for the next moment,”—Oprah
By Jennifer Blanchard
Personal responsibility is the responsibility you have to yourself. It’s your ability to keep yourself healthy, manage your emotions, be respectful to yourself, stay positive, etc.
So what does accepting personal responsibility mean?
- Acknowledging that you are responsible for your life—the choices you make, the things you feel, the things you think. You choose how your life goes.
- Accepting that other people and outside factors, such as your favorite TV show being on or there being dishes in your sink, are not to blame for the choices you made/make.
- Pointing your finger at yourself when you think about the consequences of your actions/choices.
For example, if you come home from work fully intending to write for two hours, but then get side-tracked talking to your sister on the phone and don’t end up writing, you can’t blame your sister for you not getting your writing done. You need to accept that it was your choice to talk to your sister, rather than to tell her you’d call her back after you finished writing.
What Happens When You Don’t Take Responsibility for Your Actions?
- You believe that outside factors cause you not to be able to write.
- You think, “Life would just be easier if ______.”
- You often feel guilty for not writing.
- You wish you were more productive, wrote more often or had more time.
- You often think, “At the rate I’m going, I should give up writing altogether.”
- You often fear taking any risks, such as showing your writing to someone or entering a writing competition (or in extreme cases, writing at all!).
- You often think of yourself as a victim of circumstance.
- You often feel like a victim of circumstance.
The first thing you should know is this—you are not a victim of circumstance. There are no outside factors that cause you not to be able to write.
You do not write (or you write very little) currently because writing is not important to you.
OK, so that probably sounded a bit harsh. But regardless, it is a reality.
When something is important to you, you make time for it. When something really matters to you, you make time for it. When you really want to do something, you rearrange your day/life around it.
For example, you’re sitting at home one Wednesday evening watching your favorite TV show. You have dishes to do, laundry to start and you wanted to catch up on some work. Then your good friend calls and tells you he/she has tickets to see your favorite band play tonight. Even though you have other things that you need to do, you decide to instead record it and go to the concert.
You made a choice. Because seeing your favorite band play was important to you, you made all the other things you had to do less of a priority.
It works the same way with your writing.
How to Accept Personal Responsibility
If you’re ready to accept responsibility for your actions (or your non-actions), here are some steps to follow (Note—you may want to do this in your journal or writing notebook):
1) Reflect—Ask yourself the following: “What does accepting responsibility for my actions/thoughts mean for me?” “How frequently do I place blame on people or circumstances for why I don’t/can’t write?” “Why do I feel like a victim of my circumstances?”
2) Rate—Once you’ve reflected on your situation with personal responsibility, rate yourself.
On a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 = never, 2 = rarely, 3 = sometimes, 4 = often and 5 = all the time—rate the following statements:
___ I take the time to fit writing into my schedule.
___ I make plans to write.
___ I sit down and write.
___ I get writing accomplished.
___ I manage my time well.
___ I skip my writing sessions.
___ I place blame on outside factors.
If you rated yourself 3 or less on any of the above, that is an area where you need to accept your personal responsibility.
3) Accept—There are areas of your writing life where you aren’t taking personal responsibility.
At first, the thought of accepting personal responsibility may cause the following reactions:
- Anger—“It’s not my fault! Life just gets crazy and there’s no time to write.”
- Guilt—“You’re totally right. It is my fault. I’m such as mess. I can’t do this.
- Sadness—“Wow. All these years I haven’t been taking responsibility for myself and now I’ve wasted so much time. I could’ve had ten books written by now.”
Just know that these feelings are temporary. There is light at the other side of the tunnel.
4) Plan—You need to identify what beliefs you currently hold that keep you from achieving your writing goals.
For example, do you believe that you are not in control of your life? Do you believe that life just happens? Do you believe that you can’t change your habits? Do you believe that you will always be the same way you are currently?
Challenging your beliefs about what you can and can’t control will help you to start accepting personal responsibility.
You can’t control outside circumstances—that’s a given. But you CAN control your actions and thoughts.
And if you can control your thoughts and actions, you are in control of your life.
Ed. Note: This is part two in a three-part series on Making Writing a Priority that I’ll be running until tomorrow. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss tomorrow’s post: What Do You Want to Achieve? And if you missed part one: What Are You Losing By Procrastinating? be sure to read it.