7 signs someone genuinely has their life together, according to psychology

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What does it mean to have your life together?

For most of us, this means that you’ve started to live your life in a mature, responsible way that’s not full of mistakes and senseless blunders. It means you finally have some stability.

But how exactly can we measure such a broad and ambiguous thing?

Perhaps we don’t have to just speculate about what it means to be mature or to finally have things together. Instead, why not look to the work of psychologists who study these topics and listen to what they tell us?

We just might find out that we’re a lot more together than we thought – hopefully not a lot less, anyway!

To help you on your way, here are seven signs someone genuinely has their life together, according to psychology.

1) They set real goals.

According to research, we humans are highly goal-oriented, and it’s these goals that motivate us.

Specific high goals drive us toward higher performance than easy goals or vague goals.

However, some people seem to have no real goals in life, not in the sense of major life-changing goals, at any rate. These people end up struggling to make decisions and find direction in their lives because they don’t have a clear picture of what they’re aiming at.

But people who have their lives together have figured out what they want to achieve. They set their sights on lofty aspirations but are also specific and directed so they know what they have to do to achieve them.

Compare a vague goal like “I want to have a better life” with a specific goal like “I want to become a general manager at my store before the age of 40”. 

The former goal is so directionless it would be nearly impossible to know if the person’s actions were ever in line with it. The latter goal is much more specific and presents a clear target.

With this kind of goal, every time a person has a choice, they can figure out which option would bring them closer to this aim. And that’s a real sign of having your life together.

2) They’re actively trying to improve themself.

If you haven’t got your life together, that means it’s apart, perhaps even pulling you in different directions at all times.

This is where get the phrase “all over the place,” which we use when we talk about people who seem scattered and confused.

So what’s one of the best ways to stop the scatter and get things centralized?

For many people, the answer is working on themselves

Trying to improve, be a better person, put your past behind you, and learn from your mistakes shows maturity. That’s true, even if you just decide to try.

And then making real changes shows that you’re able to actually take action and make changes. What’s more together than that?

It’s also getting easier to do in our culture.

Famed psychotherapist Esther Perel is happy to see more and more people going into therapy. She sees this as a big step and “a sign of being an evolved person.” 

This and other trends are focused on getting people to learn more about themselves and try to improve to get their lives sorted out.

3) They can make commitments… and keep them.

A commitment is a choice to do something accompanied by actually doing it.

And for people who are immature or unfocused, committing is something tremendously hard to do.

I’m talking here about making large life commitments, not rolling up your sleeves, and promising not to leave the restaurant while the all-you-can-eat buffet is still open.

Big commitments can include things like serious relationships, children, careers, and homes.

It’s funny that in the past, these things were considered the foundations and building blocks of life. They were considered natural steps to take in life, and trying to avoid them would be preposterous.

But our modern lives are filled with complexity and lots of choices. 

According to one study about romantic attachment, commitment is “making a choice to give up other choices.”

This can mean giving up the single life and committing to one person or focusing on one career instead of flip-flopping between many different jobs. In our modern lives, we often have so many choices and opportunities that we find it next to impossible to make up our minds.

But when we do, we make commitments that stabilize our lives and help us grow as people.

4) They’re self-aware.

One of the biggest signs that a person is grown is that they’re self-aware.

But what exactly does this mean?

According to psychology, self-awareness is “a conscious awareness of one’s internal states and interactions with others.”

In other words, if you’re self-aware, you know how you’re thinking and feeling and why. Plus, you observe and understand the way you behave toward other people.

OK, but how does self-awareness help you get your life together?

For one thing, self-awareness allows people to try to improve themselves which we already saw was a big deal. Without understanding yourself, you have no way of assessing your faults and weaknesses and finding areas to improve. 

At the same time, being self-aware also helps people become more proactive and spend less time ruminating. So if you spend less time and energy stressing about the same thing over and over and instead take action, it sounds a lot like having your life together, doesn’t it?

5) They’re financially stable.

Is anyone completely financially stable?

On the one hand, your national currency could suddenly be devalued drastically, or your bank could become insolvent and essentially go bankrupt.

On the other hand, many people have what they need every day and don’t worry about the future of their finances.

So in the end, financial stability has a lot more to do with being able to manage what you’ve got rather than any particular level of income.

But we all know what financial instability looks like.

It can be characterized by big changes in spending habits and giant swings in bank balances.

When people are financially unstable, they don’t have the income they feel they need at all times. They also lack the savings they need to pad themselves out in lean times.

They’re forever behind in their bills and feeling stressed because they can’t meet their financial commitments like rent and mortgage payments.

According to studies, people with more financial concerns have far lower life satisfaction. Their worries over money make them stressed out and prone to making bad financial decisions that may even make things worse.

But people who are stable?

They get their bills paid and have enough money left that they don’t worry. This has a huge impact on their quality of life. 

6) They’re emotionally stable, too.

Emotional control takes time.

When we’re swaddling babes (I looked it up – swaddling means wrapping in cloth!), our emotional expression is raw and pure. When we’re unhappy, we scream, and when we’re loved and fed, we coo.

As we get older, though, we learn that perhaps we shouldn’t blow our fuses over every little insult or scream bloody murder over every stubbed toe. We learn how to control our emotions to at least some extent for the sake of ourselves and the people around us.

But that doesn’t mean our interior worlds are under control. 

While some of us are very good at keeping ourselves on an even keel, others can experience wild shifts in mood and emotion. And the levels of their emotional responses may not be appropriate to the situations they find themselves in.

Having a high level of consistent negative affect is called neuroticism and includes being angry, irritable, anxious, or depressed. While neuroticism is a personality trait, we can also learn to control it to some extent.

When people turn their neuroticism into emotional stability, according to research, they experience greater levels of happiness and life satisfaction. They have their lives more under control and are able to make better choices. 

7) They take care of themselves.

It’s pretty easy to spot a person who has their ducks in a row.

Not because they waddle all around town – that’s just an expression. Instead, it’s because they look their best.

People who have things under control tend to practice more self-care than people who don’t, according to psychology. They do things like getting enough sleep, eating well, staying away from bad habits, and looking after their bodies through exercise and skincare routines.

This has a big positive effect on their well-being, and it’s easy to notice as soon as you meet them.

Final thoughts

Do any of these seven signs someone genuinely has their life together, according to psychology, ring bells for you?

If you recognize them in yourself, they could be big indicators that you’re really doing it – living your best life. If you don’t, these can turn into goals you can work on so that your life comes together before you even know it.

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