How To Take Back Control And Lead The Life You Want

Updated November 15, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Life is not always as easy to manage as we would like. At times, people may feel like they have no control over their lives, which may cause them severe stress and discourage them from going after the things they want. No matter how lost you may feel in the present, however, moving forward and regaining the control you seek is possible. Have you thought to yourself, “I’ve lost control of my life”? If so, here are some tips on how to take back control and lead the life you want.

Feeling out of control can be scary.

“I’ve Lost Control Of My Life”: Understanding Where Your Loss Is Coming From

When we think to ourselves, “I’ve lost control of my life,” we may be thinking that we’ve lost control in general or that we’ve lost control over certain aspects of life that are important to us. Acknowledging this distinction is important when we’re attempting to regain a sense of control.

For example, let’s imagine that you feel as though you’ve lost control of your work life. You may lack professional goals at the moment, find yourself in a position that you do not enjoy, or be struggling to keep up with your current  workload.

Take some time to think about:

  • Where you feel most lost
  • When you feel like you lost control
  • Which parts of your life are most impacted

We will look further into this topic to help you discover what you can change later in the article.

Treating The Symptoms That Come With A Lost Sense Of Control

A loss of control can be very stressful for a person who is experiencing it.  A perceived lack of control may lead you to feel more stressed, anxious, or pessimistic about your life. To help you better understand whether you are dealing with any of the above issues, we’ll address each of them in more detail.

Symptoms of stress may include:

  • Muscle tension and pain
  • Trouble breathing or rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Stomach issues
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety

Symptoms of anxiety may include:

  • Feeling constantly on edge
  • Feeling angry or irritable
  • Having panic attacks
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Muscle pain or other pains throughout the body
  • Trouble sleeping and fatigue
  • Issues focusing and concentrating
  • Constantly feeling worried

Symptoms of depression may include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Trouble sleeping or oversleeping
  • Eating too much or eating too little
  • Random pains throughout the body
  • Fatigue and difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Loss of joy and isolation

When we feel like our lives are spiraling out of control, it’s common to experience symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, make sure to reach out for help. A trusted friend, mentor, or therapist can help you get support for your symptoms and learn how to better cope with them.

Once you have a better understanding of why you feel out of control and how it is impacting you, you are in a better position to cultivate change within your life. Here are some valuable tips for regaining control:

Setting Goals

If you don’t have clear goals, this may be one key contributor to the lack of control in your life. Goals help us to figure out what we want in life, serve as reminders of what we are working towards, and keep us on track, wherever that road may be taking us. Here is how you can set effective goals that can guide you towards the life you want.

  1. Come Up With A List Of Things You Want To Accomplish Or Achieve In Your Life: Most of us have some idea of where we want our lives to go, if not specific goals that we have been looking to achieve for some time. Break down your life into subcategories (i.e., personal, professional, financial, social, romantic, etc.) and figure out what you want to achieve down the road. Do you want to purchase a new car soon? Do you want to have an emergency fund set aside within a specific window of time? Do you want to try a new hobby and meet new people? No matter what your goals or desires may be, write these down as you brainstorm.
  2. Transform Those Items Into Specific, Actionable Goals: When goals are unclear, it can make it easy for us to abandon them. We may feel as though we are working towards nothing as the goal is too broad. For example, let’s imagine that one of your goals is to get a space of your own. While this is an admirable goal, it is too unclear. Think about exactly what kind of space you want. You can better specify your goal by thinking about what apartment or house you want, where it’s located, what the price range is, and how you can work towards getting that house or apartment. The more specific and actionable your goal is, the more success you may experience while working towards it.
  3. Set A Deadline For Your Goal And Break It Down Into Achievable Tasks: Besides being specific, your goal should have a set deadline and should be easy to break down into steps. This is so that you can slowly chip away at it and measure your progress as you go. Continuing with the above example, you may want to get a new apartment next year. From there, you can look at the cost and your budget, setting up monthly or weekly savings goals so that you are prepared to purchase your dream apartment by the specified date. When you have a clear focus, you have more control over your life direction.

Goals allow us to work towards the things that we truly want. Without them, it can be easy to feel lost. However, goals without action can be just as troublesome.

Making Progress And Maintaining Motivation

The goals that you set should be things that you truly want in your life. This can help you stay motivated as you work towards these goals. If you are having trouble adjusting to goal setting and taking action, one great way to stay focused is to set small reminders around your work area or in your home. This can help you stay motivated in accomplishing the tasks that you have set for yourself.

Additionally, you may want to have a tool that helps you track your progress as you cross off tasks and work towards your goal. For example, having a journal with a checklist of your tasks, a deadline for your goal, and short descriptions of your feelings as you work towards what you want can be a great tool.

Accepting What We Can’t Control

We can’t control everything that happens in our lives. However, acknowledging this reality can bring us far more peace than attempting to work against it. If something that happens slows down your progress, remind yourself that you are in control of your life direction, even if things happen that may make it more difficult to reach your destination. As long as you can re-adjust, figure out how you can still get to the life you want, and work towards that, you can maintain a feeling of control.

Feeling out of control can be scary.

Sometimes, people experience obstacles when trying to gain a feeling of control in their lives. If you are affected by symptoms of anxiety or depression or if you are not sure where you want to go in life, for example, it can be harder to regain a sense of control. If this is how you feel, you may want to consider turning to a counselor for help.

A licensed mental health professional can help you deal with symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression and provide you with the tools needed to create a better future. When you’re feeling out of control, the situation can seem urgent.

For example, BetterHelp is an online counseling platform that connects users to licensed counselors. Most people are matched with a BetterHelp counselor within 24 to 48 hours after signing up.

It's normal to have questions about the effectiveness of online therapy. After all, this is a relatively new counseling model. Still, extensive research has been conducted regarding internet-based therapy outcomes. One recent study found that seeking help from an online therapist is more effective in alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression than self-help methods.


Remember that you are more powerful than you think. You can change your life, no matter how out of control you may feel at the moment. If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I’ve lost control of my life,” use the guide above to help you figure out where you lack control, how you can regain that control, and where you can get help if you are struggling along the way.

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