Have you ever said...
“I could lose weight if people would stop bringing sweets to the office.”
“I could have a productive day if people would stop calling me all the time.”
“I could exercise if I didn’t have so many things to do.”
“I could read my Bible in the morning if I didn’t have to rush out the door.”
Do you see a pattern here? What is always present in each of these statements? “I could if" - if other people or certain circumstances were different.
These situations seem hopeless and impossible because of the ifs.
If you can identify with any of these examples, don’t feel bad. It’s not your fault after all. It all started in Genesis 3 with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. When God asked Adam if he had eaten from the tree that he commanded Adam not to eat from, Adam responded, “The woman you put here with me - she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it" (v. 12). Then God asked Eve what she had done and she responded with, “The serpent deceived me and I ate" (v. 13).
Sadly, we still do this today. We want to use our time wisely, we want to take care of our bodies, we want to grow spiritually, we want to declutter our homes, and the list goes on. Many times we make excuses and blame our circumstances and other people for our failures and lack of progress. When we do this, we are not taking personal responsibility for our actions, just like Adam and Eve. Having our eyes opened to this unhealthy pattern is a huge first step to being intentional and responsible for the things we do and don’t do in our lives.
How do we break this pattern of behavior and take personal responsibility for our actions so that we can move forward and see positive results in our lives?
Personal responsibility means that we take responsibility for our actions and accept the consequences for those actions instead of blaming someone else for something that we were not able to accomplish. “Take”, in this definition, is an action word, meaning that we have to do something.
1. The first step is to take ownership of your actions.
You are responsible for you and for what you do and what you don’t do. There will always be choices to make. Your actions will have consequences for you and for those in your circle of influence. No more playing the “blame game.” Begin to take responsibility by evaluating what drives you to feel bad about what you can’t seem to get done. If you want something to change in your life, you have to do something different.
2. The second step is to identify all areas of your life where you want to see change.
Where do you feel stuck?
What makes you frustrated?
What in your life has not been completed?
Choose the questions above that apply to your situation and write your answers in a notebook or journal. Go ahead and write out all areas where you want something to be different.
Writing your answers down gives you a visual that you can review at any time, and neuroscience proves that it helps you be successful with what you are trying to achieve.
3. The third step is to choose ONE area to focus on and develop a plan.
What one thing will you commit to work on?
What needs to be in place so that you can be successful?
Who or what might keep you from being successful?
What’s the first step to get started?
What other steps are needed?
When will you fit this into your weekly schedule?
Is there an end date for this one area?
A Christian Life Coach can help you develop a plan for taking personal responsibility in your area of focus. Scheduling a free discovery call with me or another life coach that you may know is a great way to explore coaching.
4. The fourth step is to examine your mindset.
Do you believe you can be successful in this area?
Do you have any beliefs that limit your view of success?
What needs to happen in order to change the way you view becoming personally responsible in your area of focus?
Dr. Shad Helmstetter, author of What to Say When You Talk to Yourself writes, “You will become what you think about most; your success or failure in being personally responsible (emphasis added) will depend on your programming - what you accept from others and what you say when you talk to yourself.” Neuroscience proves this to be true and we also find this truth in the Bible. “For as he thinks within himself, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7
I’ll never master time management. I'll never be able to exercise weekly. I'll never be able to read my bible regularly. I’ll never get my house decluttered. I’ll never be able to control the words that come out of my mouth. When have you said, “I’ll never . . . .?”
Replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk. It’s so important to fill your thoughts with positive, life-giving words that move you forward. What positive phrases can you use to replace negative thoughts?
I can learn how to manage my time. I can exercise every week. I can read my Bible every day. I can declutter my house. I can control my mouth.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
Write the “I’ll never” statement that applies to your situation on a piece of paper. Then tear up the paper and throw it in the garbage. This exercise is a great visual and physical way to throw out the things that keep you stuck in “neverland.”
Write or type positive phrases and/or Bible verses and place them in areas where you can see them regularly. Speak these out loud to encourage you to take action on your area of focus.
5. The fifth step is to share what you are doing with a trusted friend or family member.
This person is someone who checks in with you regularly without judgment to see how you are progressing. They encourage you to keep moving forward towards your goal. When you know that someone is going to ask you about a certain thing, you are more motivated to follow through on what you told them that you were doing.
Realizing that you cannot continue to make excuses for things that aren’t what you want them to be is a big step in growing as a person.
When you begin to take personal responsibility for your actions, you not only experience personal growth, but you also have an amazing sense of fulfillment. That’s a healthy pattern of behavior that we want to be intentional to practice so that we can move forward and see positive results in our lives.
Dear God, thank you that I am made in your image. You know where I struggle. Open my eyes to see areas of my life that I have resigned to never getting any better. Help me to not settle for a life of frustration, but to take personal responsibility to move forward into the life you have for me as your beloved child. Amen.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/FOTOKITA
Renee Bethel, author of Finding Me: A Woman’s Guide to Learning More About Herself is a Professional Christian Life Coach and a Certified Gospel Centered Enneagram Coach. She helps Christian Female Entrepreneurs and Leaders do their own inner work so they are equipped for building relationships and impact within the Body of Christ. Join her free Facebook community.