How to Take Control of Life and Live It on Our Terms

Let me start out by saying this: I realize we cannot, 100 percent, take full control of life and live it on our terms. Every day we wake up, something tragic could happen that would alter the course of our lives forever. Someday, a physician might tell us we have cancer with only six months left to live. Although these events do happen, it is a rare occurrence. What is not a rare occurrence is having the ability to change the life path in which we travel. If we are stuck in a dead end job, we have the ability to go back to school and place ourselves in a better profession. If we want to live in a different city, we have the opportunity to pack up and move. If we are presently not in a completely happy place with life, we have the ability to change and become completely happy. If you feel that you are stuck in life and there’s no way out, there is. You just have to see it, want it, work for it, and be patient.


This article was inspired by a late night conversation between me and my good friend, Jason Pegg. This isn’t an article solely about how to be a better person, but it could be. This isn’t an article solely about how you need to live your life, but it could be. This article encompasses multiple facets within our life. Many people float through life going to work, collecting a paycheck, coming home, eating dinner, and watching the late night news. There is little to no substance in these individual’s lives. In order for us to lead a fulfilling life, we must be challenged, overcome obstacles that get in our way, and succeed in those challenges.

Every day we are surrounded by people who are content with their life. What leads one person to live a life of contentment and another to live life to its fullest potential? Not to simplify a somewhat complex question, but I think it can mostly be answered by sports. Those who began playing sports at a young age tend to develop a competitive drive to always be better. Striving for betterment is something everyone needs to aim for. In order to change our life, we must be a person of action. We can talk and complain all we want but until we decide to do something about a problem, nothing will change.


If you are unhappy with your life, look at what you are unhappy about. Are you unhappy because you have become a lazy and unproductive person? Are you unhappy because your life is horrible? While this may be true and you may be a lazy and unproductive person, or lead a horrible life, you cannot think like this and continue to manifest this reality. There are reasons why people become stressed and depressed. We do not feel this way without a reason. The feeling of depression is life’s way of telling us we need to change our attitude and lifestyle. We need to map out what is causing our depression and find a way to solve the issue. If we don’t, we will continue being depressed and unhappy, and that is no one else’s fault but our own.


How we construct what is going on around us can change our perception of what is happening and we can use that to our advantage to form a better reality. I believe our thoughts and actions can alter our perception of how things are. How we think and deal with problems that come our way will heavily influence whether we continue traveling through life on our terms, or if we stop and deal with issues that waste our precious time. If we take an honest look at the problems in our life, most can be easily solved. Are there people in your life that continually bring you down and tell you that you will not reach your goals or they are pointless? If so, remove them from your life. Do you spend more time being angry and stressed in a relationship than happy and relaxed? If so, break up with that person. Are you tired of dealing with your boss or co-workers to the point of it affecting your well-being? If so, look for another job. You may feel removing a lifelong friend who brings you down, breaking up with a long-time girlfriend or boyfriend who complains about everything you do, or leaving a job with a boss who constantly complains and is unappreciative of your work is an extreme decision to make, but it’s not. Making a decision that affects our happiness is not an extreme decision. It is a necessary one should we choose to take control and be happy. Each one of these decisions are easy to make, but aren't always easy to follow through with.

Conquer Your Fear

Another component to taking control and living life on our terms is overcoming our fears. When we are afraid of doing something, we are limited to what we can experience and accomplish in life. When I was a kid, my friends and I would roam around our large neighborhood all day and night. Away, and off to the side of our neighborhood, was an abandoned road that was pitch black at night and stretched for nearly a half mile. It was always frightening to us because we were young and it was dark. You could not see more than a few feet in front of you. One night, I decided to overcome my fear and walk the road alone. It became easier with each step I took. The next thing I knew, I was no longer afraid of the dark.

A few weeks ago I was able to conquer another fear. For as long as I can remember, I was afraid of heights. I hated roller coasters and anything that put me in a high place, so I decided to go skydiving. Not only did I get over my fear of heights, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of jumping out of an airplane two miles above our Earth and I'm already planning on doing it again. There are other fears I have in my personal life that I'm currently working on overcoming, as well. Fears are almost always an illusion we created within our own mind, and in order to free ourselves of those fears, we must confront them head-on and conquer what we are afraid of.

Facing reality on a daily basis can help us be in more control over who we are. Choose something difficult to achieve and go after it with everything you have. By choosing a difficult task to achieve, it allows us to face reality on a consistent basis. If you are at a powerlifting meet, you cannot fake being stronger than someone else. If your best deadlift is 400 pounds and the person after you can deadlift 500 pounds, you cannot fake a 505 pound deadlift to show you are stronger. Six months ago I began taking private Muay Thai lessons with a professional fighter and there is no way I could fake being a better fighter than him inside the cage. Every time you set foot on the platform or inside the cage, you are facing reality. The vast majority of people who sit at home critiquing an athlete have never been humbled by stepping inside of a cage, on a football field, basketball court, or a powerlifting platform. They have distorted their perception of reality to where they feel as if they are on the same level as a professional athlete. Do not be one of these people. Choose a difficult challenge to achieve, be humbled, learn your place in life, do not quit, and value the fact that you succeeded in something that many others have failed.


How we speak reflects our actions and the vocabulary we use plays a role in how we conduct ourselves. Have you ever talked to someone who sounds like they're questioning themselves? They use phrase such as:

“I’d like to do this."

"I might do that.”

“I kind of like that”

I find these words weak and annoying. People who use “like, might, and kind of” show no control or decisiveness in their life. Use definite words when you communicate. Make a commitment when you speak. Every once in a while I find myself saying “I’d like to do this,” but after a few minutes of thinking, it is almost always changed to, “I will do this” or “I will not do that.” I’ll contemplate if what I’d “like” to do is worth doing or not. If it is, then I will do it and if it’s not, then I will not and nothing else will be said of it. If you say you're going to do something, do it. If you continually say you will do something and not follow through, even if you think it affects no one else, it still affects who you are because you allow yourself off the hook and seemingly remove the responsibility of what you once agreed to. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

When we take control over our life, we must also accept responsibility for our failures. There are few things in life that we will succeed in accomplishing the first time we attempt them. I can only think of a few things I accomplished successfully during my first attempt, when there were literally hundreds of other things I failed. I failed them the first, second, or many more times before finally getting it right. Do not lose sight of a goal that means a lot to you because you continually fail at reaching for it. I sincerely believe that if you want something badly enough, it will happen in due time. It might not be on your timeline, but it will happen. Be patient and continue working as hard as you can.

Think Happy Thoughts

The last thing we need to do in order to take control of life and live it on our terms is to sometimes force ourselves to think happy and positive thoughts. As I mentioned before, I really and truly believe our mind can play a huge role in determining our reality. This was proven to me time and time again in the gym. There were times I went to the gym sick, not feeling well, or I was mentally in another place. When this happens, often times I tell myself a few hours before I train, that I'm going to hit a personal record (PR). This may not be the wisest thing to do for some people, but it is a mental test for me. Last February, I sliced my hand open to where there was no question I needed stitches, but I couldn’t afford them. Instead, I applied Neosporin®, wrapped several sheets of toilet paper around my hand (since it was bleeding profusely), and taped it up nice and tight. The whole day I kept thinking that if I went to the gym and hit it, my hand would open up again and it would take another hour to stop the bleeding. I could've stayed home and started the healing process. Angry at the thought of staying home, I decided not only will I go to the gym and squat like originally planned, I will set a rep PR. When I arrived at the gym, I was not only squatting with a bad hand, I was also squatting without my knee sleeves. There was no way I could grip my knee sleeves well enough to put them on due to my hand being messed up. I became even more frustrated and tried to justify not squatting at all, but I went to the gym with a purpose and I was going to fulfill it. I loaded the bar, turned my iPod up as loud as it could go, took an extra minute to mentally prepare myself, and I finished the set with a rep PR. The feeling I had after the lift was a sense of pride that helped change me as a person. With each battle we accomplish, our sense of worth and pride increases. It might not be much at times, but it accumulates until you think and feel differently about yourself.

It was the small battles which helped me get past a very rough spot in my life last year. From March to the end of August, I was in a dark place of my life filled with bad days where I was learning how to cope and come to terms with several things. I was allowing past events to eat away at me and in turn, make me into an angry person. There were three different occasions when I nearly got into a fight with someone at a bar or on the side of the road. If you knew me at all, you would know that is out of character and not the person I am. I would get mad at someone over the littlest thing. Not because what happened was worth getting mad over, but because I was so angry that any minor thing would set me off. Sometimes it takes a while before we realize the extent of what is going on inside us and in my case, it was around the end of July when I had to set myself down and take back the control that I lost. It was not easy at first. You can always tell the true character of someone when they hit rock bottom. Those who are at rock bottom and use every excuse in the book for why they are in the situation will never reach their potential. It is those who are able to take a step back, assess their situation, and see where they went wrong; they're the ones who are likely to go further in life. I had to work hard at creating a happy environment in my head for me to always be in. I had my good days and bad days, as everyone else. I noticed what I had repeatedly learned in the gym. Just as I transitioned from not wanting to squat with a sliced opened hand to squatting a personal record, I was slowly transitioning from an angry person to a happy person. I was able to alter my mind to benefit my reality, just as I was able to alter my mind to benefit my lifts in the gym, which led to me to take control of my life and live it on my terms.


It has been nearly a year since I last had a bad day and I feel like a completely different person now. There are still moments when I become frustrated and mad, but those are human emotions which will always be there. I was able to take control over my life and turn it around, and with some of these guidelines, hopefully you can too, if you find yourself in a situation where you need to do so. Always remember that no matter what happens to you, it is our choice in how we react to circumstances we sometimes find ourselves in. We can either allow a situation to get the better of us, or we can let it slide past us, learn from what happened, and continue moving forward with what is most important – taking control of life and living it on our terms.