What Is Self-Management?

Self-management represents a way to consciously approach the process of changing things in one´s life. Self-management is based on five dimensions: awareness, relationships, planning, deciding and action.

All of these dimensions are intertwined with our everyday life, including both our professional and private affairs. For this reason it is important to look at each of them individually and see how they affect how we cope with stress, whether at work or at home. Self-management, however, it must be emphasized, is in itself not a therapy!

The Role of  Awareness

The first dimension of self-management lies in awareness or acquiring knowledge. Here we reflect on our inner world as well as on external reality; we create a self-image; we get an idea of the world that surrounds us; we get to know the people we encounter. Such appropriation helps us to maintain a realistic perspective and to properly judge the situation we are in.

The Importance of Relationships

Our interpersonal relationships comprise the second dimension of self-management. Each of us is part of a more or less broad network of intertwined relations. Indeed, we could not exist without contact to our fellow human beings. This aspect of self-management reveals the simple truth that we are not alone on this planet. But who are these other people and how do I interact with them? Especially in times of crisis we are dependent on having contact with other people with whom we can discuss and work out our problems.

Successful Planning

Planning is the third dimension of self-management. Planning is directed toward the future – our attitudes about the future and our expectations for the future become part of our plans. So we have to ask ourselves: What do I want to be and how do I want to live? Planning helps us to develop a personal vision of our own future and necessary actions to achieve this end. We must look forward! And planning can help us to discover the breadth of our options as well as the paths for leaving problematic situations behind us. 

The Best Decision Possible

Making decisions is the fourth dimension of self-management. We live in a world of plenty and must often choose from a multitude of different possibilities. This dimension of self-management thus deals with how we approach the options that lie before us. The question is: What are our alternatives and how can we best decide from among these many possibilities? To this end we have to weigh the various vantage points and arguments in order to reach an informed decision that will likely best fit our needs.


The fifth dimension of self-management is acting upon our decision. Only by actually carrying out an action do we turn a possibility into a reality. Action is an expression of our personal self-efficacy; action puts things into motion and creates change. In our actions, we commence with the path that lies before us. The first step demands motivation, of course, and may even force us to jump some fences, but this is only way to get us going. And only by movement can we actually get closer to our goals.