One of the first self-improvement books that I ever read was Jack Canfield’s The Success Principles. To say this book changed my life is an understatement. Reading this launched my interest in improvement and really laid a foundation for improvement that still impacts me today.
In the first chapter he talks about taking responsibility. He says “One of the most pervasive myths in the American culture today is that we are entitled to a great life – that somehow, somewhere, someone (certainly not us) is responsible for filling our lives with continual happiness, exciting career options, nurturing family time, and blissful personal relationships simply because we exist.”
Prior to reading this book and my subsequent quest for improvement, this described me. But I didn’t realize it. Instead I was biased and assumed what I did was right and when things went wrong or not the way I envisioned it must be someone else’s fault. I was completely defensive over my weaknesses or mistakes. But that didn’t help me improve. It detracted from where I needed to improve.
He goes on to say that there is really only one person responsible for your life. That person is you. In order to improve you have to realize this and take 100% responsibility for everything in your life.
But this is extremely difficult. The reality is that there are always numerous variables interacting together. The world is a series of complex systems that are all intertwined. Add in the fact there is randomness and luck that impacts all of us and it is much easier to think we are right and some other factor must be causing any unhappiness or struggle in life.
We can usually see this right away in others. We can see why our friend can’t seem to find a good job or why so-and-so can’t manage their money. But when it is us, for some reason we can find every reason why it isn’t really our fault.
I still find myself feeling this way on occasion. But times when I feel this way are the times when I am not really growing and improving. This also changes my perspective and makes me feel that I have less control over my future.
But by taking 100% responsibility for our lives, that means that we have control over the future. If everything we did and every choice we made led to where we are, then the choices we make and the things we do going forward will lead us towards our future self.
This is very empowering but can also be overwhelming. That is why I always suggest starting small and improving the habits in your life. This is much more doable and will lead to long-term improvement.
This will help you take responsibility for your life because you will start to see the incredible impact our daily routines, habits and thought-processes have on our lives. You will see that those extra 10 lbs are not because of a family member’s insistence on making delicious baked goods or the fact that you are busy. Those may be factors but the real reason is you. The choices you make, your level of daily activity, your interests, etc.
If you find that you are not where you want to be or not heading towards the success you know you deserve, then take 100% responsibility for where you are and put in place new habits to get where you want to be. This will help to avoid the defensiveness that gets in the way of improvement and give you the tools needed to reach your goals.