The Four Things You Need to Stop Doing to Own Your Life and Achieve Your Goals

photo credit: Stop via photopin (license)

photo credit: Stop via photopin (license)

Achieving your goals and creating the life that you want means giving up a few of the things that may have been keeping you stuck. In this post, life coach, mother of four, dancer and author Shelley Brunskill-Matson breaks down the four things you need to stop doing to start owning your own life, and gives a few hard truths for taking responsibility, and making your goals a reality.

State New Zealand Swimming Awards, 12 April 2014

Shelley Brunskill-Matson

To achieve your goals, you need to own and be responsible for your own life. This means you need to stop doing these four things:

  • STOP blaming others (as you, and only you, are responsible)
  • STOP complaining (now that you own your feelings, there’s no longer a need to justify them to others)
  • STOP making excuses (as you no longer need to make excuses)
  • STOP caring what others think and achieve your goals (now that you are happily responsible for the choices you make).

Let’s take a moment to explore each of these.

  1. Stop blaming others

How often do you hear people complain about their situations, or about something someone else has done to them? ‘I can’t believe she did that …’ or ‘How am I supposed to be happy when he keeps …’

Some people spend their entire lives moaning and complaining about unhappy experiences in their past and blaming their problems or current circumstances on other people.

It is easy to unknowingly fall into the trap of holding other people responsible for what happens in our life and how we consequently feel. On some level it makes us feel better about ourselves.

Parents are the most popular targets. Even as adults, most people feel some degree of anger toward one or both parents, for something they did — or did not — do during one’s childhood.

‘Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.’— Anne Frank

Think about someone in your life with whom you are angry. It may be your spouse, a friend, or a parent. Be clear about why you are angry — what have they done? How do your feelings around this ‘fit’ with the idea that, ultimately, you and only you, are responsible for how you feel and behave?

What shift do you need to make (you, not the other person) if you are to truly start taking responsibility for your own life? How will this shift change how you feel in relation to the other person?

When you take responsibility for your own thoughts, actions and emotions, you no longer need to blame others. You stop giving your power away. You realize that you, and you alone, are fully responsible for what is in your life (the good and also the not-so-good).

  1. Stop complaining

‘You are where you are today because you have chosen to be there.’ — Harry Browne

Think about it. You are where you are today, because of the decisions you have made in your life up until now. Not as a consequence of what happened to you when you were a child, or what your parents did or did not do, but because of the decisions you have made and the ways you have chosen to react or respond to the consequences of these decisions.

Don’t allow ‘her’ to upset you. Stop letting ‘him’ frustrate you. Taking responsibility for your life includes taking responsibility for your emotions. Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quote, ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,’ reinforces this too.

Enjoying this post? Watch a free video with the author, Shelley Brunskill-Matson, where she explains some of her most effective tips for getting motivated, feeling empowered, and achieving your goals. Click here.

No one can ‘make you feel’ a certain way. Only you can. As soon as you start taking full responsibility for your life, you will find you have nothing left to complain about. Imagine yourself complaint-free. How different would that be? How much ‘lighter’ would you feel?

I encourage you to listen to yourself very carefully from now on. If you hear yourself complaining about anything at all, stop, and reflect on what’s going on — what are you not taking responsibility for here?

Rather than complaining, use that same energy to identify a thought pattern that is more appropriate for someone who is now taking full responsibility. Become a complaint-free zone. Notice the shift in how you feel. Enjoy the lightness.

  1. Stop making excuses

People spend too much energy finding excuses for not being what they are capable of being, and not enough energy putting themselves on the line, growing out of the past, and getting on with their lives.’ — J. Michael Straczynski

Much of our complaining is us justifying our negative emotions – ‘I am only this upset because she didn’t even have the courtesy to …’ or ‘I can’t believe he would do this to me …’ But if you are in control of your life, including how you choose to react and respond to the actions of mothers, then what’s there to complain about?

Making excuses is common practice. Why? For most people, making excuses is a habit; an automatic, self-protective mechanism that enables them to continue to feel good about themselves, when things don’t go their way in life.

Excuses provide us with an ‘out’: typically an externally based nothing-to-do-with-us reason for non-performance.

Excuses allow us to rationalize what might otherwise be seen as a failure, and keep us feeling good about ourselves. In so doing, they keep us from having to own or take responsibility for our shortcomings. However, they also keep us ‘living small’.

When you start taking full responsibility for your life, you will no longer make excuses. You will step up and own your actions when things don’t go your way. You will no longer require reasons or justifications to explain why you can’t go after whatever you want in life. You won’t need to: you will be out there doing it!

Start tuning into the people around you and notice when and where people are making excuses. You will soon realize how prevalent this practice is. Become aware of your own behavior too.

When things don’t quite go your way, listen to your internal voice. Choose to become an ‘excuse-free zone’. Consider the following:

  • What excuses do you typically use?
  • What excuses are you hiding behind right now?
  • What is really stopping you from having, being or doing all that you could?
  • What is a more appropriate response for someone who is now taking full responsibility for their life?
  1. Stop caring what others think and achieve your goals

Worrying about what others think can be a real hindrance. ‘What will they think if I …?’ or ‘Can you imagine what she’d say if I …?’

It’s as though people’s own wants or desires become secondary to those of everyone else. At the end of the day, whose life is this?

It’s not always easy to ignore the opinions of others, but it is a skill that, like any, gets easier the more we do it. Sure, you may still be aware of others’ views, but the key is to stop letting those views influence your decisions about your own life. After all, you and only you — no one else — can be responsible for your life.

The next time you have a decision to make, be aware of the extent to which you are letting other people’s views impact on your decision making. Does it really matter what others think? Are you allowing their view to be more important to you than your own?

Awareness of someone else’s perspective is one thing, but ultimately — given that you alone are responsible for the choices you make — allow yourself the privilege of making decisions based only on what you personally think and feel is right for you. Notice how empowering this is.

‘It is not what happens to you but how you respond to what happens that determines whether you are happy or unhappy.’ — Brian Tracy

WhatAreYouWaitingFor_150dpiShelley Brunskill-Matson is the author of “What Are You Waiting For?” - a guide to discovering what you want in life, and making it happen now.

More from Shelley Brunskill-Matson

  • Watch this video where Shelley shares some of her top tips for achieving your goals and overcoming what has been holding you back.