Focusing on self-direction, an individual is able to direct, control and manage the self in ways that are self-enhancing within the boundaries and defined norms of the social group or society (Witmer & Sweeney, 1992). Self-direction includes 12 sublife-tasks and is defined as the way a person “regulates, disciplines, and directs the self in daily activities and in pursuit of long-range goals” (Myers et al., 2000, p. 353).
The coping self is composed of various elements that regulate humans’ responses to life, events and situations to transcend negative affects (Myers & Sweeney, 2004). The significance of the concept of self-regulation was identified by Bandura (2005) and is associated with the acquisition of knowledge, skills, the achievement of potential and the level of self-development. Individuals who score low on selfregulation usually hardly achieve progress in self-development. However, selfregulation can be taught through authentic opportunities to develop and practise it (Gross, Cuddihy, & Michaud-Tomson, 2004). Ryan, Kuhl and Deci (1997) point out that inner resources play an important role in the development of individuals, their behavioural self-regulation and other personality development processes. In an article published 3 years later, Ryan and Deci (2000) stated in their theory on selfdetermination that competence, autonomy and relatedness, being defined as inner psychological needs, can either enhance or undermine intrinsic motivation, selfregulation and well-being. If the three inner psychological needs are fulfilled, they seem to enhance intrinsic motivation, self-regulation and well-being. If they stay unfulfilled, they seem to reduce them.
According to Myers and Sweeney (2008), self-regulation includes physical fitness and health habits, a sense of humour, creativity, problem-solving, spontaneity, realistic beliefs, a sense of control, intellectual stimulation, emotional responsiveness and a sense of worth. Based on self-regulation, Myers and Sweeney defined the 12 sub-life-tasks of self-direction. These 12 sub-tasks support the regulation and direction of the self, while responding to the life tasks of work and leisure, friendship and love (Sweeney, 2009).
The 12 sub-life-tasks of self-direction, which are used in this study are (Myers, & Sweeney, 2008): (a) sense of worth, (b) sense of control, (c) realistic beliefs, (d) emotional awareness and coping, (e) problem-solving and creativity, (f) sense of humour, (g) nutrition, (h) exercise, (i) self-care, (j) stress management, (k) gender identity, and (l) cultural identity.
These sub-life-tasks will be described and defined in the following section.