Practicing self care last week, I read “Chicken Soup for the College Soul” by Jack Canfield. One story in particular stuck with me, “The Thought Card”. In that submission by Hanoch McCarty, he writes about a unique college professor he had. That professor required his students to bring a notecard with any thought they had that morning written on it as their entrance ticket to class on Tuesdays. One day the author brings in a note that says, “I am the son of an idiot!” after having a fight with his father that morning. The professor returned his notecard the following day with this comment, “What does the ‘son of an idiot’ do with the rest of his life?”
The story continues to show that people have two options in life: to blame someone else when life doesn’t go your way, or take responsibility for your life and create the one you want. While the first option is definitely easier, I have found that option two is much more worthwhile.
It is easier to believe that you have no close friends because everyone else is heartless and doesn’t invite you to hang out than to take responsibility and initiate a plan to hang out with them.
It is easier to believe that it is the fault of the slow driver in front of you for being late to work than take responsibility that you decided to stop for coffee on the way in, taking away any spare minutes you had.
It is easier to believe that you are broke because the “system” is rigged against you than to take responsibility for your finances and manage your money.
Taking responsibility for your life is simple, but it sure is not easy. What I have learned in the last year of working out regularly is that the easy workouts never give me the results I am striving for, it is the workouts that push my limits, that challenge me that give me those results.
Do you really want to spend each day living passively, letting life happen TO you? Again, that is your choice, but personally I much prefer to create the life I want.
It is okay to struggle in this journey, taking responsibility isn’t something that you do once and you are done, it is something you need to work on every single day. Say for example, you haven’t talked to one of your closest friends in six months, you need to accept that you haven’t tried to reach out to them. Maybe you were late to work today, you need to accept that hitting the snooze button five times doesn’t work like it did in high school. Or maybe you are feeling stressed about making this month’s rent payment, you need to accept that going out one meal a day is where your rent money went. Humor me and notice that instead of losing five pounds like your workout program advertised, you gained three pounds, you need to accept that your cheat meal turned into a cheat weekend.
One of my mentors told me in high school, “You are free to make any choice you would like, but you are not free from the consequences of that choice.”
Consequences don’t have to be a negative, they are simply the result of the choice. When you graduate college, which consequences would you like to have?
- Leaving college with your degree in hand, but having no connections or having a dozen great college friends and mentors? (See Tip #9 and Tip #13).
- Leaving college with half the cost of a house in student loans or a small loan (or maybe even debt free) because you filled out scholarships and worked through school? (See Tip #12)
- Leaving college with recollections of fun weekend nights or a high GPA because you spent many Friday and Saturday nights doing coursework rather than going out? (See Tip #2, Tip #3, Tip #4, and Tip #6)
- Leaving college unsure of what career you would like to follow or a strong resume and lots of experience in a variety of fields because you got involved? (See Tip #1 and Tip #11)
- Leaving college and spending all of your time at work trying to get ahead or being able to find a work/life balance because you practiced setting boundaries in college? (See Tip #10)
- Leaving college full of regrets wishing you would have spent your last few years differently or a sigh of relief that your hard work has paid off?
Taking responsibility for your life is all about starting the right habits. Today is as good of a day as any to start a new habit. What consequences do you want to have?
If you enjoyed reading this, check out my previous tips:
Anna is a junior at St. Cloud State University and is double majoring in Math Education and Spanish Education, with a minor in Special Education. She is the Managing Editor for the University Chronicle this year. When she is not at campus attending class, working as a learning assistant or math tutor, or writing for the University Chronicle, she enjoys volunteering, reading, being overly competitive at board games, and telling horribly funny puns.