Self-management and Autonomy

Autonomy is defined as the state of independence and self-determination. This means that someone is autonomous or self-dependent or self-determined if he or she can decide for himself within a prevailing possibility, and is aware of what he does and what could happen to him. So Autonomy means freedom of one's will and one's own actions. The capability to have self-determination is essential for our mental health and our well-being. So people should respect each other's autonomy as normal and regard it as a self-evidently moral obligation.

However, often our autonomy is limited not only by external circumstances or external constraints, but also by the fact that we act habitually or automatically in certain situations. Automatic and habitual action is as a matter of principle very helpful and relieving. If we would have to think through, exactly plan and control everything we do during the day that would be quite cumbersome, slow, exhausting and tiresome. We would probably be incapable of acting right. Our habits relieve us of this difficult task. They make our lives easier and help us survive in our daily lives. Habits are basically very helpful in.

But sometimes habits hinder us to do what we would really like to do or to achieve the goals that we would actually like to achieve. For example, if someone has a habit of washing down his problems with a drink, as a matter of fact that wouldn’t help with changing the cause of the problems. If a person has the habit of not being active, his fitness and health worsen and the risk of falls or accidents increases. If someone hardly maintains or keeps contacts as a habit, he will sooner or later adjust his feelings of loneliness and the feeling of being abandoned will cease. Or if someone has a habit of seeing mainly the negative side in everything that happens, the person will effectively avoid the fact that he feels satisfied or happy.

Exactly this point is where Self-management sets in. The term self- management describes the actions and thoughts as well as the techniques and strategies that helps

  • to interrupt automatic processes and habits that prevent one to come closer to their ambitious goals
  • to acquire new processes or actions that are more favorable to their own objectives
This implies that during the time of Self-management, the existing habits and automatisms will be replaced by a conscious command and control of their own behavior and actions for some time. This often requires effort and can sometimes be exhausting. Self-management is always a learning process which does not always proceed smoothly and faultless. Often this learning process is accompanied by slip-ups or setbacks which have to be addressed successfully. Otherwise one will give up out of frustration. However, at the end of a successful learning process a new habit is developed, which is much more favorable and much more successful for the fulfillment of lifetime goals.

Successful Self-Management

On the following pages of our health course you will find some basic self-management techniques that can help you to change the things that you want to change successfully. Successful self-management actually runs mostly in several steps.

  1. Decide what you want to achieve.
  2. Think about different possibilities to achieve your goal.
  3. Opt for one of these possibilities available and choose what appears most promising to you.
  4. Develop a short-term action plan for the possible solution.
  5. Put your plan into action.
  6. Check whether your plan has helped you come closer to your goal. If you are not yet satisfied with the results, select another option, with which you can get closer to your goal (Then the whole thing repeats itself from step 4).

This targeted, step-by-step approach is often referred to as “problem-solving”. More information can be found on the "problem-solving" page“.

Sometimes it is also difficult to decide for or against one of the other possibilities. The decision is therefore postponed and the longer the decision is postponed, the more difficult it becomes to ultimately make the right decision. You will find a tool regarding making best decisions on the page “Decision Making”.

However, the crucial key to a successful self-management is often that you manage to actually implement your ideas and plans into practice. In this case short-term "action plans" can help you.

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