Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Feel Free to Make your Own Choices, but Take Responsibility for Them

It is great that we live in a free country, where we are free – for the most part – to live our lives the way we choose. However, I find it disturbing how many times people are not willing to hold themselves accountable for the choices they make.

I have been a member of a networking group that meets on Saturdays for the last 6 years. The group has met on Saturdays for longer than I have been a member. As much as I wish these meetings were on a weekday, I knew when I joined the group that if I wanted to attend meetings, I would have to give up one Saturday a month. Recently, a new member has been very vocally and passionately lobbying to change the meeting day because of a conflict with her religious beliefs.

I respect this new member’s religious beliefs and understand her frustration. However, I feel as though the meeting times were very clearly stated when she joined, and now she expects the entire group to change in order to accommodate the choices that she has made. This is the perfect example of not taking responsibility for the choices you have made.

In order to be successful, and ultimately happy and fulfilled, you must acknowledge and accept that your life is your responsibility. You are in charge. No matter how much you try to blame others for the events that take place in your life, each choice you make will either positively or negatively impact that life. Of course, there are things that happen to us that are out of our control. However, we can still control how we react to them. Here are some tips to take charge of your own destiny:

• Change the tune of the voice in your head. Do you find yourself constantly blaming others or making excuses for yourself? Own up to your mistakes and learn from them. Look inside and see how you could have handled a negative situation differently.

• Listen to what you say to others. Do you blame your parents, your social status or your boss’ leadership style for your failures? What role did you play in creating a bad situation, missing a deadline or producing work that was not up to standards? How can you change to ensure it does not happen again for the same reasons?

• Change your patterns. Listen to that voice in your head and how you talk to others. Take control of the excuses and stop blaming other people or events. When you start to take accountability, you realize that you really have more control than you originally thought was possible.

• Don’t get defensive. Accept constructive criticism with an open mind. Evaluate other people’s opinions and objectively identify if you can change your approach to improve your future outcome. The only way to truly improve and get better is to accept feedback and make positive changes. You will not always agree with the feedback you receive. However, take the time to analyze the feedback and see if it will help you grow; don’t just dismiss it outright.

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