Pick a situation in your life. It can be one you are happy with, or one you are not so thrilled with at the moment. Now, here is the fun part – start thinking backwards. The quote above is very true. We are where we are in life because of the choices we have made. This is a good thing. Taking responsibility for where we are gives us control. Many people confuse responsibility for blame. The two are not the same. When you blame someone, or something, for where you are, you give them or it control. When you take responsibility for your life, you assume control over it. What I meant about thinking backwards is looking at the decisions that have taken you to where you are currently, whether that is good or bad.

Even bad situations leave a key to success. Think about what decisions have left you where you are. Maybe you were not disciplined enough in your health and now you find yourself out of shape, or in a healthy crisis. Maybe you didn’t show up for work on time and now you find yourself on probation or looking for work. If you did not act loving and compassionate to your partner, you might be looking for a new valentine. Most people stop here. They might even stick around and beat themselves up over it. This gets us nowhere except feeling bad about ourselves.

Instead, look at how you can make better decisions next time. This is where the difference in blame and responsibility come into play. If you say, “Well, I couldn’t make it into work on time because they kept changing my schedule.” or “If the boss would have been nicer, I would have been more inclined to be there.” How about, “My partner was always nagging me so I snapped.” If you put the blame on others, you are more likely to make the same mistakes next time. Let us face it, finding the perfect schedule, boss or partner is impossible. If we did, they might not keep us around because we are not perfect. We also will feel helpless and not control of your own life. When take responsibility for your own role in your life, you know you can change it. You can show up on time, even if they change your schedule. If your partner does something to irritate you, there are better ways to communicate that and change it. You have control over all of those things.

Harry Truman, one of my favorite presidents, had a sign on his desk that said “The buck stops here.” Meaning, he was in charge of the country, so for good or bad, it was his responsibility. Imagine a politician with that attitude these days! We have been looking at how negative situations can be a great teaching tool, but what about positive ones? We can look at what decisions have helped us arrive there as well. Did we help someone in need and now they have helped us? Maybe we put in the work on a project and now we find ourselves done ahead of time and with a little freedom? We really worked to better ourselves and now we find we have more friends and our spouse is more in love with us than ever! We must look at what positive decisions we made. To take it to another level. See if you can apply these good decisions to an area of your life that may not be working so well. If you have been paying compliments and showing appreciation to your coworkers , but things are not going so good at home, maybe try being a little more attentive there. If you have been doing your 20 squats every day, but you are weeks behind on writing your fourth book (hypothetically) then apply making small efforts every day to that.

Taking responsibility for your lot in life is not blaming yourself. It is taking responsibility and control of your own life. It is using what you can learn from both the good and the bad to make the best out of the life you have left. What decisions have you made that you can learn from?

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