Growing up, I always had the idea that I was going to get whatever I wanted from life. That things would come easily to me. At first, they always did. Elementary school, middle school, high school. I never had to work very hard, and I never had to make any decisions on my own. Life was laid out for me, and I knocked down every target that was set up in front of me without really trying. I never had to worry about self improvement or putting effort into anything.
Then college came, and things weren’t so clear cut. I had to start making my own decisions. Things weren’t being laid out in front of me any more, and it was difficult for me to understand. My mindset was still telling me that I deserved to have opportunities in front of me to pick from. I thought I just had to aim myself in whatever direction I wanted, and then I’d be launched forward into the life I wanted.
But it didn’t happen that way. And whenever things didn’t work out, I always had an excuse. I was unlucky. Or maybe it was someone else’s fault. Maybe the timing just wasn’t right. Or, my personal favorite, I didn’t really want it. If I had wanted to succeed, I would have. I just didn’t try, because I didn’t care. Yeah, sometimes that one was true. But sometimes it wasn’t. There were times when I didn’t try because I was afraid that I would fail if I did. So I’d choose failure before it had the chance to sneak up on me.
Then one day I picked up a book and there it was. Right there, in black and white. The book is called The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. Full disclosure, I haven’t finished the book yet. There are sixty-seven principles in it, and I’m taking the time to work through each one as it comes. Anyway, the very first principle tells you to take 100% responsibility for your life.
I read that chapter, and that’s when it hit me. I am completely responsible for where I am right now. Every part of my life has been pieced together by decisions that I’ve made. I used to love making excuses, blaming other people and outside influences for my problems. Saying “I could have been successful, if ___________.”
Once I read that and thought it over, I couldn’t do that any more. Yes, all the excuses were still there. Maybe I did get unlucky sometimes, and maybe some things happened that were out of my control. But the truth was that I had let those things stop me. When I was challenged, I gave up. And there’s nobody that I can blame for that but myself.
“Cowards do that, and that ain’t you. You’re better than that.”
This quote from Rocky has always been one that I liked, but the second paragraph especially outlines my point.
Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place. And I don’t care how tough you are. It will beat you to your knees and keep you permanently there if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life, but it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.
Now if you know what you are worth, go out and get what you are worth, but you gotta be willing to take the hits and not pointing fingers, saying you ain’t where you want to be because of him or her or anybody. Cowards do that, and that ain’t you. You’re better than that.
Life is challenging. It’s going to hit you hard sometimes. There will be setbacks. You can’t control that. All you can control is your response to the things that challenge you. Your first option is to let them drag you down. You can blame your problems for why you aren’t where you want to be.
Your second option is to take responsibility for where you are. Did you give up on what you wanted when things got rough? Can you tell yourself honestly that you’ve done everything you could do to get what you wanted from life?
Complete responsibility is complete control
When you accept that you’re completely responsible for your life, you’re doing just that. You’re accepting responsibility. You’re deciding that it’s up to you where your life goes next.
I know a lot of you out there have different beliefs. Many people, myself included, believe that there is a level of predetermination in our lives. We believe that God, or fate, or the universe, has a plan for us. But the part that often gets left out is that we also have free will. No matter what gifts you’ve been given, and no matter what you’re destined to do, it’s not always going to just fall into your lap. You have to choose it. Embrace it. Fight for it. Or watch it slip away.
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