Personal responsibility simply means that you are consciously taking control of how you respond to the circumstances or events that are occurring in your life. It is you who is responsible for you, your thoughts, actions, and behaviors. That isn’t always nice to hear, but it truly is in your hands with regards to what you do in life.
That doesn’t mean that things won’t happen to you, things that you don’t have control over. This is something that happens to all of us, life doesn’t just toss you lemons, sometimes it puts a curve on them. Regardless, it’s how you react to those curve balls that is in your hands. Your response is all you.
You might want to cast blame off onto someone else, or share responsibility (*). The truth, though, is that even if you try to share the responsibility, it doesn’t take it away from your role in the event or situation. The only thing it takes form you is control over your words and actions.
You can’t continue to make excuses for your mistakes or inactivity. You may think it’s an effective path – you might even start to believe that you are blameless in all of these situations. However, you’re only fooling yourself.
The change that needs to take place in this situation is our view of responsibility. For some reason, we have grown to believe that shifting blame is the correct course of action. That, by blaming others, we absolve ourselves and come out looking like a winner.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, casting blame everywhere but on your front door will only affect how others view you. There’s nothing negative about putting your hand up and saying, it was me. There is a liberation in taking responsibility for yourself.
In fact, there are plenty of benefits that come with accepting personal responsibility for your life. Here are 25 of them.
25 Ways Personal Responsibility Will Improve Your Life
1. Total Freedom
How can you find freedom in taking responsibility? When you come to accept that you are the architect of your life, it opens your eyes to just how much control you hold over every aspect of your life. You suddenly understand that you are free to create the life that you want to live and lead. It comes with an understanding that, no matter what external circumstances that come your way, you hold the power over your goals and achievements. It’s up to you to overcome the obstacles, rather than letting them continually derail you. The foundation of your freedom lies in personal responsibility.
Have you ever worked with someone who was completely unable to own up to their mistakes? If you work in a team and make a mistake, you will earn a lot of respect when you own that mistake. They’re more likely to buy into what else you have to say because they know you own everything you do. With that respect comes trust. It’s not easy to take that initial hit, however, when you do stand up and take responsibility it helps you build a strong reputation. The focus then shifts from the mistake and becomes more about your good character.
3. A Reduction In The Negative
Negative emotions can wreak havoc on your life, physically and emotionally. Failure to accept responsibility can breed more of these negative emotions. Just the process of finding someone to blame will lead to anger that you aim at that person. That resentment that you feel toward them will probably leave you feeling ashamed. You might spend a lot of time trying to convince yourself that you’re the victim in the situation, but deep down you know the blame lies with you. This will just fuel negativity in your life. One of the biggest issues with refusing responsibility is that you feel powerless. Feeling as though you have no control over your life will only lead to more anxiety, and possibly depression.
4. Feeling Accomplished
What is more empowering than achieving something that you want to do? When you push yourself, put in the effort, and take responsibility, you cannot beat the feeling of finally reaching your goal.
Without responsibility there will be no growth. If you look to others to get you out of trouble, if you can’t do anything for yourself, and always rely on others, then you’re not growing as a person. You are constantly the passenger in the vehicle that is your own life. We all want to feel as though we’re in control of our lives, yet so many of us are happy to play co-pilot to someone else. Why? When it came to literally driving a vehicle, didn’t you race to the DMV to get your license as soon as possible? Once you started driving yourself, you hated having to sit in any other seat of the car, didn’t you? Your life is that car, so what seat are you sitting in? The only place where growth can be found is if you are behind the wheel.
If you start taking responsibility for your life, you will suddenly see that you are fully independent. You don’t need to rely on others, you don’t need help to get what you want. That doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help or give help to others. It just means that you know how to progress without constantly turning to others for assistance. You can find guidance in others, but ultimately, it’s all down to you.
In a perfect world, we are able to strike the perfect balance between giving and taking. Unfortunately, many people set themselves up to constantly take. However, with responsibility comes a shift. The shift is that you are more focused on giving. It isn’t about getting something in return either, it’s about you making an impact on the world. You don’t have to change the world, but your actions start to benefit others and as such, you leave a footprint on the planet. Ultimately, this is beneficial to you as a human being.
We all have a purpose, sadly, some of us just don’t seem to be able to figure out what it is. Part of the problem is that we avoid taking personal responsibility. We’re so caught up in distractions that we don’t invest the time and effort that is necessary to discover our true purpose in life. To determine your purpose, you must want to, you must do what is necessary to get there. That, my friends, requires personal responsibility. When you start to take personal responsibility, you start to get to know yourself better, and in that getting to know you process you will get to the root of your purpose.
We already mentioned the trust and respect that comes from others when you start to take personal responsibility. Likewise, it helps increase your self-respect. You start to feel great about yourself, and not just sometimes – consistently. When you consistently experience self-respect, it’s only natural for your confidence to grow. These are two things that will impact your overall health and happiness. They don’t just feed your mental wellness, it also contributes to a healthy overall being and makes you more content in life. Nothing seems impossible because you are confident enough to chase anything and put yourself out there.
One of the ways to move forward in your responsibility is making goals, creating lists, and working towards something. When you do this you automatically become a more productive person. A list might sound like small stuff, but it’s just part of the accountability process. When you take responsibility for yourself, you are focused on progress. That progress feeds your productiveness. It also plays into the boost in morale it provides everyone else. A productive environment is uplifting, and it shows.
What kind of power? The power to make changes. You can start to identify what type of action you need to take, as well as what you would like to do. This can all go on your list. Once you have identified what you want, you can make a plan to get there. It’s about identifying what actions and behaviors you can adjust to make positive changes. How can you grab the bull by the horns and move forward if you are unable to take responsibility for your words and deeds?
12. No More Blaming
The moment you start to take personal responsibility is the moment that you stop looking to blame everyone or anything else for your circumstance. Really, you will come to learn that it doesn’t matter who was at fault. The important part is determining what happened and how you should respond to it. Blame is a trap, and it provides you with a cop-out to avoid taking responsibility. So, by taking responsibility you will find that you move forward easily. It really all comes down to ego. By feeding your ego, though, you are sapping your own control.
13. No More Excuses
This is a lot like blaming other people, except when you make excuses you are looking to blame a circumstance, rather than a person. There’s a good chance you have sat down and made a list of goals. You might not have come up with your excuses out loud, but there’s a good chance you concocted a variety of excuses, just in case you didn’t achieve your goals. Take a moment to consider your current set of goals. When you think of a goal does an excuse also come into your mind? Personal responsibility eradicates the need for excuses. Instead, you search for solutions and methods that will help you succeed. It’s about positivity over negativity. Don’t take the easy way out.
14. No Longer The Victim
When you spend all of your time making excuses for failure and blaming others for your shortcomings, you frame yourself as the victim. With that framing, you maintain a mentality that you are always unlucky, unfortunate or, someone is preventing you from achieving success. This is just an exercise in handing control of your life over to others. In taking personal responsibility, you no longer frame yourself as the victim.
You take back control of your life. We all know someone who casts themselves in the victim role constantly. It’s exhausting to watch, so just imagine how much more exhausting it is to live your life without accepting that you have control over it.
15. Less Complaining
If you complain, we don’t want you to feel bad about it. However, if you find yourself constantly complaining, you are too busy focusing on what is going wrong. You are rooting everything in the negative. This merely amplifies all of the bad things and makes it seem much worse than it really is. Which is just going to distract you from the positive parts of your life. It’s easy for it to become a habit, and that can complicate your situation. Whereas, accepting personal responsibility changes how you frame a situation. Instead of being laser focused on the negative, you will instead look at the positive. Which means that the negative aspects become challenges for you to overcome, rather than bogging you down.
Being a teachable person is something that employers like. Personal responsibility doesn’t just make you more likely to own up to mistake. You’re also more likely to admit that you don’t understand (or know) something. When you’re not afraid to be open and honest, you immediately become a more coachable subject. For anyone who is looking to climb the corporate ladder, being teachable is important. It’s something that management notices and it’s something that they look for. They don’t want someone who claims to know it all because eventually it becomes clear that it isn’t true.
We already briefly mentioned trust when we discussed respect earlier. However, being trustworthy is important enough to have its own section. It plays into your relationship with others. You win as a team and you fail as a team. It’s important for the people around you to know that you’re not going to throw them under the bus if you fail or fall short. This will help foster a profound trust with the people that you work with. Of course, it’s something that will positively your personal relationships positively. The ability to work through your problems without casting blame on others is a key component of healthy relationships.
18. Personal Growth
There is a dignity, a certain level of courage that comes with taking personal responsibility. You will realize quickly how much you have grown as a person. It isn’t just about holding your hands up and saying, okay, I dropped the ball. It’s also about understanding where you went wrong and how you can change it for next time in a bid to do and be better. Whether it’s the need to speak to others to evaluate certain decisions or you need to take your research deeper, it’s growth.
Some people count their perfectionism as a strength. However, there is strength in weakness. We count on our leaders to role model the behaviors that are expected of us. A leader who is driven by perfectionism negatively affects the rest of the team. However, a leader who can admit to a mistake shows others that there is something different about this place. It encourages them to also take personal responsibility for outcomes and their actions. This creates a healthy culture in the workplace and improves morale and productivity. The ability to take personal responsibility makes you a strong leader, whether you’re in that type of position to or not. It’s so important for people to realize that failure doesn’t spell the end of the world.
Every situation that you experience comes with a choice. It is your choice how you respond to a situation or circumstance. With personal responsibility, you understand that you have a choice and you are motivated to make positive choices rather than to focus on negative situations. There’s something quite freeing just in the knowledge that you have a choice. It’s even better when you come to realize that you have the power and the tools to make the right choice in any and every situation that you face.
21. No Fear
One of the biggest reasons for a failure to progress is a fear of failure. The thing we fear about failure is owning up to it. So, by taking responsibility you lose that fear of failure, which means you are more likely to take calculated risks. You don’t have to let fear stop you from taking a chance. Do you know what you should find scarier than failure? Missing out on an incredible opportunity.
With an acceptance of responsibility comes an acceptance of your circumstances. Who you are now is who you made yourself. If you aren’t happy with who you are, then you may need to look at your ability to take personal responsibility. Your actions, your thoughts… they are all your own. You may have been influenced by the people in your life or by external circumstances, however, it comes down to you to make the appropriate action. Part of taking responsibility is accepting who you are, understanding it was you who led you to this point, and then determining what you will do to make the changes you want to see.
23. No Need For External Validation
We already mentioned that your ability to take responsibility will make you a more trustworthy and respected person. However, that isn’t why you should take responsibility, that’s just a happy by-product. You don’t need to rely on others for validation, you can find validation within yourself. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying validation for others, it’s just that your happiness doesn’t depend on it.
We all make mistakes. Personal responsibility allows you the space and freedom to forgive yourself for the mistakes and failures that you experience. Additionally, it allows you to show that same kindness to others who may have made a mistake. Just like you shouldn’t beat yourself up for mistakes or failures, neither should you beat others up for their shortcomings. Holding onto that blame or grudge will shift your focus away from your responsibility. While you aren’t responsible for others, you are responsible for how you react to them.
25. You’re Different
Taking personal responsibility makes you a different person. Not only a different person than you were before but also different than others. People sit up and take notice when someone owns their mistakes. It’s a rarity, so it won’t go unnoticed by the people around you. The difference you will experience will be a gradual one as you grow and change as a person. However, it won’t be missed by the people around you.
The act of taking responsibility for your actions and life isn’t easy. It’s a challenge that will continue throughout your life. It isn’t a case of one and done, this is something that you will need to actively work on for the rest of your life. However, if you want to experience true contentment, this is something you will commit to.
If you are all about living an authentic life, then it starts with taking responsibility. It’s impossible to be your best self if you cannot take responsibility. It’s impossible for you to affect external circumstances. You can’t change others, just like you can’t control the weather.
However, you are not powerless unless you render yourself so. You have control over you, your words, behaviors, and actions. Whether it’s good or bad, you have to own your performance and who you are. It all starts with you. You are the tree, and your words, actions, thoughts, and performance are the branches, leaves, and fruit/flowers that stem from it. So, what type of fruit are you producing?