I used to think that other people were the cause of my feelings. I was an adult making choices in my life, but if I was unhappy with the results, someone else was somehow responsible.
Instead of making changes, I would come up with excuses why I couldn’t: I was working too much. I had no time. I didn’t know what I wanted to do.
Manufacturing justifications for inaction of course led to more inaction, which, didn’t change my results.
If we think that we’re not responsible for our results, then there’s no way for us to fix them. We continue thinking that we’re “stuck” as victims of our circumstances, which leads to more inaction, which leads to the same old results.
I finally realized that I was responsible for everything that I was creating in my life. It was all on me. And knowing that changed everything because it meant that I could change what I was doing and get new, better results.
What Does It Mean To Take 100% Responsibility For Your Life?
Taking 100% responsibility for your life means that you understand that, although you don’t always control your external circumstances, you still control how you think about those circumstances, how you feel about those circumstances, what you do, and what your results are.
It means recognizing that every decision that you have made until now was yours to make. Unless you truly acted under duress (i.e., someone was pointing a deadly weapon at you), you made the decision to go to school (and acquire student loans), buy the house (and acquire the mortgage), have the kids (and raise them), take the job, make the move, etc. There will always be circumstances and events that you do not choose, but you always get to choose your response. You can argue with reality that something “shouldn’t have happened” or you can accept that it did happen and decide how you want to respond.
Taking responsibility means learning what you can from your past decisions, but then moving on and focusing on your future. What do you want to create? Who do you want to become? If you don’t know, then it’s your responsibility to figure it out.
When you tell yourself “I don’t know what to do” or “there’s nothing I can do,” you’re giving yourself permission to stay stuck in confusion and not figure it out, which means you’re not taking full responsibility for your life.
Once you understand that you are 100% responsible for your current results, you empower yourself to change those results. Think about the result that you really want. Is it to find a new job? Create a new business? Write and publish a book?
Write down everything you need to do to get that result. Exactly what actions would you have to take?
This is where a lot of people get overwhelmed. It can feel like too much because they’re thinking negative thoughts, like “I don’t know how to do this.” But overwhelm is not going to help you create your desired results, so you need another feeling and thought pattern to convince your brain to take those actions.
What are you going to need to feel in order to take those actions and get that result? Is it a feeling of determination or commitment? Write it down.
To generate the feeling of determination or commitment, what would you need to think and believe? For many of my clients, it’s as simple as the thought “I am committed to creating a better life for myself by finding a new job.” Whatever the thought is for you, write it down and practice it.
“Empowerment” Does Not Equal “Easy”
To create change in your life and take 100% responsibility for your results, you will have to change your thought patterns, manage your mind on a daily basis, and take massive action. This requires significantly more effort than being disempowered and feeling like a victim of your circumstances.
There will be times when creating new results feels incredibly hard. You will want to feel overwhelmed. You will want to tell yourself you don’t know what to do. You will want to avoid taking action. You will want to curl up on the couch with ice cream and watch Netflix instead.
During those times, think about your desired result: how will you feel when you’ve achieved it? Vividly imagine what it will be like to have done it.
Then remember what actions you need to take to obtain it.
And what emotion you need to do that.
And what thought you need to think and believe to create that emotion.
Then practice that thought. By practicing that thought, you will create the emotion you need to feel, so that you can go do what you need to do.
You’ve got this.
Go forth, grow, and bloom.