Studies have shown direct correlations between one’s ability to manage their own emotions, behaviors, and priorities—a concept linked closely with emotional intelligence—and that person’s likelihood of success. This is evidenced by research from the Niagara Institute, which shows that 75% of managers analyze emotional intelligence and self-management skills to determine if an employee is ready for a promotion or raise. By 2030, this research says the demand for these skill sets will grow by another 26%.
Having good self-management skills is important from all angles. However, it doesn’t only impact one’s success in the workplace. It also affects interpersonal relationships with others and overall mental health. Without good tools for self-management and problem-solving, daily stressors and setbacks can make advancing forward, both personally and professionally, seem impossible.
Fortunately, by learning what the seven self-management skills are and how to develop them, you can begin to enact daily changes that will catapult your success.
- Setting challenging goals increases job satisfaction by 34%.
- Being self-aware means accepting fallibility and embracing weaknesses.
- Failure to plan is one reason 70% of people who set goals fail to achieve them.
- Integrating mindfulness and time management can reduce stress and boost productivity.
What Does It Mean to Have Good Self-Management?
Having good self-management means being able to manage one’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors toward others productively and with self-awareness. When someone has good self-management skills, they are better able to build professional relationships, cope with daily stressors, and achieve personal success.
What Are the 7 Self-Management Skills?
“There is an old-fashioned word for the body of skills that emotional intelligence represents: character.”Daniel Goleman
Skill #1: Stress Management
Summary: Recent studies show that 64% of employees who enjoy their jobs still report feeling frequently stressed at work. This is concerning because stress can lead to work burnout, which already affects 77% of those surveyed. By distinguishing priority from non-priority tasks and delegating your time accordingly, you can maintain stress so that it doesn’t overwhelm you.
What it looks like: A person with good stress management skills approaches their work methodically. They employ effective delegation and are organized in their processes. When things go awry, they focus on solutions rather than ruminating on the problem. This helps them manage stressful situations calmly and effectively.
Skill #2: Time Management
Summary: Having good time management skills is key for thwarting distractions, and yet 82% of people surveyed don’t have a system in place. Without good time management practices, staying on task can be difficult, and you may feel like you can never finish what you started.
What it looks like: Someone with good time management can effectively plan and prioritize their day. They are able to identify all priorities, personal and professional, and segment their day accordingly to meet them. Using lists, planners, and task management tools, they remain on-task and engaged throughout the day.
Skill #3: Self-Motivation
Summary: How well someone initiates and sustains their behaviors to achieve a desired outcome without being incentivized reflects their self-motivation. As Dr. Kou Murayama says, “If you are motivated, you learn better and remember more of what you learned.” Without it, however, a person may feel unfocused or even think about quitting, as 81% of employees reportedly do.
What it looks like: A person with self-motivation skills is responsible and proactive about their responsibilities. They wake up early, make lists, and tackle their most challenging tasks first. The fear of failure doesn’t deter them; instead, they are motivated by their challenges. To learn how to motivate yourself, examine your intrinsic motivators. What are you passionate about? What gets you excited? Keep your answers in mind as you consider jobs and goals going forward.
Skill #4: Decision-Making
Summary: Good decision-making skills are necessary for all areas of success, yet only 20% of those surveyed feel their organizations exercise this skill well. Having good decision-making skills demonstrates good judgment, discernment, and critical thinking, all of which impact the outcomes of your efforts.
What it looks like: A person with good decision-making skills remains grounded in truth and arrives at decisions carefully and analytically. They lean on data and separate themselves from overwhelming emotions so they can see options for what they are. In an article for Harvard Business Review, Peter Drucker explains: “They try to find the constants in a situation, to think through what is strategic and generic rather than to ‘solve problems’ . . . they want impact rather than technique. And they want to be sound rather than clever.”
Skill #5: Adaptability
Summary: Tony Robbins once said, “Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.” Studies support this idea, showing that those with greater levels of workplace adaptability and emotional flexibility have overall better mental health, work satisfaction, and less stress.
What it looks like: Adaptability is all about being able to pivot when needed. A person who maintains flexibility and adaptability can better weather unforeseen occurrences. They are resilient and empowered to take things head-on without getting discouraged or demotivated.
Skill #6: Goal Setting, Alignment, and Tracking
Summary: When you envision a desired outcome, goals are the small steps that help get you there. As Neuroscience expert Andrew Huberman explains, “Any big goal, of course, is broken up into a series of smaller goals, but the whole thing starts with thinking about the end in mind.” Yet, goal-setting isn’t just about being happy with your job. It’s about prioritizing the things in life that are most important to you.
What it looks like: Research by Leadership IQ reveals that those who set challenging goals for themselves have a 34% higher likelihood of job satisfaction. This is because these people can see the bigger picture in their personal and professional lives. They can see the desired outcomes ahead and the steps required to get there. They avoid anything that pulls them off-track from their vision and align with others to reach common objectives.
Skill #7: Personal Development
Summary: In Daring Greatly, author Brené Brown shares, “Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in.” To improve your self-management, you must first accept your fallibility. Personal development is about recognizing your weaknesses and tackling them head-on.
What it looks like: Those with this self-management skill have the emotional maturity to learn, lead, and grow others. They invest in courses and opportunities for additional learning, network with mentors, accept that mistakes happen and absorb criticism effectively.
5 Ways to Strengthen Your Self-Management Skills
“There is no such thing as time management; there is only self-management.”Rory Vaden
It’s never too late to begin strengthening your skills of self-management. As The School of Greatness author Lewis Howes writes, “Greatness is the result of visionaries who persevere, focus, believe, and prepare. It is a habit, not a birthright.” Only those who work for it achieve optimal success in life.
1. Increase Emotional Intelligence
- Practice recognizing and naming your emotions.
- Ask others for feedback on your levels of empathy and self-perception.
- Expose yourself to the lives and stories of others; this builds empathy.
2. Identify Limiting Beliefs
Our own limiting beliefs are often the greatest thing holding us back from success. Fortunately, you can begin countering them with several careful techniques:
- On paper, be honest and write down every belief you hold about yourself.
- Then, examine the list and pick out the beliefs holding you back.
- Change any negative “I am” statements (such as “I am inadequate”) to “I feel” statements (“I feel inadequate”). This positions the statement from a perceived fact to just an emotion.
- Now, examine the emotions behind the negative “I feel” statements and accept them. Sit in that space, breathe through the feeling, and release it.
3. Practice Stress Management
Studies have linked stress with lower levels of productivity. Employing methods of stress management, such as exercise, will boost success in all areas. Here are some simple methods to try:
- Whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, go for a walk.
- Integrate regular physical practice, such as yoga, deep breathing, or weight training.
- Work to overcome perfectionism; strive for growth and excellence instead.
4. Integrate Mindfulness
Research has shown that incorporating mindfulness practice into your day can lower anxiety, depression, blood pressure, and even improve sleep. These are some ways you can become more mindful:
- Develop a routine of using a mindfulness app, like Calm or Waking Up.
- Schedule breaks throughout the day and use that time to meditate, reflect, or journal.
- Give your brain a break at work by leaning on tools to automate redundant tasks.
5. Make a Plan
70% of people who set goals for themselves fail to achieve them. Often, a lack of planning is the reason why. Here are questions to ask yourself when setting a goal:
- What is the specific goal that I want to achieve?
- Why is this goal important to me?
- What are the big, fixed steps needed to achieve the goal?
- What are the small, more fluid steps needed to achieve the goal?
- When would I like to have this goal achieved by?
Strive for Consistency, Not Perfection
“Even small positive shifts in thinking create huge results if you are consistent in your efforts.”Nanette Mathews
Personal development takes time. You may find that you get into a new routine that supports better time or stress management, only to have a mishap or event throw you off. In these inevitable instances, it’s important to remember that the key to self-improvement is consistency, not perfection. You will never get it perfect, but with careful daily effort, you will see results.
Daily reminders for staying focused and encouraged:
- Accept that perfection does not exist.
- View mistakes as opportunities for growth.
- Embrace challenges, failures, and obstacles as adventures.
Continue learning how self-management skills can drive success by reading “Great Leadership Requires Emotional Maturity: Here’s Why.“
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