Most of us believe that we are responsible individuals. We work hard and do what we can to take care of the people and things that are important to us.
Yet despite our best efforts, how many of us feel energized throughout the day? Are we engaged in our work and thriving in our relationships?
On a larger scale, how well are we prepared to deal with unexpected, chaotic, or life-threatening events that though remote, can happen at any time in today’s world?
You may be surprised to learn that becoming a totally responsible individual is the most powerful thing you can do to enhance every aspect of your life, including your ability to do what is needed in almost any situation. But don’t worry, it does not mean that you have to assume more responsibility.
Becoming a totally responsible individual does require you to make taking care of yourself a top priority. It means that you have to stop doing things that diminish your wellbeing and start doing things that make you feel better in five key areas. As Will Rogers said, “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”
Sound interesting? Or are you concerned that focusing on yourself may seem a little selfish? Then consider why airlines instruct you, should cabin pressure drop, to put the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting another person. If you can’t breathe, you can’t help anyone else.
The Five Behaviors of a Totally Responsible Individual
1) Get enough rest. The single most important thing you can do to enhance your wellbeing is to get proper rest. You must sleep long enough on a daily basis to refresh your mind and body and indulge in leisure activities that refresh your mind and spirit. A lack of sleep compromises your ability to think clearly, make effective decisions, and take appropriate action. If you need an alarm clock to start your day, go to bed a little earlier each night until you can naturally wake up on time. When you can wake yourself up with time to spare, you are getting enough sleep.
Think of leisure time as a necessity, not a luxury. Having fun keeps us young at heart and reduces stress. Proper rest includes spending time alone, and engaging in social and physical activities that help us relax, rejuvenate, laugh, smile, and daydream.
2) Eat what your body needs. What, when, where, and how much we eat can be emotionally charged issues. Take responsibility for how you feel about food and the choices you make in selecting and preparing what you eat. Step up to the plate and do your research on the kind of foods you need to stay alert and do your best. Try new recipes and restaurants. And get enough rest so that you have the energy, enthusiasm, and clarity of mind to plan your meals.
3) Get moving. Regular exercise not only keeps your body in top condition, it builds your self-esteem and self-confidence. Working up a good sweat cleanses your body of impurities. It also strengthens your immune system.
Being physically fit improves your ability to handle emotional, mental, and physical challenges. Both aerobic and strength training are necessary to be in good shape but check with your doctor to make sure you are doing the type of exercises that are right for your fitness level.
Breathing from the diaphragm also is essential for maximum performance. It delivers more oxygenated blood to the brain, lowers blood pressure, and reduces fatigue.
4) Learn new things. Have you heard the saying “if you don’t use it, you lose it”? To be a totally responsible individual, you have to keep your mind sharp and continuously broaden your knowledge base. To stimulate your brain cells, you may need to go back to school, volunteer your time to a community project, or read more books and watch less television. Learning and experiencing more in life will make you a more creative problem solver and pay unexpected dividends, especially if you participate in a diverse range of activities.
5) Build Your Relationships. The fundamental basis of being a totally responsible individual rests on the way you see your fellow man. Growing your area of influence through good relationships is part of being a responsible individual. Remember, being more successful isn’t necessarily about working harder. It is about setting a direction and enhancing your position so that you can get where you want to go.
Be as clear as you can about who you are and what you want to do. Find a mentor or friend you can talk to about your goals and ask for help or guidance. Spend time with people who support your efforts and inspire your dreams. Ask them to help you advance your career. Be interested in their goals and do what you can to support them.
How to Get Started
Becoming a totally responsible individual is a life-long adventure. The tools you need are self-confidence, discipline, and most importantly, the courage to change. But human behavior is complex. If it was easy to change–everyone would do it!
Begin with a goal you can accomplish from where you are today. Ask yourself, “What one behavior can I change to start my transformation?”
Success breeds success, so choose something that will be reasonably easy to change, not the hardest thing on your list. Once you have chosen, write it down. Then write about why you want to change this behavior, and what you are going to do to make it happen. A week or month later, write down how well you did. If you didn’t do as well as you wanted, choose a smaller aspect of that behavior that you can do differently and start again.
If you become frustrated with your progress, or “fall off the wagon” on occasion, understand that change is a process. It takes continuous practice to change the way we do things, particularly when we have to make different choices. What you can do is be patient and persistent. Just keep making an effort while you keep your eye on the goal.
In time, you will take greater risks. You will have the energy to help others achieve their goals and not feel burdened. You will be well rested, fit, knowledgeable, and enjoy better relationships. In fact, you may discover that there is nothing holding you back from anything you want to try.
For additional information contact Encore Consulting Group.
Jim Dawson trains professionals in the successful strategies of leadership, communications, and management. You can reach him at [email protected].