On a scale of 1-10, how responsible are you for your life? What does being responsible look like for you? For most of us, responsibility is something that we like to believe we are very much in integrity with.
"Oh, I make sure I get up on time every day, I get in to work on time, I always pick up my kids and take them to their sports games. I'm responsible for my pets, and my family. I make sure all of my bills are paid on time. I'm responsible".
I assert that this is bullshit.
Sure, it feels good to list off all of these items and talk about how responsible we are, but at the end of the day, this is a small game. Take a deeper look. How often do you let yourself off the hook? Are you ever too tired to do something? How about procrastinating? Are you happy with everything in your life? Like really happy?
Radical responsibility means being fully at cause for everything in your life. This is supremely rare in our lives, here's a few reasons why:
It's hard to see
Often, radical responsibility requires taking action in the areas shielded by our blindspots. To us, it doesn't seem like we're shirking our declarations when we choose to have a nap instead of taking on that thing we keep talking about. You were really tired!
Without support, we often don't even realize that this is merely a story about why we couldn't take on that work. (Question: what had you set things up so that you hadn't gotten enough sleep?)
It's a lot of work
It takes a lot of dedication to actually look deeply in our lives and take on what is missing. It's hard enough just being able to notice where we are letting ourselves off the hook. Actually taking the difficult action and doing what scares us so that we can stay responsible for ourselves is another step altogether.
We train other people to let us off
We are obsessively concerned with appearances and feelings in our society. What do you do when someone tells you for the fourth time in three months that they swear they're going to quit their job next Monday? Do you tell them that's bullshit? Do you hold them accountable to what they've declared?
Probably not. Even when we do, more often than not they have a compelling story for why they can't make good on that declaration, and that's where we stop. "Oh, well, I guess if you really do need the money, then sure, you can't quit". (Guess what - this is a bullshit story too).
If they push us on that point, then they get a dose of our survival mechanism, and that's usually more than sufficient to end the conversation.
We don't want to be held accountable
It's easier to just talk about the big things that we will one day or achieve (or worse yet, that the world should see and be providing to us). If that's not you, perhaps the game you play is to let yourself off the hook by whip yourself for not taking on what you said you would. Hey, you didn't do that thing you said you would do, but at least you're beating yourself up for it, right?
The truth is, you don't want to be held accountable, because if you did, you would have to do that scary thing. You might actually have to go to that mingler and talk to those people that scare you. You might have to go and ask that person to hire you. You might have to ask the questions that will cause some people to judge you. (Spoiler alert: they are judging you anyhow).
Being radically responsible for your life means that you no longer get to blame anything on circumstance. Many people find this disconcerting. It means that you get to own literally everything that shows up in your life.
It takes a great deal of practice to reinvent and retrain ourselves. Most of us have a relationship with our circumstances that they are out of our control and it is alright for us to stop when something out of our control gets in the way. But what if that wasn't the case? What if, even though you wanted to procrastinate, you held yourself radically responsible? What if, instead of making up an excuse for why you couldn't actually talk to that person, you just talked to him?
Here's your challenge for the New Year. Take on being radically responsible for your life right now. Post a comment and declare what you will create this year. Make it public and put it down. No bullshit, no letting yourself off the hook. If you've read to this point and have already decided you're not going to leave a comment, I've got some good news for you: you are now present to one of the ways you let yourself off the hook!
Be radically responsible, and have an incredible year.