How to Take Responsibility of Your Life in 3 Essential Steps

There’s  a saying  in personal  security: “You  Are It.” When it  comes to personal safety,  one of the most important lessons  you can learn is to take responsibility  for yourself.

This  is equally  the case when  it comes to your  health and wellbeing.  Just as you can’t depend  on anyone else to save you  when you’re in danger, you can’t  depend on anyone else for your fitness.

You  can’t  rely on  anyone else  to live your  life for you. If  you let others create  your reality, then you live  by their rules, their definitions.  You live by their leave. At the end  of the day, while you can take the advice  of others and follow their guidance, you are  the one  who makes  the decision,  whether that is  to accept the status  quo or challenge it. You  are the star in your own movie.  Don’t focus on other people’s lives  – in most people’s lives, you’re just  an extra. This is your show.

This  first step  is one of the  most important. This  is your declaration of  accountability. This is where  you decide to live at cause rather  than effect, and be the captain of your  own ship. You are the only thing that you  can control; but when you take control of your thoughts  and your actions, you control your reality.

So  don’t  just jump  on everyone  else’s bandwagon,  following the latest  fads. Take the time to  learn what works for you and  what you enjoy  when it  comes to cultivating  your fitness. Try different  things, research alternative techniques,  consult professionals. This is the first  step, but you’re the only one who can put the  guidance into practice. 

Good  health  isn’t caused  by external events; you are  the only one  who can make yourself  fit and healthy. So take responsibility  and make time for what’s important.

#1 - Permission to Put Yourself First

The  first  thing I’m  going to ask  you to do is be  selfish. Let me clarify:  When I tell you to be selfish,  I’m talking about taking care of you first.  

It’s only  by taking care  of yourself that  you can help others.

Just  think about  when you are  on a flight and  the flight attendants  take you through the safety  demonstration. If there is a loss  in cabin pressure, oxygen masks will  drop down in front of you. And what do  the flight attendants always say? They tell  you to put the mask over your own face first.  They  say that  by taking care  of yourself first,  you’ll be better able  to help your loved ones  next.

But  it seems  like the more  selfish act, right?  Why can’t you just slip  the mask over the child beside  you first – the more “unselfish” thing  to do? Isn’t that normally what we do –  put the children first?

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The  thing  is, hypoxia  (oxygen deprivation)  can set in incredibly  rapidly. It may come with  warning signs: shortness of breath, dizziness, blurry vision and mental confusion.  But at higher altitudes, depressurization and unconsciousness can occur within a few seconds. You can’t help anyone else if  you pass out in the process. It’s more efficient to take care of  your needs first so you can assist children and other passengers with  your full faculties intact, however selfish the act of saving yourself first  might seem.

Take  an example  in a broader  context. Imagine  someone running around  here, there and everywhere,  so focused on their loved ones  and helping everyone else that they  lose sight of taking care of themselves  in the process.

They  wake up  early in the  morning in order  to get the kids ready  and get them off to school.  They make sure that the kids have breakfast,  but they don’t have time to grab something themselves. Then  they hit traffic and have to get themselves to work. Work is busy,  so they don’t grab more than some coffee and, later, takeout to eat  at their desk. They work late, then hit traffic, then make it home.

Their  partner’s picked up the kids and sorted them out with dinner, but the kids  still need help with their homework. Then a colleague calls, needing a favor or  an ear to bend, and they don’t have the heart to say they don’t have time to do  what’s asked of them. They don’t eat till late, then only get to watch a little television  before bed and the whole cycle starts again. 

They  make unhealthy  food choices, don’t  make time for exercise, become  overweight, don’t make time for  relaxation (that would be selfish),  and the list goes on... Life can spiral  out of control. Focusing on everything and everyone  except yourself, it’s easy to neglect your diet and exercise,  sacrifice your sleep and lose touch with your friends and personal  interests. You might consider yourself the most selfless person around,  but what do you think happens next?

You  become  stressed.  And stress  can cause a  variety of problems, internal  and external, including physical  ailments and chronic illness. You turn  into the one who needs help, and your  ability to help others is forfeited.

Even  though  you have  spent all this  time refusing to  be selfish, it backfires,  because then you require others  to be selfless in order to look after  you. And you’re in no position to look  after them in return.

Being  selfish  in this context  is one of the most  important things you can  do, not just for your own  health and wellbeing but also  that of others.

If  you go day by day,  ignoring opportunities  and not investing the time  in improving your life because,  subconsciously, you think focusing that  time and energy on yourself would be selfish,  then you have to think again. Do you want the others  around you, especially your loved ones, to be happy and  healthy? Then be happy and healthy yourself – and see how  it rubs off on them! Do you want others around you to achieve  their dreams? Then achieve your own – show them  it’s possible,  that everything is  possible. Inspire change  by first changing yourself. 

Put  yourself  first, even  if the idea seems  selfish. Put the mask on  yourself before doing anything  else. You are a VIP – there is nothing  wrong with admitting your worth to yourself.  Embracing being selfish is the same as rejecting  feeling guilty.

Feeling guilty for investing in yourself  and achieving for yourself gains you nothing. The thing to  grasp now is that part of the preparation for performing at  your peak is accepting that you need to take care of yourself  first. It doesn’t take that much time and, with minimal investment,  you get a huge reward. You protect what’s most valuable – you! 

#2 - Become Accountable

Napoleon  Hill presents  a list of alibis  – excuses for not achieving  what you say you desire. There  are lots and lots of them and they  all begin:  

IF...

IF  I had  money...

IF  only  conditions  around me were  different...

IF  I didn’t  have so many  worries... 

These  are excuses!  These alibis shift  the blame for not achieving success  to factors outside yourself. They comfort  you as you continue to exist in a state of  homeostasis, perceiving yourself as trapped in the  status quo. But this is a prison you yourself have  created – it only exists in your mind!

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These  same excuses  apply when we’re  talking about achieving optimum  health and fitness. People think  they need more money to get the newest  equipment or a gym membership or a personal trainer  (when, in fact, you don’t really need any of those things  to get started).

They think they’d be able to keep on top of  their exercise regimen if they only had more time or less stress  (when, in fact, creating the time to exercise would have a beneficial  effect on their stress levels!). They think they’d go running if only there  were a park right across the road (when, in fact, if there were a park right  across the road, they’d only find another reason not to run in it).

Hill  quotes  Elbert Hubbard:  

“It has always been  a mystery to me why people  spend so much time deliberately  fooling themselves by creating alibis  to cover their weaknesses. If used differently,  this same time would be sufficient to cure the weakness,  then no alibis would be needed.”

Becoming  accountable  is about recognizing  that this choice is in your  hands – again, it is in your  mind! The fact that you have picked up  this book means that you want to make a  change. You have given yourself permission to  think greater than your current circumstances. This  very act means that greatness is within your reach. 

People  aren’t always  conscious that their  first instinct is to deny or  shift responsibility. But there’s  nothing stopping

you from  being conscious  of it, and choosing  to take responsibility  for what unfolds. You just  need to find the motivation.

#3 - Find Your Spark 

So  how do you  find the  motivation?  In my other  books, I refer to  your reason to prevail,  your why,  as your  spark. It’s  really what lies at  the root of everything  you can work on, whether  it’s your personal safety, personal  development or personal performance.

The  first  step is  to really  think about  why you are addressing your  wellbeing. You need to know why because  this will  keep you going.  This is your motivation,  your inspiration, your spark.  This is what ignites the jet fuel  and lights a fire under your butt. This  is what makes everything worthwhile. 

This  burning  question – why  – will  continue  to crop up  whenever anything  becomes an effort,  or takes up your time,  or demands your energy, especially  when things are hard, and you perceive  they’re not going your way. You’ll need to stop,  pause and think: Why  am I  doing this?  What is the  point?

For  me, it’s  the thought  of my children  – what I want for  them – their safety, wellbeing  and the possibility of a limitless  future. When things are at their toughest,  they are the sparks that keep me fighting. When  I think about why I want to perform at my peak,  it’s because I want to be a role model for them. I  want to show them what’s possible when you are your best  self, every day.

Others  don’t have  children and  it might be their  boyfriend/girlfriend or  husband/wife. It might be  the work they are doing in the  world or the legacy they won’t get  a chance to leave if they don’t achieve  their potential. It is their passion.

Before  we go any  further, I want  you to dedicate some  serious thought to this.  It might not take much digging  at all to find your underlying motivation,  but the more you think about it, the more it  will become entrenched in your brain, ready to give  you a kick of inspiration and motivation whenever you need  it most.

These  are the  considerations  when you are trying  to identify your spark:

  • It  must be  personal.
  • It  will be  something or  someone you are  passionate about.
  • It  has to  be important  to you NOW –  something in the present,  not something from the past.
  • It  is what  makes you  tick. Deep down,  it makes you who you  are.
  • It  is a trigger.  The thought of losing  it is what will get you fired  up enough to fight for your vision.
  • It  isn’t logical;  it’s emotional –  something that rips  you at your core, deep  in your heart and soul.

You  need to  take some  time to uncover  this part of yourself.  It might be a very simple  answer, but, again, you need  to really think about it and engage  your emotions at the same time. When  the going gets tough, you want your brain  to be programmed to immediately spark your resistance. 

This  is the  first step  because, while  you might think  physical activity or  nutrition to be the most  important element in a health and  wellbeing regimen, it’s really your  mindset. Holding yourself accountable, putting  yourself first, and finding that spark are what will  drive you to achieve in every arena. It’s what will  set you up to succeed in every step that follows.