You forgot a deadline. You feel the panic grip you, physically and emotionally. You notice your ears burning red, the palms of your hands slick with sweat, and your breathing is shallow. You are in deep trouble. Your boss handed you an extra piece of work late Friday and asked if you could have it back Tuesday.

You agreed, knowing it would be a tight finish, but confident you could take care of it. You walked out the door a few hours later, disengaging for the weekend and completely forgetting about it by Monday morning. Now, it’s Tuesday, you have to hand it over and you forgot all about it.

It doesn’t feel good. In your moment of panic, you try to formulate a plan. Is there a way to finish it before your boss asks? Can you blame someone else? Can you make out as though you were sick? Can you cover it up?

You might be able to do one of those things, but you shouldn’t. You should take responsibility. If you continually duck out on taking responsibility, for whatever reason, it will simply lead you down the path of multiple failures. You fail yourself by failing the people around you, your credibility, and any opportunity for growth.

If you struggle with taking personal responsibility, don’t worry. It’s something that many people struggle with – it isn’t an easy thing to wrestle with. However, when you blame other people or external circumstances you release all control you have over steering your life.

Personal responsibility allows you to time to reflect and develop strategies to ensure success in the future. It’s also an opportunity to build stronger, trust-based relationships with the people in your life, whether it’s at work or at home.

Once you start taking personal responsibility for your failures and successes, you will increase your self-confidence and find clarity as well. Of course, there are other benefits. As you grow in confidence and develop as a person, you will serve as a role model for the people around you. So, by improving yourself you influence your community in a positive way, too.

The purpose of this report is to define what personal responsibility really means, why it’s important, and how you can take responsibility in your life.

The Qualities of Personal Responsibility

The best way to define it is by highlighting the qualities that come with taking personal responsibility.


How can you take personal responsibility without being clear about what you are responsible for? That’s where the skill of being a communicator comes into play. You should be able to speak to the people around you to gain clarity over your role, whether it’s at work, at home, or even as a parent. You have to know what you should be doing to ensure you do them. If there are no clear expectations, you have to be strong enough to communicate to find clarity. Assumptions lead to mistakes which leads to an attempt to shift blame.

Don’t forget that feedback is also a major part of communication. If something isn’t going to plan, then feedback will help you grow and learn. If you have been unsuccessful, taking the time to reflect will help you create better outcomes in the future, as well as improve your communication. Additionally, when you choose to communicate with regards to mistakes or failure, it helps the people around you process the situation.

Finally, in terms of communication and personal responsibility – the former improves the latter because you are capable of asking questions to seek solutions. It shows how proactive you are as a person and how important it is for you to get things done right.

Boundary Maker

If you don’t set (or maintain) boundaries, you become a doormat for everyone else. Over-committing puts more weight on your shoulders, likely leads to more mistakes, and gives you others to blame. Your personal responsibility is to create and maintain boundaries. You have to be able to say no to extra work when you can’t physically do it. You have to be able to say no to the errand, carpool, or coffee if you do not have the time or energy to do it. People may be annoyed initially, but that’s much better than taking on extra work and falling down on something important.

If you continually take on extra responsibilities, at some point you will drop the ball. It’s difficult to take personal responsibility when you keep taking on more than you can realistically handle. You might say yes to everything your boss asks to increase the likelihood of a raise or promotion. In theory, that’s great, but in reality, burning yourself out will not result in a positive outcome at work.


When you are honest with others and yourself, you put your pride on the sidelines and embrace humility. Your modesty has a major role to play in personal responsibility because it allows you to admit failure. Part of modesty is recognizing your weaknesses and strengths and having the self-control to take on only what you can handle. The personal responsibility aspect of it is always following through when you decide to commit to something.

You may want to prove yourself, but the best way to do that is to only take on what you can handle. A big part of humility is knowing that you can’t do everything or know everything, and that it’s okay to ask for help. Humility shows you’re willing to learn and improve. Humble people take responsibility and they don’t blame external factors or other people.

Impulse Control

It can be a struggle to accept fault and responsibility when it comes to negative outcomes in your life. However, when you are faced with a last-minute choice, it’s easy to make the wrong decision. We make poor decisions all the time and it’s all because we go with our impulse despite the potential consequences. If given the appropriate time to consider the options, one may make a more responsible choice.

For example, if you’re on a diet and heading to a birthday party you know you will be faced with the temptation of cake. You have time to come up with a plan to ensure you keep your diet on track.

However, if you’re on a diet and go to work to find a surprise going-away party for a colleague, the surprise of cake may be too much to overcome. In either case, impulse control is necessary. It’s easier to make the right decision in the first example, and while it’s possible to make the right decision it’s certainly more difficult when it’s sprung on you.

The wrong decision will lead to poor results. You have to accept that faulty behavior is within your control. You can act with courage and get control of your impulses to make the right decisions.


Failure is scary and it’s even scarier to deal with accepting it. It requires courage. You have to accept failure and you can do that by displaying personal responsibility, therefore showing courage.

For example, a coworker has accused you of making a poor decision while dealing with a client. This client is one they have dealt with in the past so, they feel as though they have a good idea of how they work. You tell them they don’t know the circumstances or that you know what you’re doing.

Even as you dismiss them, you know deep down that they have a point and you might be repeating a mistake they’ve made. You feel as though they’re trying to correct you, but they’re actually trying to help you avoid their own mistakes. Yet, despite that knowledge, you respond with anger because you feel fear.

How can you build the courage to deal with situations like this? You have to identify what is causing you fear, first of all. You may not want to admit you’re making a mistake because it feels like failure, but ultimate failure would be worse, right? It takes more courage to take your co-worker’s words to heart and act on it and correct a potential mistake before it happens.


No matter what struggles you are facing, you have to keep moving forward. This is especially important when trying to boost your personal responsibility. A small mistake might feel like a major failure, but part of personal responsibility is recognizing that the smallest mistake or a major failure is simply an opportunity to grow and develop.

Is your job unfulfilling? It’s easy to become complacent. Has your relationship lost its spark? It’s easy to overlook what your partner does for you. When you’re complacent you lose the ability to make mistakes that provide lessons.

You just don’t put yourself out there. Do you know what’s worse than working an unfulfilling job? Staying in it without either trying to find the positives or without taking action to change your situation.

Persistence and consistency are necessary and it’s an important part of personal responsibility. For example, you want to lose weight and you’re struggling to do so by eating a questionable diet and ignoring exercise. You can’t expect results when you aren’t willing to change your behavior. However, if you are persistent with your diet and consistent with your exercise regimen, then you will lose the weight you want to.


Personal responsibility means you act rather than react. When you act it’s an extension or your true self. You are authentic in your behavior and interactions.

A big part of it is having the ability to believe in yourself despite what others may say. It’s about trusting your judgment and not relying on everyone else to make judgments for you. It isn’t about doing what’s expected, rather it’s about doing what’s right by doing what you expect of yourself.

You can blame others, you can act helpless, and intimidated. However, if you aren’t prepared to stand up for what’s right, if you aren’t prepared to take risks, then you will never come to grips with personal responsibility. Authenticity has a major role to play in personal responsibility because it means never making excuses for mistakes. It means being honest about your needs, wants, and desires with yourself and others.


With personal responsibility comes the skill or organization. It doesn’t matter what you’re dealing with, you always manage to organize yourself and keep yourself on track. You know what your personal obligations are, and you follow through. You don’t put things off because you want to do your best work.

9 Steps to Accept Personal Responsibility

Step one is to take personal responsibility is to avoid blaming and complaining. When you blame others, you paint yourself into the role of victim. When you complain you’re trying to shake off any responsibility for what is going on. By blaming and complaining you’re disabling your ability to make changes.

Step two is to stop taking everything so personally. A disagreement is not a personal attack. You have to frame things objectively and deal with them rationally. Stop reacting on impulse and seeing everything as a personal attack.

Step three is recognizing the power in making decisions and choices that are calculated and conscious. You have to keep your goals at the forefront of your mind and then act and make decisions that align with them.

Personal responsibility permeates every area of your life, from getting to work on time to paying your bills. They often extend beyond that, though. For example, if you delegate a task at work that task then becomes the responsibility of someone else. However, your responsibility doesn’t end because you still have to ensure the task is completed properly. It’s up to you to see it through, even if someone else is taking the role on.

Why is it important? Life will present you with all kinds of choices, and every decision that you make will influence your success. Someone with personal responsibility is happy (or at least prepared) to accept the outcome of those choices without blaming others. They can look back on an outcome and build a strategy to improve things going forward.

So, we have discussed what personal responsibility is, why you need to take it, and now let’s talk about how you can.

1 – Take Personal Responsibility for Your Words, Thoughts, Actions, and Feelings

What would personal responsibility be if you didn’t take responsibility for your words, thoughts, actions, and feelings? Don’t all of these things build the human experience? Your words, thoughts, actions, and feelings create the life you live. So, it’s vital that you take personal responsibility for what you think because your thoughts come from your mind.

Your feelings happen within you as a result of those thoughts, just like your words come from your mouth due to those thoughts and feelings. Your actions are the culmination of your thoughts, feelings, and sometimes your words, too.

The point is, that no one has control over what you say, think, feel, or do unless you allow them to take that power from you. You program your buttons so if someone is pushing your buttons, reprogram them. You can’t control how someone responds to your words, thoughts, feelings, or actions no more than they can control how you respond to their words, thoughts, feelings, or actions.

2 – Take Personal Responsibility By Placing the Blame Properly

You cannot blame the economy, you cannot blame your parents, you cannot blame your partner, boss, or friend for the misfortune you are experiencing. While there may be external factors at play, you rob yourself of power when you blame other people.

You cannot blame others and fight your way out of a bad situation. To move forward you have to be prepared to stop blaming and take personal responsibility. It might not seem like a big deal but blaming paints you as a victim and taking personal responsibility puts you in a position of victory. You decide.

3 – Take Personal Responsibility By Not Complaining

To complain is the same as to blame. They require the same type of energy. Both of them paint you in the role of the victim, as though you have no input or choice in the situation.

Complaining highlights that you are focused on what is going wrong and the bad things that you believe happen to you. You have to stop complaining and start seeing mistakes, failures, and setbacks as a gift. What’s the gift? That’s for you to seek, there will definitely be an opportunity for growth if you are prepared to search for the lesson in every situation.

4 – Take Personal Responsibility By Refusing to Take Everything Personally

This is a big one… when you assume everything is about you, you see every disagreement as an attack on you personally. That’s not the energy you want if you want to take personal responsibility. You can’t control how others respond, you can control how you respond.

Stop taking everything so personally. Ultimately, their reaction or response is probably not about you personally, but about the issue you are dealing with. Don’t make assumptions about their response, instead, take it as an opportunity to ask questions and learn. It’s not just a powerful practice, it’s a liberating one.

5 – Take Personal Responsibility By Making Yourself Happy

You are responsible for your own happiness; it is something that comes from within you. It is not your partner’s job to make you happy. It is not your children’s job to make you happy. Nor is it the charge of your boss, co-worker, friends, therapist, or minister. It’s on you. Happiness is a conscious decision and taking personal responsibility for your own happiness and discover a whole new world.

6 – Take Personal Responsibility By Living In the Moment

You only get one opportunity to live life. It’s happening right now. You can’t change your past nor can you predict the future, the only thing you can do is live in the moment. So, take personal responsibility for the moment you are living in now and make the best of it. By doing so you can help create the future you’d like to live in.

It’s up to you to gate-keep your thoughts, actions, feelings, and words. If the tens of thousands of thoughts you had yesterday didn’t advance your goals, then try to think a different series of tens of thousands of thoughts today. Choose carefully when it comes to your feelings, thoughts, words, and actions. If it isn’t serving you, shake it off, and try again.

7 – Take Personal Responsibility By Living Intentionally

It’s within your power to choose. You make decisions all the time. You choose whether to start your day with a hot cup of tea or an ice-cold coffee. You decide whether to wear your hair down or up. You decide whether to skip breakfast or make time for cereal. In fact, you often make a choice by not making a choice, like when you decide to skip a gym outing.

A big part of taking personal responsibility is being intentional. You should have a vision for your health, relationships, career, wealth, and overall life. Moving forward, you can live intentionally by deliberating choosing the things that will advance your vision.

8 – Take Personal Responsibility By Living Confidently and Calmly

An important aspect of personal responsibility is finding confidence and calm. It’s easy to feel calm when you know you’re in charge of your life. It’s easy to feel confident when you brush off victim-mode and act with intention.

9 – Take Personal Responsibility By Looking For the Good

We often judge others based on behavior even though we are more likely to judge ourselves based on our intentions. So, you give yourself the benefit of the doubt, but you don’t extend the same energy to others. Instead of immediately looking for the bad in others, start looking for the good. It’s easier to see others are human when we extend the same kindness to them.

Final Thoughts

We often admire others for their personal responsibility. We enjoy being around people who take responsibility for their actions without making excuses or blaming others.

Yet, we struggle to embody the same characteristics. Personal responsibility is important – it will improve how others view you at home and at work, and it will improve how you see yourself as well.

Make a conscious decision to work at building the traits commonly found in personally responsible people and take steps to increase your sense of personal responsibility. It might not be easy at first, but it will be worth it as you gain trust and build stronger relationships.

Stay responsible and take care!