Take Responsibility And Don’t Pass The Buck
Do you take full responsibility for your own life?
Give yourself this RESPONSIBILITY TEST:
- Do you BLAME OTHERS for whatever goes wrong with your life?
- Do you CREDIT OTHERS for whatever goes right with your life?
- Do you DEPEND ON OTHERS to tell you what to do with your life?
How did you do? This is important, because if you want to be able to go after your goals and to have the kind of life you want, you will need to take responsibility for your own life. What follows is an excerpt from my upcoming book, This Is Your Life: No Apology Needed, about taking responsibility for your life:
It amazes me that so many people are fearless about taking charge of other people’s lives but are scared to death to take charge of their own! Granted, it can seem like an overwhelming task to take charge of your own life. But that is what you as a mature adult must do, unless you intend to make somebody else your personal slave. When you feel insecure and afraid, you have two choices in life: to courageously face your fears and take care of your needs, or to give in to your fears and look to someone else to take care of you. This second choice amounts to abandoning your own precious life and becoming a parasite on your fellow human beings.
There are many tactics for shirking your responsibility for your own life. Here are the three most popular:
1. Blaming Or Crediting Other People, Things, Or Circumstances
You can become an expert at passing the buck. When you blame someone or something else for your actions by saying things like, “You made me do it,” “My upbringing made me do it,” “My attention-deficit disorder made me do it,” “They made me do it,” or “Fate made me do it,” you are saying that you are a puppet on someone else’s string. Likewise when you credit somebody or something else for you character or achievements by saying thinks like, “It’s all due to you,” or “It’s just good luck,” or “Thanks to my upbringing,” you are saying that you have no choices in your life, no ability to act on your own decisions, and that you had nothing to do with your accomplishment. You are confessing that you want somebody else to take the responsibility for your life, your actions, and the consequences of your actions.
A prime example of blaming something outside yourself is the statement, “It wasn’t meant to be.” How many times have you heard this phrase, or said it yourself? This phrase is just an excuse to quit when you don’t succeed the first time, or when things don’t go as planned, or when you haven’t yet achieved what you set out to do. If you are running into obstacles and someone tells you, “It wasn’t meant to be,” they may be trying to comfort you, but at the same time they are discouraging you from continuing to strive toward your goal. If you accept this statement, you are using it as an excuse to give up.
Were Mrs. Fields Cookies “meant to be”? In 1977 Debbi Fields had a brand new idea for her time. Ashamed at not having anything to show for her life, at age twenty she opened a cookie shop in Palo Alto, California. No one had ever opened a cookie shop before and, to her dismay, no one came into her shop.
Debbi could have just shrugged her shoulders and said, “It wasn’t meant to be.” But what did Debbi do? She stood outside her shop and offered her cookies to passers by for free! They were so delicious that people began pouring into her shop. She intended to make her business a success, and she knew it was up to her to do so.
Considering the “meant to be” part of the statement, we have to ask ourselves, meant by whom? This implies that the intention belongs to some party other than the person who is striving for the goal. In actuality, when you strive for a goal you are the one intending for it to be, and you are the one working diligently toward that purpose. No one else. Whether it is to be or not to be is up to you. (Of course, whether or not customers buy is up to them. You must offer a product or service that other people want at a price they can afford and let people know about it in order for your business to be a success.)
Was Oprah Winfrey’s TV talk show “meant to be”? Yes, it was meant to be – by Oprah Winfrey. Was Lucile Ball’s TV sit-com show “meant to be”? Yes, it was meant to be – by Lucille Ball. Were Helena Rubenstein, Estee Lauder and Mary Kay cosmetics companies “meant to be”? Yes they were meant to be – by each of these women who put forth the effort to create these companies.
It is perfectly legitimate to change your mind and change your goals. But when you or someone else tries to justify giving up your dream by the statement, “it wasn’t meant to be,” you are blaming a third party for your own lack of persistence. And you are confessing that you do not want to be in charge of your life. This puts your goals and your life in the hands of outsiders instead of your own.
Blaming or crediting others by passing the buck is one of the most popular tactics for avoiding your responsibility for your life. But when you blame or credit anything outside yourself for your thoughts, your actions, and the consequences of your actions, you remove yourself from the “control panel” of your life.
2. Getting Lost In Books, Movies, TV, Or The Internet
Some women prefer to focus on things that help them escape facing responsibility for their lives, such as television, romance novels and chat rooms. While these activities can be wonderful when used for recreation, entertainment, inspiration or developing friendships, they can be damaging when used to avoid making decisions and taking action on your life.
When you feel overwhelmed by conflict or by having too much to do, or when you feel that your life is empty and meaningless, trying to “lose” yourself in a book, soap opera, movie or the Internet keeps you from having any time to “find” yourself. It keeps you from having time to remedy your situation by discovering your most important values and goals, and then actually striving for those goals. Losing yourself in the media allows you to always use, “I don’t have enough time!” as an excuse for dropping your responsibility and letting your life slip away.
When you get “lost” in the media, you never achieve your goals or your dreams because you are too busy watching the show, instead of creating and directing your own show! You get all wrapped up in the goals and dreams of fictional characters and ignore the goals and dreams you have for your own real life.
3. Living Through Other People
One of the most common ways for a married woman to escape responsibility for her own life is to replace her goals and dreams with the goals and dreams of her husband or children. She can try to run their lives by aggressively pressing them to accomplish their goals, or she can let them run her life by being their submissive servant. Either way she avoids having to choose her own values, go after her own goals, and make her own dreams come true.
When my girlfriend graduated from high school, her mother announced that she felt she was no longer needed and no longer had anything to live for. My girlfriend was stunned to learn that her mother’s only value, purpose and goal in life was to raise her four children. She thought her mother would look forward to undertaking new adventures as well as enjoy an ongoing friendship with her children. But my girlfriend’s mother had been “living through her children,” without any goals of her own. She was willing to shoulder responsibility for the lives of her children, but not for her own life!
Letting other people run your life, or trying to run other people’s lives, can seem far more safe than trying to run your own life. Other people’s goals give you direction without responsibility. You remain a helper and a sidekick for somebody else’s life, and never become the star of your own life. You might be too afraid or too lazy to become the star of your own life, or you might think that it’s wrong to become the star of your own life. Either way, you are trying to escape your responsibility for the actions that you take and for the consequences of those actions.
The Danger Of Not Taking Responsibility For Your Life
When you try to live through other people, you leave the direction of your life up to other people. You let life “happen” to you instead of deciding for yourself how you want your life to go and then making things happen according to your own vision. You become, in effect, a non-person.
When you are too afraid, or too lazy, or when you consider it too selfish to take charge of your own life, you end up selflessly ignoring your life and putting yourself in harm’s way. Shirking your responsibility for your one precious life amounts to throwing your life away to chance or other people’s say-so. When you try to blame others, escape into media, or live through other people, you are refusing to see yourself as the cause of your actions and their consequences. This makes it impossible to pursue your dreams or go after your goals.
Avoid The Mistake Of Not Taking Responsibility For Your Life
You can avoid the mistake of not taking responsibility for your life by discovering a healthy Recipe For Living. Taking responsibility for your life is the only way you can be in charge of your life and feel truly alive… and make your dreams come true.