“I can’t stick to a schedule because I have too many other things/people/chores that need my attention.”
“If he was more supportive, then I would be more driven.”
“I rarely ever get to do the things I want to do because she always makes me feel guilty.”
“If they didn’t hold me back, I could grow.”
“Someday . . . when I’m less busy or less tired, when I’ve saved enough money, when the kids are in school/out of school/away at college, when summer/winter/Christmas is over, when I’m more organized and fully prepared, when I’m retired . . . THEN I’ll be able to get more serious about my own goals.”
Do any of these statements sound familiar? If you’ve experienced that stuck-in-a-rut feeling that I mentioned last week, chances are good you’ve found yourself using some derivative of at least one of them. I, myself, have thought or felt several of these, as well as many others, at different points in my life.
For a long time, I was big on blame, resistant to taking responsibility. But once I made the decision to be more purposeful about both my WIP novel manuscript and my WIP personal development, I realized that meant turning my perpetually pointed finger in my own direction. I realized that A Purposeful WIP Acknowledges Accountability.
This was one of the first obstacles I needed to face in my effort to move forward and make progress and it was and continues to be a struggle for me. I’d much rather lay the blame at someone else’s feet than admit that the reasons for my inertia are often of my own making. I am much more comfortable playing the role of helpless victim than declaring myself the self-sabotaging villain. But progress requires a certain amount of discomfort and so into the mirror I looked.
I saw many things when I really paid attention. I saw fear, both of failure and success. I saw years of harbored grudges and unforgiveness and resentment—for others and my past self—so old and heavy it was like dragging around an extra limb oozing with bitterness and blame. But the biggest truth reflected back at me was that my progress—or lack thereof—had little to do with anyone else and everything to do with myself. It was my own self-limiting beliefs and misplaced priorities that held me back. One fed into the other, contributing to that vicious cycle of perpetual immobility and stunting any opportunity for growth. I believed I couldn’t make progress, I believed I couldn’t change, I believed I couldn’t succeed, and so I did everything in my power—including giving up that power—in order to create that reality.
And that’s what all of the above statements do. They give control of our lives to our circumstances, to other people, to our past experiences. It’s said that knowledge is power. Well, so too is acknowledgement. If excuses and blame relinquish our power, then simply acknowledging our accountability, and furthermore our tendencies to shirk that accountability, is the first step in taking it back.
So, if you find yourself held hostage by the belief that your growth, your progress, your life is at the mercy of someone or something else, I encourage you to take a closer look. Maybe the guilt you sense from that other person is actually emanating from yourself. Maybe all those tasks and chores that you use as distractions and to keep yourself busy aren’t actually all that important. Maybe you do have some precious time in your schedule to work on you and your goals, but you just need to use it more wisely. Whatever go-to excuse that you employ for renouncing responsibility for your life, own up to it. Stop giving it your power and start making progress.
What small step can you take to acknowledge accountability?