lies. Within. Surround yourself with what reminds you of your needs, values, beliefs, and strengths, and make these positive and attainable. Have fun and be creative. Music can be powerful motivator. “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger,” Kelly Clarkson sings. Lip synch to your favorite songs. Play air guitar. Dance.

Finally, to reclaim your power, you need to own your actions. Set goals that fulfill your needs, beliefs and values and take daily steps towards those goals. Setting goals can be tricky, though. You don’t want to structure for failure; structure for success. Though you should have big, hit-it-out-of-the-park goals, you should also break them into the smallersteps that will get you there. Attainable goals will help you feel more confident and accomplished. If you want to lose weight, walk for ten minutes at lunch. If you want to write your memoir, do a paragraph at a time. Steps like these become habits before you know it. Ten minutes becomes fifteen minutes becomes an hour. A paragraph becomes a page becomes a chapter. Structure for success.

As you move down your new path to power, you will try new things. Stretch yourself and learn from them. Some will work and you will feel empowered. You get the new job; you paint that painting (or bathroom); you cook that soufflé. Some things will not work out,and that is ok. (The violin – I don’t think so–but maybe for you). Trust yourself! Love yourself! Be your own best friend and be your own hero. Reclaiming your power will not happen overnight; it’s a lifelong journey. But once you start that journey, you’ll wonder what took you so long to get started. But then you’ll say to yourself, that’s just negative self-talk. I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and headed in the right direction.