“When you blame others, you give up your power to change.”
Life is always full of choices and what you make of them and how you interpret your life events ultimately determines your experience. You can either approach your life with an attitude of responsibility or with an attitude of excuse. If you are always waiting for right time or set of circumstances that make it possible to do something, you will be forever postponing your happiness waiting for the ‘ if only’ and allow yourself impacted by forces that are external to you.
When you believe that regardless of what you do, external forces will dictate your future, it can be quite disempowering and keeps you stuck in self-destructive cycle of victimhood. People who operate from this mindset generally buy into ideas such as ‘I am a victim’, ‘I am entitled to things’ or ‘my past pretty much reflects my future’ and so on. This keeps them in a state of powerlessness relative to themselves and their life. From the state of victim hood, one cannot make the required effort to overcome their unfavourable circumstances. When you fail to take the responsibility for the part you are playing in the outcomes you are getting, you cannot seek and create opportunities that are right for your success.
On the contrary, When you take responsibility for the part you play in your outcomes, you get to choose how you respond to people, situations, circumstances, and things in your life. Taking personal responsibility can be quite self-empowering where you can take the action and risks that you need in order to ensure that you achieve the results you desire. Then the future will be what you make of it and you can be in control of your life experiences. So, if you want to view your life events or future situations in positive light and in terms of seeking and creating opportunities, you should develop the ability to take personal responsibility for your actions, decisions, choices, habits and thoughts.
With responsibility comes the willingness to work hard and to make a genuine effort to improve yourself by learning from your mistakes, failures and rejections. This state of empowerment builds your capability for facing and owning potential consequences of any choice you make.
What it means to take personal responsibility?
Responsibility is combination of words ‘response’ and ‘ability’ or in other words, your ability to respond to your environment. Truly accepting responsibility means not falling prey to victim mentality, not succumbing to your fears or insecurities and not falling into the trap of regretting past choices, decisions or actions. This means breaking free from anything that holds you back or that which makes you feel mentally or emotionally powerless. Recognising that the outcome of your life is a product of your decisions is what accepting personal responsibility all about. The choice you make either moves you closer to your desired outcomes and experiences or holds you back. Being responsible is to be accountable for the choices you make so that you can choose to create or seek solutions and create new opportunities for your personal or professional goals instead of blaming others or situations, complaining, and making excuses.
The real meaning of taking responsibility is to take ownership of your behaviour, choices, actions or decisions and their consequences. And also for your poor choices, mistakes or failures. It also involves moving beyond yourself and taking action to help people or situations around you that call for assistance. Not facing consequences for your wrong action or shifting blame to someone or something else for your misdeeds may sometimes work to your advantage but only in the short-term. This poor choice will eventually catch up with you and might cause you more damage down the road than stepping up to the situation. Responsibility is more to do with how effectively you can manage yourself when the opportunity to make a choice presents itself.
Responsibility breeds Empowerment
Many people have the desire to show off their successes but pass the buck when something is bound to fail. Failing to accept responsibility not only lowers your self-esteem and self-worth but also makes you view your life as having little or no value. On the contrary, responsibility breeds empowerment and boosts your personal or professional performance. By accepting responsibility and your role in problems, you can focus more on problem-solving, you can get more work done and gain power to initiate change. You develop the ability to create and respond instead of passively reacting to it.
With personal responsibility, you can own your life’s choices and decisions no matter how flawed or imperfect they may be. Owning your imperfections, flaws or mistakes leaves lot of room for self-improvement and gives space for plenty of opportunities to grow and develop. Whereas irresponsibility keeps you stuck in the patterns of self-victimisation. When you become accountable for your thoughts, feelings, habits and well-being, you can choose to make changes towards reaching your highest potential. Taking responsibility is empowering because it encourages solution-based thinking that can lead to creative ideas to help you solve your problems more effectively.
Personal responsibility also has to do with your daily habits, those you keep, the ones you break and those you build by choice and decisive action. When you begin to see the bigger picture of your actions and their consequences, you can change your habits or daily routines and create more helpful habits in order to decrease stress, increase productivity, or better time-management and increased job satisfaction. And builds trust with people.
Why Do We Deny Responsibility?
Taking personal responsibility of our life and circumstances gives us personal power to achieve our goals, but it is not always pleasant to shoulder it when those circumstances are unfavourable or completely out of our control. Personal responsibility brings up thoughts associated with work and commitment of some sort that drives many to avoid whenever possible. We all like to live without limiting our personal choices. Often when those choices are limited or when things don’t quite go as we had expected, we complain, blame everything and everyone, try to make excuses and shun responsibility to our own detriment. Also the other reasons being
• Lack of self-awareness or being disconnected from our deepest wants, goals, values or needs.
• Low self-esteem or belief that we aren’t really important or of value.
• Mistaken beliefs absorbed through our social, cultural or personal environments.
• Dependency on others’ judgment and assessment of things.
• Unwillingness to learn from our mistakes, failures or weaknesses or to improve ourselves.
• Lack of courage and commitment to follow-through our goals and objectives.
• Inability to focus on solution-based way of thinking or on creating opportunities to move forward with our goals.
• Approaching the problems from a source of weakness or victim mindset.
How to take Personal Responsibility
Learning to take responsibility is the key to self-management and self-growth. It represents your ability to make changes and choices about your work, health and well-being in a positive manner. Personal responsibility is also important in how we react to stress or certain lifestyle choices we make that trigger stress. Here are some ways to become more accountable and responsible in your personal or professional endeavours.
When you have greater self-awareness of the choices that can be made and the impact your choices or decisions can have on those around you, you will be able to create more personal responsibility. Gain clarity so you are well aware of the things you should be doing and how they should be done both in personal or your professional goals. If others’ expectations are unclear, it is better to communicate and seek feedback to avoid assumptions. Be aware of your fears and explore the possible causes of it. If you feel you were not successful at a task, reflect on what you could have done differently to create better outcome. Another way to develop personal responsibility is to ask questions that focus on your potential actions. For instance, you can ask yourself as to how you can get accustomed to change or to new ways of doing things? How can you get a particular task completed on time? How can you solve the problem? Lay out your goals and the necessary tasks that will help you solve the problem. This will help you in becoming more accountable and proactive in taking required action-steps to make the necessary improvements.
Set Personal Boundaries
Do not over-commit yourself or take on too much. Know that certain things are out of your control and you cannot do everything. Consider your workload before agreeing to another task or role. Ask yourself as to whether or not you will be able to accomplish additional work and do it to the best of your ability. It is hard to maintain personal responsibility when you take on more than you can handle even if you think that it could pay off on the end with a reward. Taking on more than you can handle not only distracts you from your core responsibilities but also leads to compromising your work performance.
Saying ‘no’ can help you in setting boundaries that are needed for you to be able to uphold your responsibilities and achieve your goals. And also commit to staying true to a set of values and run your decisions through them as a check for consistency before enacting the decision in order to stay accountable.
Be Honest With Yourself
It is often very difficult to accept your own fault when it comes negative outcomes or poor decisions. Being honest with yourself and others about your wants and needs creates clarity with those around you. Being honest also involves admitting to your mistakes and the consequences. Offer a genuine apology to those affected by your actions, choices or decisions. Do what you can to minimise the consequences for others and look for ways to make some amends for your actions. Take responsibility for your own behaviour and admit your failure-to-act when you should have done so. You will achieve more success when you are fully honest with yourself and those around you in your personal or professional environments.
Stop Procrastinating On Your Tasks
Slacking, hiding from work, doing unimportant tasks, or putting off breeds irresponsibility and creates a negative self-image. To develop personal responsibility, keep yourself organised by using whatever avenue works best for yourself instead of procrastinating your goals and responsibilities. Don’t put your personal and professional obligations until the last minute. By leaving little time for your important tasks, the final output will be always short of what you are really capable of as you’ve insufficient time to deliver quality results. Be aware of the root causes to your habit of procrastination and work towards ocercoming it.
Be Your authentic-self
While it’s easy to blame others and act helpless, it’s difficult to take risks and stand up for the things that you believe are right. Many of us take poor decisions or choices in order to appease our impulses when we are presented with choices. When you recognise that your choices led to negative consequences, you feel empowered knowing that you can make better choices moving forward instead of beating yourself up. To be responsible doesn’t mean doing things that someone else expects you to do. It means doing things that you believe what you think is right by trusting your own judgment and not rely on others to make those judgments for you. Be self-directed and motivated to stand up for the things that you believe are right and make choices from your true authentic-self.
Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses and have the self-control to be responsible to what you commit. You also have to develop personal restraint to be able to say no to tasks that are beyond your scope of knowledge despite your eagerness to prove yourself. Recognise that you don’t know everything and know that you can reach out for help during times of uncertainty. Instead of blaming external factors, taking responsibility for yourself by advocating for your needs and owning the areas of your weaknesses can make you more focused on solutions rather than on problems.
Focus On Solution-Based Thinking
Acknowledge that you are fully responsible for the situation you are in irrespective of whether you played a large or small role in creating the circumstances that led to a particular problem. By openly acknowledging how your choices and decisions have led you to that very moment helps you to focus on solutions to overcome them. What did I do, or not do, which may have contributed to this problem? How are others affected by this problem? How am I affected by this situation? How did I contribute to the problem? How is this situation of my own making? Having taken the ownership of the situation you can figure out which part of the problem you were responsible or have control in solving. Identifying your role and owning it can help you to work around the problem and initiate the required changes to improve your situation and resolve the problem.
So, what does personal responsibility mean to you? How personally responsible are you? Do you hold yourself accountable for your choices and decisions? What comes to your mind regarding some of your own past mistakes? Do you consider yourself as a victim or a victor?What have you done recently to create opportunities to move forward with your dreams or goals? Is there someone on your mind who deserves an authentic apology? Do you take personal responsibility to make things happen? What’s getting in the way of you seeking or creating opportunities for yourself? What changes can you initiate today to become more personally responsible? If your words or thoughts are hindering your progress, what could you possibly choose to do?
Challenge yourself by asking yourself the above questions to find new ways to become more responsible in making progress.
To take responsibility for your life circumstances requires objective thinking, embracing difficult situations while acknowledging your failures and mistakes. It also requires seeing opportunities within every problem or circumstance you find yourself in. It also requires self-discipline and above all else making a commitment to continuous improvement. With practice, you will develop this new and empowering habit that will help you to make the most of every situation. Commit yourself to implementing positive changes, quit making excuses, blaming others or situations and let go of your complaining.
Be accountable, define goals, generate ideas, prioritise, plan, create more opportunities to make things happen. Take responsibility for your own actions whilst holding others accountable for theirs. Do not indulge in self-pity and start living your life with more intention and purpose.
“ In the long-run, our lives are shaped by ourselves and the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” – Eleanor Roosevelt