Since we’ve made September “Work on Your Personal Shit” Month, I can’t go too far without bringing up a topic fundamental to fostering your own success:
Taking responsibility for your life.
Over 10 years ago, I read Jack Canfield’s Success Principles. (BTW, I’m a big fan of this book. Following Success Principles got me to submit my first book, Dating the Divorced Man, for publication. Eleven years later, as of this date, I have 11 books published and a 12th in the pipe. That shit works). Anyway, Canfield’s book has 67 success principles in it. You know what #1 is? Taking 100% responsibility for your life.
Before you do much of anything, before you can supercharge your dating life or repair that troubled marriage or achieve what you want in life, you have to do this. You have to take full responsibility for your life. If you don’t, you will only achieve partial success, if any.
But what does it mean to “take responsibility” for your life?
It means that your happiness and success are in your hands. It means that if your dating life is a shit show, or your relationship a disaster, or your life isn’t what you want, that’s on you and it’s up to you to fix it. It’s not up to others, it’s not up to fate, it’s not up to your partner to respect you more or women to be more fair or men to be less sexist or your boss to be less of an asshole. it’s up to YOU.
That’s a reality many people struggle with. I think people struggle for a few reasons:
- They assume “taking responsibility” means taking blame. I see this a lot among people and among the comments on this blog. But blaming, whether others or yourself, isn’t taking responsibility. It’s the opposite of taking responsibility.
- They hear the word “responsibility” and get squirrelly. Responsibility sounds serious and boring, even burdensome. We associate responsibility with adulting, with paying bills and working jobs we don’t want and going to family events we hate. Taking responsibility can sound like “obligation.” Sometimes it is. But more often, it can be empowering.
- They’ve been taught that life means taking punches and that’s just how it is and there’s nothing you can do about it, or that success and happiness are up to others and not us. It’s true, life can deal us some crazy stuff and people can be total jerks. But we always have control over our own actions and how we react to life, and taking responsibility means taking care of whatever is within your power.
So, to offer up an example, let’s say you open your door one day and there’s a giant pile of shit on your doorstep. I don’t mean mild horse shit or a few deer pellets, either… we’re talking stinky, gross carnivore shit. What do you do? You can blame the a-hole who left it there. You can blame yourself for incurring the shit by being an unfriendly neighbor. You can call the cops, complain to your friends, or get on a shit forum and go full-on troll about the shit-leavers of the world. But the whole time, the shit is sitting on your doorstep festering, stinking, attracting flies.
Fair or not, right or not, the shit is your responsibility now. If you want a clean, stenchless porch, you have to clean up the shit and decide what, if anything, to do next. Maybe you decide to root out and confront the culprit. Maybe you decide to try and be a better neighbor. Maybe you just laugh and let it go. Whatever you do is up to you, as long as you deal with it. This is taking responsibility.
The shit is a metaphor, obviously. Life will deliver shit to your doorstep. So will dating, if you’re single. If partnered, your relationship means that shit will wind up on your doorstep from time to time. You can blame, gripe, or troll about the crap stinking up your peaceful life, or you can do your part to clean it up and learn from it.
When embarking on your journey for a better partner or better life, or when struggling with anything, ask yourself if you’re taking full responsibility. Ask yourself what you can do to change your situation. You’ll find that when you do, you’ll feel BETTER. You’ll feel more IN CONTROL. You’ll feel more POWERFUL. You’ll feel more SUCCESSFUL.
Try it. Once you do, it will change your life.