I know that you have often heard from the gurus, “You have to take full responsibility for your life”, but what does that mean exactly?

Well, if you want to be successful, taking responsibility for your life is the kind of attitude you must adopt.

It is the fundamental principle you must commit in order to achieve greater success and have more happiness in both your life and work.

When something is not happening according to your plan, what do you do? For most people, they blame, they complain, and they make excuses that it was not their fault.

In other words, they are giving away the power to change.

You see, when you take responsibility, what happens is that you are taking control of your life too.

One of the books that best explained this principle is none other than Jack Canfield’s best-selling book, The Success Principles. (I strongly recommend you read the book)

In fact, Jack Canfield dedicated an entire chapter just to talk about “taking responsibility for your life”.

He said it in the book that none of the other success principles he shared will work unless you follow the first rule, which is to take 100% responsibility for your life.

Think about it, if you are in business, but your business is bad, are you going to blame the economy or the competition?

If you believe that your business is bad because of the economy, then guess what, there is nothing you can do about it. What can you do to change the economy? Nothing.

But what if you take 100% responsibility and believe that your business is bad because of you? If you are the one who cause the situation, then you are able to change it.

You can invest more into marketing and promotion, create incentives to boost sales, implement better management, and improve your services.

In other words, you can do things to change and improve the situation. Rather than blaming and doing nothing, when you take full responsibility, you can change turn the situation around.

Why Taking Responsibility Is Important

So, what is the meaning of taking full responsibility for your life?

Taking 100% responsibility means that you acknowledge that you are the one who creates everything that happens to you.

It simply means that you understand that you are the cause of all the things that are happening to you.

And if you want to be extremely successful, you must take full responsibility and that means giving away all the blames, the excuses, and the complains.

When you do, you become in charge of your life.

Here’s a good example from the book:

“You work late every night. You come home tired and burned out. You eat dinner in a coma and then sit down in front of the television to watch a basketball game. You’re too tired and stressed out to do anything else—like go for a walk or play with the kids.

This goes on for years. Your wife asks you to talk to her. You say, “Later!” Three years later, you come home to an empty house and a note that she has left you and have taken the kids. You created that one, too!”

From The Success Principles, best-selling book by Jack Canfield
the success principles
This book will change your life. Get it now from Amazon.

Taking responsibility allows you to be in charge of your life.

And because you are the one who creates the results you get in your life, you can change the results if you want to.

Meaning, you can control your life. You are the captain and the master, not the servant who just obeys.

Thus, you can create both your successes and failures.

This, my friend, is the fundamental principle of success.

Therefore, learn to take 100% responsibility for your life from now on. If you don’t, there is no way you can change your results, and hence, your life.

Here are 10 great ways how you can learn to take responsibility for your life, starting from this moment on.

1. Realize that You Are the One Creating Your Results

The first thing you need to do when it comes to taking responsibility is to realize that you are the one who creates the results in your life.

It is the Law of Cause and Effect at work.

Imagine you are in sales and your boss gives you a $300 bonus. What do you do with the money?

For instance, you can choose to spend the money to buy something you like or you can choose to invest the money in your portfolio to increase your net worth.

Whatever you do is totally up to you, but please realize that you are in control of the outcome.

When you spend the money, you don’t have it anymore. You end up broke. That’s the result you get.

On the other hand, if you choose to invest the money, you will have an increased net worth.

The event is the same, but what you do with the extra $300 bonus will make all the difference.

There is a cause for everything in life. And you get to decide how you want the results to be.

You may be born in a poor family, but that doesn’t mean that you should choose to be living in poverty for the rest of your life.

You can take 100% responsibility and make a change. This is your life and you get to choose to live the way you want to. You are always in charge, my friend.

Takeaway:

Understand and acknowledge that you are the one who creates your life. Whatever that happens in your life, you are directly or indirectly creating it. So, if you want to live a better and more successful life, take responsibility and make a change.

2. Stop Playing the Blame Game

Next, to take full responsibility, you must stop blaming. When something doesn’t happen according to your plan, do not blame. Instead, choose to accept the responsibility and then make a change.

You see, when you blame, you are giving away the power to control and to make a change.

For instance, if your boss decides to promote someone else but not you, and all you do is to put blame on that person, then there is nothing you can do to change the situation.

You see, you certainly can’t change other people, but you can always take responsibility and change yourself.

When the Gulf War broke out, Lexus, the automaker faced a difficult situation because people stopped visiting the showroom.

They can choose to blame the war or the economy and just wait for things to get better, but they didn’t. They decided to drive their new cars to where the rich people were – the country clubs, polo grounds, and parties in a high-end location like the Beverly Hills.

They then invite those rich people to take a test drive in the new Lexus. Guess what, their sales increased, even during when the economy was weak.

So don’t play the blame game – the weather is not in your favor, things are too difficult, the competition is tough, or that your boss or colleagues or partners are lousy – instead, take full responsibility for everything in your life.

Takeaway:

Don’t blame or complain. Choose to take full responsibility and ask yourself what you can do to improve or change the situation. If you can’t change the situation, then change yourself.

3. Don’t Make Lousy Excuses

Besides blaming or complaining, you need to also stop making excuses.

Think about it, have you ever said these:

  • “I don’t have time.”
  • “I don’t have enough money.”
  • “I can’t because I have kids.”
  • “I don’t have an education.”
  • “I don’t know how to do it.”
  • “I can’t change because this is who I am.”
  • “I always have bad luck.”
  • Etc.

These are some of the common excuses that people often make.

Have you ever heard successful people say that they don’t have the capital to start a business, and because of that, they give up on their ideas? No, not at all! Extraordinary people are successful because they take full responsibility and they don’t make excuses.

They will find ways to come up with the capital. They look for venture capitalists for investment. They walk to the bank and try to get a loan. They won’t say that they don’t have the money because they don’t take it as an excuse.

What about you? Do you always make these lousy excuses?

If you do, you’d better change right now. Stop making excuses and start taking responsibility and tell yourself that you are in control.

I love this quote from the movie, The Wolf of Wall Street:

The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.

Takeaway:

It is easy to make excuses, but it will NOT get you what you want in life. The only way to get what the results you want in life is to take full responsibility and don’t make excuses.

Here’s a good article about eliminating your excuses, you should read it:
Are You Living a Life of Endless Excuses? Here’s How to Stop!

4. Learn to Live in the Moment

To be fully aware that you are in control and that you have the power to change your life, you must be living in the moment. Not the past, not the future, but in the now.

There is a saying that I like very much from my favorite movie, Kung Fu Panda:

Yesterday was history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why they called it the present.

Kung Fu Panda Quotes

You will never know what is going to happen in the future. You don’t have the crystal ball. And so all you can do is to make the best of this moment to create a better future that you want.

Choose your feeling and thoughts carefully by being in the moment. When you are aware of your present moment, you can make a conscious choice that will lead you to take responsibility for your life.

So how do you live in the moment? Here’s a good guide from Becoming Minimalist. Read it.

Be the gatekeeper of your thoughts and refuse to have a rerun of the same 60,000 thoughts of yesterday if they do not get you what you want in life.

Paulo Coelho

Takeaway:

If you want to take responsibility, you must be aware of your thoughts and emotions. And to be conscious, you must learn to be in the moment. Live in the present, my friend.

5. Don’t Take Things Personally

One of the best ways to take full responsibility for whatever that is happening to you is to never take things personally.

When a car overtakes you, it doesn’t mean anything at all. You don’t have to get angry or lose your mind or try to chase the car.

When someone rejects your idea, don’t take it personally. Perhaps, the person doesn’t need the product or doesn’t fully understand you yet.

When you take things personally, you lose yourself in your thoughts. And this is when you start to blame, complain, and make lousy excuses.

If you try to build a website but you stuck halfway because you don’t know how to do it, don’t take it personally. It doesn’t mean that you are not good. It just means that you don’t know how to do it and you need to learn it.

And guess what, you can always learn how to do it. It all depends on whether if you want to do it.

If you are serious in what you do, you will always find a way. If you don’t, you will find an excuse.

This is why you should not take everything personally. Especially if you want to be a successful entrepreneur.

This is because being an entrepreneur means you need to try new things, to venture out of your comfort zone, to take massive action, and to experience failures without losing enthusiasm.

Here’s an article from Forbes that teaches you how to stop taking things personally. Check it out.

Takeaway:

Learn to NOT take things personally. Most of the time, it is not about you, it is about the event or the matter at hand. When you think this way, it liberates you to take responsibility for your life.

6. Apply the Formula: E + R = O

I learned this formula from Jack Canfield. He said that Event (E) + Response (R) = Outcome (O).

It doesn’t matter what happens, the key is how you react. Your response is what makes all the difference.

Basically, there are only 2 choices you make in life:

  1. You choose to blame the event for your lack of results. You can blame the economy, the weather, your lack of education, your parents, your government, your colleagues, your company, etc. But if you do that, you will lose all the control you have.
  2. Change your response to the event. This is what successful people choose to do. Successful people say, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can change my sail to reach my destination.”

If you don’t like what you get in your life right now, just change your responses. You can make a difference by changing yourself.

You will never become successful as long as you continue to choose to blame, make excuses, and complain.

Until you change your responses and your actions, everything will stay the same.

Remember this: it is you who took the actions, thought the thoughts, created the feelings, and made the choices that got you to where you now are. It was you!

In short, you thought the thoughts, you created the feelings, you made the choice, you said the words, and that is why you are where you are now.

When you understand the formula of E + R = O, you know that the control is in you.

You can change the outcomes, the results, and ultimately, your life by changing the way you think and act.

Takeaway:

Always remind yourself that you are the one who creates the results. You are the one who takes the actions and gets to where you are now. And if you don’t feel satisfied with where you are now, you can make a change. Change your response and you will get a different outcome.

7. Give It Your Best

If you want to take full responsibility for your life, you must give it your best. If you don’t, you are doing yourself a disservice.

For most people, when they set a goal and commit to achieving something, they don’t give their all. They often make excuses and avoid doing difficult tasks.

  • They choose to watch TV rather than hitting the gym.
  • They choose to watch YouTube and not pursuing their goals.
  • They choose to play games rather than working on their websites.

If this is happening to you, you’re not taking full responsibility for yourself.

When you commit to something, give it your all. Don’t do things in a half-hearted manner. Don’t just say that you want something but you don’t do it. Say it and mean it.

A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.

Tony Robbins

Thus, if you are not taking action or if you are not putting in your full effort, you are cheating yourself by conserving your potential.

Hence, go all out and give it your best.

If you’re not going to do it with your all, why do at all?

Takeaway:

No matter what project, target, or goal you are pursuing, understand that it is either you do or you do not. And if you choose to do it, be fully committed, and do it with your best. Responsible people are people who give it their best. And that is why they are successful.

8. Becoming an Optimist

You are not taking full responsibility for your life if all you think about are negative thoughts. Be an optimist. Learn to think positively every day.

Do you know that thinking positively will affect the possibilities in your life? Read my previous article:

The #1 Benefit Of Positive Thinking According To Research

Negative thinking stops you from doing your best. If you start a business, but all you think about are negative things like how your competition is going to put you out of business, you will never thrive.

If you want to take charge of your life, you must begin first by thinking positively. Although that thinking positively may not guarantee your success, doing so will make you achieve more and perform better.

And when you feel better, you will do and perform better. Which is why positive thinking greatly increases your odds of success.

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.

Helen Keller

And she was so right. How can you live a positive life when you are thinking negatively? Everything starts with your thinking. It is how you think that will determine how you live.

Therefore, take responsibility for your life; start by thinking positive thoughts.

I do understand that sometimes things can happen and things can be out of your control. But understand that every day may not be good, but there is good in every day.

Your mission to staying positive is to search for the positive.

Takeaway:

Positive thinking is one of the most essential keys to living a better and more successful life. Most people are being too reactive to whatever is happening around them. They feel sad or angry or are emotionally affected by the things that happened to them.

You don’t have to let your emotions control your life. Instead, take responsibility and take charge of your emotions. And it starts with mastering your thoughts. Always choose to look at things from a brighter side, my friend.

Read: Top 10 Positive Attitudes and Behaviors Your Need to Succeed

9. Understand that You Always Have a Choice

Yes, you always have a choice. You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequences of your choice.

People often think that they don’t have a choice and that they are destined to be poor or to work for someone else. But the fact is far from the truth.

You can be born in a poor family but that doesn’t mean that you need to continue to live in poverty. You can take charge of your life and make something out of your life.

When life gives you lemons, you can choose to make lemonade.

You are not stuck. You just fail to see the better options and solutions that are currently available to you.

If you don’t like how things are, change it! You’re not a tree.

So choose to make a change, for the better. Plus, things may not always stay the same. Things will change. Life will change.

And guess what, you too, can make a change if you want to. But first, you must realize that you have the ability to choose. And that changes start with you.

You are given with choices. And how you make the choices are how your life will be.

Takeaway:

You always have a choice. And if you don’t like where you are or the results you have right now, you can often make a change.

Here’s an insightful article from HuffingtonPost on how to make the right decisions in life. You should read it.

10. Change Your Perception

Rather than thinking that life just happens, change your perception and think that life is happening according to your terms.

George Bernard Shaw, the Nobel Prize winner for Literature in 1925 once said these words:

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

This is a very powerful quote. It can be life-changing. So, read it at least 3 times. 🙂

The reasonable men, the average people, and the ordinary adapts himself to the world. They believe that they need to go to school because everyone did. They work on a job because that’s what everyone in the world did. So, they adapt themselves to the world.

On the other hand, unreasonable men or extraordinary people have a totally different perspective. They want to adapt the world to them, and not the other way round.

And hence, every great achievement in this world was created by extraordinary people who want to adapt the world to themselves.

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses,” said Henry Ford. If you want to take control of your life, you must change your perception.

It is only when your perception changed, things around you will change.

This is because everything you see or hear or experience is a perception that you created. This is why one person can see the glass as half-empty and another person can see it as half-full.

Thus, look at the world and your life as you are the one in control. You are the master. You created your own life.

It is your perceptions that shape your life.

And when you take responsibility, you are giving yourself the ability to create the life you desire base on your own perceptions.

Takeaway:

Change your perception from “life happens to you”, to “you create your own life”. When you do, you are liberated from everything that is holding you back. And that is when you can take full responsibility and live the life that you truly want.

Read: Four Ways Of Changing Your View Of Reality That Will Improve Your Life

Conclusion

Taking responsibility for your life is one of the most fundamental keys to success and living a great life.

No one can be successful by constantly making excuses and blaming everything in their lives.

You must learn to accept the responsibility for your actions, be accountable for your results, and take ownership of your mistakes and failures.

The moment you take 100% responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you can change anything in your life. It will also be the moment that you discover you are unstoppable.

Do you now know how to better take charge and be responsible for everything that happened in your life?

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I'm a blogger, writer, and also an internet entrepreneur. If you want to learn more about me, kindly go to the About page. By the way, have you downloaded your FREE copy of Reach Your Goals? Don't forget to do so. Cheers. :)

15 Comments

  1. Hi Shawn, thank you for another really well-thought-out and well-written article.

    I particularly like your formula: E + R = O, as it truly reflects what I’ve been gaining a better understanding of; which is the importance of focusing on things within our circle of control and proactively expanding it!

    I intend to write about this in the near future. 🙂 Thank you again, and I look forward to your next piece, Shawn.

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  6. Understanding that I always have a choice of accepting responsibility is empowering. I may not always like the results I produce but I know that as long as I take responsibility and keep trying, the results I want will happen eventually.

    Taking ownership sure as hell beats blaming others but it requires a tad of self-discipline and courage.

    Thanks for this comprehensive post on taking responsibility.

    Jeremiah

    • Shawn Lim Reply

      Hey Jeremiah, yes, taking responsibility is key to achievement. The moment we blame others or make excuses, we’re giving away the power to change. 🙂

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  8. Bhavisha Lukka Reply

    Thank you Shawn Lim for such a wonderful life learning skill

  9. Hello Shawn,

    Thank you for the entertainment.

    These are all things that are easy for you to say.
    You wouldn’t be going around preaching about responsibility if you had my problems.

    • Shawn Lim Reply

      Hi Akshay, yes, totally agreed. It is always easier said than done.
      And everyone has their own problems. Like Robert Kiyosaki said, “Failure inspires winners. Failure defeats losers.”
      It all depends on how you look at it 🙂
      Remember this, my friend:
      “For every reason it’s not possible, there are hundreds of people who have faced the same circumstances and succeeded.”
      I wish you good luck and all the best

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