Self-Responsibility in 2021: Is Life Happening To You Or For You?

Perhaps it’s a belabored point to make, but ever since COVID-19 hit, life has felt extra stressful for a lot of people. Between dealing with the unknown and wearing masks and wondering when everything will go back to “normal,” it’s justifiable that people feel lost. It makes sense to feel overwhelmed. But in this time of great uneasiness, it is also important to realize that there are certain circumstances in life that you do have control over. It’s also important to assess what you can do to change these circumstances. You can absolutely transform certain elements in your life so that you feel happier and more successful. It all depends on one thing: self-responsibility. 

Self-Responsibility: Taking the Wheel

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Self-responsibility: aka accountability. Self-responsibility means taking the wheel to your own life. It means owning up to your actions and seizing control of them. It means seeking your own happiness. It means changing the things that you can change if those things make you unhappy. It also comes down to your attitude.  

Is it hard to do? Yes, there is no doubt about it. Taking self-responsibility can be tough. But it can be done, and YOU CAN DO IT. The question to ask yourself is this: Is life happening to you or is life happening for you? It’s a deep question…one that many people contemplate but never really resolve. That’s because in order to get anything in life to happen for you, you may have to change, and change is never easy. It’s uncomfortable, and feeling uncomfortable isn’t fun. 

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Usually, instead of changing their circumstances, people start blaming others for the wrongs in their life. It’s not your fault, it’s theirs. You shouldn’t have to change, they should. People look to others for their own happiness. They look to material things to make them feel better. And they sit in that complicity because, honestly, taking ownership of one’s own circumstances is difficult. 

Then, blaming outside factors becomes a habit. And habits are incredibly hard to break. So how do you start making things happen for you instead of to you? How do you start taking self-responsibility by the wheel? First, you must realize that changing certain circumstances is within your abilities. Now, take the wheel and start driving toward what you want.  

Perspectives on Life: Hard Habits to Break

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Over time, people establish their own perspectives on life. Then these perspectives become habits to fall back on, and those attitudes begin to form their identity. The habits become WHO they are. However, as hard as it is to break a habit–this one–the one where you blame others for your circumstances, is an important one to break. What happens to you is not your identity. It does not define who you are. How you deal with it defines you, taking self-responsibility.

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For instance, if you’re unhappy, realize that your unhappiness…it’s on you. You can either play the victim or you can take self-responsibility by the wheel, stop feeling sorry for yourself, and change your route. If you can’t change your route, then change your perspective on the situation. You should not take the situation and use it as an excuse not to move forward. That will not get you on the road to happiness or success. 

(Please note: Feeling unhappy and being depressed are two different things. This article is not focusing on depression. Depression is very real and if you or someone you know feels depressed, please seek out a doctor to help.)

Sure, you can feel badly that the situation happened to you. You can take a moment to grieve. But then, decide how to drive forward. Learn from the situation. Actively change what you can. This is taking self-responsibility, and this is the key to fighting for what you want. Change your perspective on the situation and implement a path toward your happiness.

Self-Responsibility: The Roadmap to Your Success

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Most people must fight for their own success. Not everyone has great things just fall into their laps. Instead, they use courage and conviction to get what they want. This is the epitome of self-responsibility because you need to be courageous in your pursuit of happiness. You need to make your own path.

For instance (starting with a smaller-scale example), maybe you’re overwhelmed and hate that your house is always a mess. A way to take self-responsibility is to acknowledge that you may be part of the problem. Come up with a system to change it. Put in the effort. Hop on the Internet or click on Pinterest and find a way to conquer the mess. And if you must, take really small steps, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed.

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It’s absolutely OK to start small. When a child is learning to walk, you don’t yell at him for not being able to walk correctly right away! Don’t feel bad for taking baby steps. At least you are your are moving in the right direction. And then the next step might be simply to find a system to conquer the mess. Then, it might be to set aside 15 minutes per day to work on that idea. Listen, it does not have to happen overnight, but at least you are moving in the direction that will help you feel happier. 

Or, it is possible that you are unhappy at your job. Of course, it is not always easy to just quit and look for another job, but perhaps you can talk to your boss about the things that make you unhappy. Maybe you two can work toward changing some things in order to help you feel happier and more successful. The worst that can happen is that your boss says no or doesn’t care about your feelings. Then you know what to do next: start looking for another job.

Yes, this is scary. But scary things happen in life and you either stare them down or run the other way. Stay complacent or seek out your own happiness and success. Perhaps you’re so sick of the job that you start updating your resume and searching for other opportunities out there. Begin interviewing and taking the steps required to navigate from one job to the next. Taking self-responsibility and creating a roadmap to get there can feel extraordinarily empowering. Accepting self-responsibility is a wonderful thing. It makes you a stronger person.

Successes and Failures: Steer Your Life in the Right Direction

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Accepting the differences between what is happening to you and what is happening for you is tough. Sometimes it takes a bit of time to realize that you should not dwell in the past or over failures you may have encountered. Instead, learn from those failures. Learn from those mistakes. It is conceivable that what happened to you is actually something that happened for you. Maybe you just need to change your perspective a bit. 

For example, you may have lost your job. Yes, it is absolutely OK to mourn that loss and take a minute to worry about your future. But that part needs to shift you into the drive you need to find another job. Instead of ruminating on feeling like a failure, think of it as something that happened for you. It can be a new start, a fresh beginning. Make the most out of it. Perhaps you were meant for bigger and better things and you just don’t see it yet. 

Again, you are the driver in your life. Self-responsibility means that you are solely responsible for each choice you make. You choose the way you look at a situation. You choose the way you feel about a situation. And you choose what to do with the situation. Choose happiness. Choose to turn things in your favor. 

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Make life happen for you. The most successful people do this. As he explains in his book On Writing, Stephen King was flat broke and worked multiple jobs just to sustain his family AND his love for writing. His writing was rejected so many times that you think he would have quit and just moved on with life. 

However, he didn’t. All of the rejections he received before he finally “made it” drove him to keep writing. Therefore, what made him successful was not just that he’s a great writer. What made him successful was his choice to keep going. There are dozens of great writers out there. Great musicians, great doctors, great teachers, great mechanics. The difference between those who are successful and those who aren’t is their drive to succeed. 

No, you do not need to become famous to be happy; that’s not the point. The point is that to be happy and successful, you must take self-responsibility and steer your life in the right direction, even when things look grim. Even if you fail a few times.

Your Definition of Happiness and Success: Why it Matters

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You are more in control of your life than you may think. You can turn your life around; it just takes work. It takes accountability and courage. Additionally, since it is your life, you need to focus on yourself and not compare yourself to others. 

What is your definition of happiness? How about your definition of success? It’s different for everyone. For some people, it’s being a stay-at-home mom who works tirelessly to keep a home, raise her children, etc. For someone else, it may be working 60-hour workweeks. It may mean remaining single and devoting their life to their career. Though these examples are very different in comparison, they have much in common if the person is happy with their own success. Neither way of living is better than the other. It’s all a matter of defining happiness and success for yourself.  

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Determine your happiness. Figure out what it will take to make you happy. Do the same with success. If you realize that you are not happy with the way your life looks, drive in a different direction. Set goals and then set up baby steps to achieve the goals. Let’s say that you are a working mom and you want to be a stay-at-home mom because that makes you happier and that defines a successful life for you. You can do it if you can figure out the steps to get there. What’s holding you back?

Maybe it means cutting down on your spending, saving up more money, and then living a bit frugally. Or, maybe you can’t swing it because of financial reasons, etc. If that’s the case, then change your perspective. You are being a wonderful role model for your children if you see the good in life. Your reaction and your attitude are your choices to make. 


Self-Responsibiliy, Happiness, and Success: Attitude is Everything

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Taking self-responsibility to lead a happier life where you feel successful is absolutely feasible. You are able to change your circumstances and make life happen for you. Sometimes it means changing what is making you unhappy. Sometimes, it may simply come down to changing your perspective. Your attitude toward happiness and success is what will help you actually be happy and successful. Not money. Not material things. It’s your attitude. 

Use your own definitions of happiness and success as a guide. Create your own action plan using self-responsibility. Define your own goals. Create small habits to get there. Drive your own route toward your dreams, taking responsibility for yourself along the way. As long as you accept accountability for your life and the actions and reactions you make, you are driving in the right direction.

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