We are all responsible for ourselves, whether we want to be or not. No one else can or should take responsibility for the way our lives turn out, or for the actions we choose to take. No one else but you is responsible for accepting the consequences that follow your actions and reactions.
Personal responsibility is a crucial skill for living a successful life. It’s a sign that you take ownership of every aspect of your life, and that you are prepared to handle anything that comes your way.
Being a responsible person makes you a decent member of society, contributing to the overall functioning of it as a whole. When we each do our part, we are all better for it.
In this article, we discuss 10 factors about personal responsibility that illustrate what it really means to be responsible.
10 Important Factors About Personal Responsibility
1. Personal responsibility means being accountable for your actions
This means that you are responsible for the consequences of your actions, whether good or bad. When you’ve made a mistake, you should be able to own up to it and work towards resolving it without placing the blame on someone else. For example, if you have a disagreement or argument with your partner, instead of getting defensive, you should be able to see where you were wrong, be willing to admit to it, and apologize and do your part to rectify the situation.
2. It’s important to accept the consequences of your decisions
Every decision we make comes with a consequence. It’s just cause and effect. The quote “Our lives are the sum total of the choices we have made” captures this concept perfectly. Every single day we make decisions big and small that affect the trajectory of our life. Personal responsibility means accepting that you are where you are now because of the decisions you’ve made.
3. Personal responsibility is about taking care of yourself and fulfilling your needs before you take care of others
There’s a reason why before a flight (when they do the safety briefing) they advise you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping someone else. This is because when there’s a drop in cabin oxygen you can lose consciousness very quickly after which, you can’t help anyone else. The moral of the story is that you need to take care of yourself first so that you can show up as your best self for others. In life, this means setting boundaries and taking care of your physical and mental needs before taking care of the needs of others.
4. You’re responsible for the way you feel, think, and act in any given situation
One important lesson I’ve learned in life is that there’s very little we can control in the outside world. What we do have control over, however, are our thoughts and reactions; we each have the power to choose how we display our emotions, and how we communicate our feelings to others. It takes a certain level of emotional intelligence to understand what you’re feeling, what triggered the feeling, and how you can deal with the feeling in a healthy way.
5. You can’t blame anyone else for what happens to you in life – it’s up to you to make a difference
Sure, sometimes you may feel stuck and unhappy. And it may come easy to blame others for your unhappiness; maybe your boss makes you feel unappreciated at work and you blame them for hating your job, or maybe you’re in a toxic relationship and you just want to blame your partner for being the problem. But the truth is, no one is forcing you to stay stuck. You have the power to change your situation and make it more favorable, but it’s your choice and your responsibility to do so.
6. Being responsible means that when someone asks something from you, they are entitled to an answer or a response; not excuses or procrastination
If your boss asks you to complete an assignment by a certain date the responsible thing to do is acknowledge the instructions, work on the project and finish it by the deadline. When a friend asks to hang out in a few days, personal responsibility means giving them a firm yes or no answer or maybe letting them know you’ll circle back with an answer, and actually do. When you’re responsible, you understand that relationships, whether personal or professional, require mutual respect and trust.
7. Responsibility can be an important life skill
Being responsible is probably one of THE most important life skills to have. Responsibility means you understand the importance of due dates, and deadlines, of being on time for appointments, job interviews, and meetups with friends. It means respecting rules and regulations put in place, and it means keeping your personal affairs in order including your health, your finances, your home, and your family. Being responsible helps you cruise through life with more ease and earns you the respect of others.
8. People who are responsible follow through on their commitments
Have you ever made plans with a friend and then they canceled on you last minute? Maybe you were excited to see them and hang out, but now you feel disappointed that they bailed. Someone who is responsible wouldn’t normally do this unless something imminent comes up. When you make commitments, others count on you to show up for them; they put trust in you that you will do as you say, and they build expectations around what you committed to.
In the same way that it’s important to uphold commitments to others, it’s important you uphold the ones you make to yourself too. Personal responsibility means you own up to what you committed to and follow through.
9. Responsibility is not about blame
There may be scenarios where more than one person is to blame for things falling apart but it’s a waste of everyone’s time trying to figure out who has the most fault. Responsibility is about stepping up and coming up with solutions rather than focusing on blame, even if you had no part in the problem in the first place.
10. Responsibility is a personal choice
Responsibility is as much a choice as it is a skill. You may have been given all the tools to become a responsible adult but at the end of the day, even if you know how to be responsible, being so is a choice. Being responsible allows you to integrate with society in a positive way. A lack of responsibility goes on to make life more complicated and stressful. For example, if you choose to splurge on a new luxury bag you can’t really afford, you are acting outside of your budget, and possibly affecting your ability to pay for more important necessities like rent, bills, or food.
Personal responsibility comes from a range of factors including accepting the consequences of your actions, being reliable, holding yourself accountable, being emotionally intelligent. and being respectful of deadlines and commitments you’ve made.
It also shows maturity and an understanding that society flows better when everyone is doing their part.
We hope these 10 factors about personal responsibility allow you to reflect on yourself, and on what areas of your life you could be more responsible, even if it’s something as simple as committing to working on yourself each day and following through with that plan. You’ll be amazed at the changes you can make when you take responsibility for your own life!