It’s Up To You

To achieve your maximum potential, it’s up to you to take ownership of your life. This means assuming responsibility for who you are and what you do. But, as straightforward as this might sound, most of us struggle with owning up to the personal responsibilities that are required to effectively manage the outcomes of our mental, physical, and financial well-being. We find it all too easy to become complacent by relinquishing control of our circumstances to other people and things. Despite the repercussions, we sometimes opt to settle for our excuses instead of taking charge of our health and happiness.

Here are the sorts of excuses people make to deflect responsibility.

“I didn’t get the job promotion because of politics.”

“My life is too hectic to find time for exercise.”

“I can’t lose weight because of my slow metabolism”

“I have too many expenses to save money.”

“I am late to work because of traffic.”

To enjoy a more productive and meaningful future, take ownership of your life with these simple strategies:

Understand yourself.  Begin your quest for self-improvement by getting a handle on what makes you tick. In which situations are you more likely to take responsibility for your actions?  Identify when you tend to make excuses or deflect the blame onto others. Keep your responses in mind as you plan out a reasonable course of action to become a better version of yourself.

Hold yourself accountable.  At times, you will be confronted with bad things caused by external factors. Examples of this might include experiencing a natural disaster, suffering a loss of a loved one, or being a victim to identity theft.  While you might not have control over the cause, you do have control over how you respond. Do not be handicapped by the adversity. Stay positive and look for creative solutions to maneuver through it.

Halt pointing the blame.  Creating excuses is a way to justify your actions without assuming the blame. In doing so, you give up not only your control but the motivation to alter or improve your circumstances. If your “excuse” for being overweight is your “family genes,” you will continue to eat poorly and gain weight. In your mind, you shoulder no blame. In reality, you do and will most likely experience dire consequences for it, including greater risk of high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, and gallbladder disease.

Stop the complaints.  People complain as a way to express dissatisfaction or annoyance about something. However, it can also be used to justify poor performance, alleviate responsibility, or create a victim mentality. Chronic complaining will have a negative impact on your personal growth. In the wake of an unfortunate situation, it can add fuel to the fire by making you feel powerless and unable to solve or cope with it.

Don’t make it personal. Taking things personally is a reflection of your own insecurity. It erodes your sense of self by causing you to feel frustrated, regretful, or inadequate. You start losing control when you assume everything is about you. To get yourself back on track, realize that you can’t control how others treat you, but you can control how you react. Turn these interactions with others into opportunities for self-realization instead of taking them as personal attacks.

Focus on eliminating problems.  Confront your challenges rather than assume a defeatist attitude or deny culpability. Identify what is facing you and spend time pondering your different options.  Be willing to ask others for their advice but understand no one can do it for you. Problems may seem overwhelming, so, instead of stressing out, break each one down into smaller, more doable pieces.  There are always lessons to learn within each problem, so find and use them as future benefits.

Keep the momentum going. There is no instant cure when it comes to modifying unhealthy habits that took years to develop. To assume greater control over your life, be prepared to make it an ongoing process. It will require you to make tough choices and changes, so do not get discouraged when you find yourself taking two steps forward and one step back. You are still moving forward to the change you wish to achieve.

Always remember…This is your life, and it is up to you to make it one worth living.

Written by: Patricia K. Flanigan, Smart Strategies for Successful Living

Patricia K. Flanigan has worked in higher education for over 28 years. She holds a doctoral degree in Organizational Leadership from the University of La Verne as well as a M.A.  in Latin American Studies and B.A. in Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Before retiring and moving to Idaho in 2015, she served as the dean of online education and learning resources at Saddleback College in Southern California.

She currently consults in higher education, volunteers for AARP, writes for a local magazine, and serves as an Affiliate Faculty member for BSU.  Since February 2017, she has been the founding director for Smart Strategies for Successful Living, a community-based website designed to promote quality aging.  As an educator, her focus is to inspire others to live and age well.