14 Reasons Why Personal Responsibility is Important


You might be wondering why personal responsibility is important, especially when the world appears to be out of control.

Personal responsibility matters because it gives us the power to control our lives and aim towards our best possible selves. Most of what happens in the world is out of our control, but if we focus on what we can control, we will have better outcomes.

The system has screwed over young people today; they were born into a world of zero growth where the price of everything has been increasing faster than their wages.

While it might feel like we have been punched in the face, here are 14 ways personal responsibility can make a huge difference in your life. 

1) Our Accomplishments Stem From Our Commitments

The most crucial reason why personal responsibility matters is that what we can accomplish comes from our commitments. In other words, what we put our energy into now is what will define us in the future. What we committed to in the past, is informing what we are able to do now.

It isn’t always easy to see what we are accomplishing in the here and now, so we tend to take a longer view of our progress. We may value our effort today and derive a sense of satisfaction from it, but in the longer run, the fact that we finished something will be a more significant accomplishment.

There are so many things that we can not control, but what matters for our sense of self and accomplishment is the things that we have done through our efforts. To do anything, we must accept that we have the power to do it, and then we must commit to doing it.

2) Our Word Determines How Others See Us

Another reason why personal responsibility is required is that the things we say determine how other people perceive us. Put another way, we are our word, so if we make promises and don’t keep them, people won’t trust or respect us in the future. If we say we will do something and we don’t then people won’t be able to trust what we say.

We are responsible for our actions, but we are also responsible for what we say; at the same time, our words usually inform our actions. In this sense, how we say we will be is almost as important as how we are. If we want to give a good impression and get respect from the people around us, we need to be consistent and take personal responsibility for our words.

It is easy to make a promise, but it is difficult to keep it. People will value our actions more than our words, but they will always remember our words when our efforts don’t match. We need to be responsible for what we say because if we aren’t, our words lose their value.

3) Personal Accountability Encourages Growth

The realization that we are personally responsible for ourselves means that who we are or who we will become is in our hands. If we blame other people or the world around us, we can never learn from our mistakes or see what we have done wrong. If we want to improve, we need to be able to learn from our mistakes, so we need to be able to realize we’ve made a mistake.

Growth is all about getting better and improving at the things that we deem valuable. Realizing that you are accountable for what you have done encourages growth because it puts the power to improve in your hands rather than someone else’s.

Personal responsibility is important because understanding where we can improve or where we have made mistakes shows us a path towards growth and a better future. Without personal accountability, we can’t improve because if we aren’t accountable to ourselves, who are we developing for?

4) We Learn to Accept What We Can’t Change

When you take personal responsibility for your actions and the things you do in the world, you come to a better realization of what you have control over. These days there is so much wrong with the world, and things seem to be spiralling out of control, this may be true, but that doesn’t have to be something that consumes us.

For myself, when I look at the world around me and things that are happening, it is clear that something is terribly wrong. I can talk to people about some of these problems and try to convince them of what needs to be done, but many problems are bigger than me and everyone I know. This is an important realization, as there is a lot that we can’t do anything about, but there are tons of things that we can do a lot about.

Once we take personal responsibility for our actions and the things we do, we start to realize what we have control over. While at first, it feels terrible to learn that we have made mistakes, it also frees us in the sense that it makes it clear what we don’t have control over. Once we are accountable to ourselves, the difference between what we can control and can’t become more evident; with this realization, we learn to accept what we can’t change and put all of our energy into what we can change.

5) We Realize We Have Failed When it is Our Fault

I know a lot of people who blame the world for everything that goes wrong in their lives. The truth is, there are lots of things that affect us every day that we have no control over. However, if we always blame things outside of ourselves, we will never see where we have made mistakes and could have made different decisions.

I had no control over where I was born or the people around me during the early parts of my life, but I did have a choice about showing up to school and paying attention. It is simple to blame someone else for our mistakes, but if we do that we don’t learn from them.

Taking personal responsibility is important because it helps us distinguish between the things that are our fault and the things that are not. With this realization in mind, we can learn from our mistakes and failures. If we always blame others for our mistakes then we never have anything to learn, however, that is the only way to improve.

6) Persistence is Required for Achievement

When we set a goal, we create a target for ourselves; having a target helps us work out a plan of action. Often things are more complicated than we realize or take longer than we intended. For this reason, persistence is required for virtually any significant achievement.

By taking personal responsibility, we put our faith in our actions and accept that it is our fault if we don’t follow through. Without follow-through, almost any project is destined to fail, yet working hard for a long time is always a challenge that would be easier to avoid.

Whenever we want to give up, we can look back at what we have promised ourselves to do, and that will be the encouragement we need to keep going. If we don’t keep ourselves responsible, then there is no way that we will keep on working on what matters. Personal responsibility is important because if we don’t have it, we won’t keep up the persistence that is required to finish what we start.

7) Taking Ownership of Our Circumstances is Empowering

Years ago, I worked at a job that I hated and had no ambition for. I remember thinking at the time that no one was giving me the opportunities that I wanted. So instead of taking action, I blamed other people. However, the truth was that I didn’t know what I wanted, so no one would have been able to help me anyways.

When I later realized that the job was making me unhappy and I had the power to quit and do something different everything changed. So I took a job in Korea and lived there for a year. Although the job wasn’t great, the experience was unparalleled and helped me clear my mind and gain some direction.

Personal responsibility is important because while there are parts of our lives that we can’t control, there are always aspects that we can. Once we accept this and take ownership of our situation, we are empowered to change the things we don’t like and improve our lives.

8) We Gain Trust When We Take Responsibility For Our Failures

Everyone fails, and sometimes we make promises that we can’t keep; however, what we do when we fail determines how our friends and family will see us. It is easy to point the blame somewhere else when we make a mistake, but if people know that we will always deny responsibility, they won’t trust us in the future.

One time a friend invited me to a basketball game, he had asked weeks in advance but I forgot about it when the time came to go. An hour before the game, he called me and asked where I was; unfortunately, I was out and there was no way I could make it in time. I had two choices at that point, I could blame him for not reminding me, or I could acknowledge that it was my fault for not writing it down and planning ahead.

Personal responsibility is important because if we screw up and blame someone else, our friends won’t trust us in the future. When we fail our friends, we need to realize that we have made a mistake, apologies and promise ourselves to take better care in the future. If we don’t and make more mistakes, our friends will lose their trust in us.

9) We Can Unlearn Lessons From Childhood

Sometimes our parents screw up and teach us the wrong sorts of lessons. When these teachings don’t stop, we adopt them and make them our own. Then when we have kids, we repeat what we have learnt and make the same mistakes our parents made.

We can’t undo or unlearn some stuff, but there are things that we have control over and can do better. If we don’t take personal responsibility for our actions and blame our parents or teachers, then we can’t change ourselves and do better. Only after accepting responsibility for what we are doing and who we are, can we gain the power over ourselves to change our ways.

Personal responsibility is important because it helps us realize the lessons we learnt as children that we are reenacting today. Once we realize that we don’t have to do the same things our parents did, we can change our actions and do better. There are elements of us that are out of our control, but we will never seek improvement if we only focus on those things.

10) Freedom To Focus On What Matters

As I’ve said a few times before, we can’t control some things, such as the weather, but if it is raining and we don’t bring an umbrella or raincoat, we are going to get wet. Learning to take personal responsibility gives us the freedom to focus on what matters and what we can do something about.

We can’t control the weather, but if we realize that our comfort is up to us, then we can prepare before we go outside. The weather is a small thing, but it is representative of everything that we can’t control. Once we make the distinction, then we can focus our efforts on the things that we can change and make a difference about.

Personal responsibility is important because when we stop focusing on the things we can’t control, we enable ourselves to put energy towards the things that we can. Focusing on what matters comes down to forgetting about what we can’t do anything about.

11) We are Responsible For What We Know

Sometimes school can be a total waste of time, and after going to school for 20 years, we might feel like there is someone else to blame when we don’t know something we are supposed to know. But if we don’t take responsibility for what we know, we have no reason to learn new or useful skills.

When I went to college, I was a good student, but I became a more skilled programmer because I kept trying to learn more about how to do build more complex code. If I didn’t take responsibility for what I knew, I wouldn’t have ever been able to get a job as a web developer because my skills would have been limited.

Personal responsibility is important for our education because if we rely on what someone else tells us to learn, we will never have a chance to know what is important to us. If we watch irrelevant videos all day, we shouldn’t be surprised when we can’t do the things we are trying to do. 

12) We Have More Reasonable Expectations of Other People

When we learn to take personal responsibility for our actions, we gain an understanding of what we and other people can be expected to do. When we put all the fault of folly on external factors, it will be more difficult to assess other people’s abilities and what we should expect from them.

It is important that we realize what we and others can do and have control over. If we are always misdirecting blame or responsibility, then making sense of people’s actions becomes impossible.

Personal responsibility is important because it helps us realize what we can control and expect others to have control over. When we have a fair understanding of other people, we will know what to expect from them and won’t be disappointed as much if they let us down.

13) Responsibility Helps Us Get What We Want

Without personal responsibility, we can’t get what we want. Put another way, if we don’t have a goal, or aren’t working towards something, then it won’t ever come. Being responsible for ourselves and our actions means that we can’t skip or ignore what matters; instead, we must focus on it.

If we don’t take responsibility for ourselves or our actions, we will never dedicate time to what we want or what is important to us. Without effort or focus, it is impossible to get what we want.

Personal responsibility is important because it forces us to take ourselves seriously and work towards what we want.

14) Without Responsibility Success isn’t Satisfying

If you were to win the lottery, you would be happy to be freed of work and all your previous responsibilities, but you might also waste all the money because you didn’t earn it. Put another way, if someone hands you what you are working for, and you don’t have to earn it, you won’t enjoy it as much. If this happened once, it would be ok, but it would undoubtedly lose its appeal if it happened all the time.

When we learn what we can control and can’t, we know where our efforts are effective and where they are not. At the same time, if we see that all the good that comes our way comes from someone else, we may start to feel resentment. Imagine you worked against your something, but still achieved it; would that feel good?

Personal responsibility is important because we know we have done the work to earn the rewards we get. People sometimes say that it isn’t the destination but rather the journey that matters. So getting the rewards without the effort may feel nice at first, but ultimately, it will become dissatisfying.

Much of what is going on in the world around us has the effect of convincing us that we have no power over anything. If we let this happen too much, we give away our power and prevent ourselves from getting what we truly want. When we take responsibility for ourselves, we realize that the world doesn’t have to be the way it is, because another world is possible.

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Robert Carr

Over the years, I've learnt to see things in a different light. This website is my place to share those insights and give my unique perspective on living a meaningful life.

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