Having the responsibility means also being responsible

When we think about responsibility and wish to have more of it, we mostly focus on the positive effects. The increased power or influence that comes with having the responsibility, or the choices and the respect. We dream about all the good decisions we would make and what we would achieve. Having the responsibility means in our one-sided view that we get a rise in salary or at least in acknowledgement.

Suddenly responsible

But once we are suddenly responsible, we also see the other side of the medal- the side of being responsible. Because having the responsibility also means being responsible if something does not go as planned. It means that we have to “suffer” the consequences. That suddenly makes us fearful of rejection or mistakes. We feel a pressure to fail.

This all sounds very theoretical. Let’s look at it with some examples.

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Responsible for your life

You are not completely happy in life, and it is because somebody else is or is not doing something you think should be done. Or you have no chance of losing weight because your partner puts unhealthy food on the table. Another good example is “I really want to be more fit, but I don’t have the time to do sports, because of work, kids, …!”

Yes, in all those situations you are a victim of the circumstances. You can’t change the situation or what others are doing.

But you are responsible for how they affect you. If you are not happy, it is your responsibility to change that, and not the responsibility of somebody else. You are responsible for your actions, feelings, happiness- in short: for your life.

So how can you take responsibility if you can’t change the others or the circumstances? Well, you can change how you handle it and how you feel about it and take action to feel better.

Let’s take a closer look at the food example. Are you forced to eat the unhealthy food? I don’t think so. It is your choice to eat it. But maybe you don’t want to hurt the feelings of your partner, or it is just easier to not have to have that discussion or cook for yourself. But if you take responsibility for yourself, you also have to take the consequences. Your choice in this example is between a rock and a hard place, I understand, but it is your choice.

I would like to end this part with a quote from Dante Alighieri (ital. Writer): “The path to your goals starts the day you take 100% responsibility for what you do.”

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Responsibilities at work

Here a new job or even your first job is a good example. When you start something new you are suddenly responsible for things you have never been responsible for before. You have self-doubts. Is the decision you are making ok? What if it is wrong?

You don’t want to take the wrong decision. Not make a fool out of yourself or make it worse for your company or co-workers. But keep in mind, also a decision you do not take in the end is a decision.

But what can you do? First of all, you don’t need to have all the answers and you don’t have to do everything on your own! You could ask co-workers or your boss for an opinion and discuss with them. Also, it is ok to ask questions, no matter what your position is. There might be somebody who knows this specific topic better than you do. You won’t lose your face by asking. That way, you can make informed decisions. To counter the fear of making a mistake is to accept that mistakes will happen. You are human! But how you deal with them is important. See them as a chance to learn and grow. And take responsibility for them and find solutions. This way you can also earn trust.

Are those self-doubts still there? Try asking yourself one question: “What is the worst thing that can happen?” A lot of the time even the horror scenario is bearable, even if not ideal.

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Take aways from “Suddenly responsible”:

  • Responsibility has a lot of positive sides, but you also have to embrace the downside
  • You are responsible for your life
  • Self-doubt is normal, but there are countermeasures

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