Rosemary Conley, Nicola Horlick, Edwina Currie... they all have one thing in common, they're all in control of their lives. So what have they got that others haven't, especially me, asks Deborah Ross.

Mostly, very successful people seem to know where they are going and how they're going to get there, don't they? They have routes and destinations.

They can see how going to one place can take them to another. Their minds are like those Trackmaster on-board computer thingies. They do not close their eyes at roundabouts hoping for the best. They are very in control of all this stuff.

Philip Schofield knew he wanted to work for the BBC from 12 years old. He wrote letters almost weekly until, finally, he was given a job in the post room where his great talent for reading envelopes was suitably rewarded with a job in children's television. Dale Winton wanted to be a TV host so much that, when he first went to see the producers of Supermarket Sweep, he told them: "I am the host of this show. I know it's for me. You give me this job and you won't regret it."

Edwina Currie writes every day from 9am to 1pm whether the muse is with her or not. Of course, it rarely is, but she doesn't let such a small detail bother her. She wants to write bestsellers so she will. I want to write bestsellers but won't because my car tax is due and, first, I have to find my MOT and that's going to take me until a year next Wednesday. One time, it was eventually tracked down to our sugar bowl.

Perhaps the prime example of someone being totally in command is Nicola Horlick. She has everything under control, even her ovulation. Nicola had all her babies in December so that her maternity leave would always coincide with Christmas. Nicola never had a son in May because she forgot to take the pill the previous August. (And neither did I. He was very much a planned child, even though the wedding was a bit rushed.)

Even Nicola's womb, it would seem, is a Filofax. I once had a Filofax, but as soon as I realised I had to organise it in order for it to organise me, I pretty quickly lost interest and went back to forgetting to meet people for lunch and writing important phone numbers on the backs of bus tickets which were then promptly lost. I have never knowingly filled in a cheque stub.

Nicola Horlick is very rich whereas I am not. I wonder, could I have inadvertantly thrown out the MOT the last time I cleared out my handbag? Clearing out my handbag involves holding it upside down over a dustbin and banging it robustly. I have even lost passports this way.

Of course, life sometimes throws horrid, random things at you. Things you could never plan for. One of Nicola Horlick's five children - her oldest daughter, Georgina - was diagnosed as having leukemia. But, still, Nicola did not go to pieces. She shot over to Georgina's school at lunchtimes to give her the necessary injections. She rarely took a day off work. She took the blow as squarely as anyone could, then just got on with dealing with it.

People who are in control don't mess about hand wringing and wailing. Look at Rosemary Conley, the hip and thigh woman. I met her once and asked her if she ever, say, went out for dinner and went mad and had a pudding or something. She said that she did, yes, but that was OK because the following morning she'd compensate by having half an ounce of All Bran for breakfast instead of her usual full ounce.

Rosemary Conley would never have breakfast before she went to bed at night in case she overslept and didn't have time in the morning, like this one, hopelessly greedy person I know. (Clue: her first name begins with "D".)

I wonder, where does control come from? Your parents? I don't think so. My mother is very in control. My mother can't watch EastEnders if she thinks the draining board in the kitchen needs a wipe. If my father goes to the toilet in the middle of the night, she's made his side of the bed by the time he gets back. My father is very in control, too. My father has shares and pensions and insurance policies and can't understand why I can't understand what an endowment mortgage is "especially as YOU'VE GOT ONE!" Have I?