“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Victor Frankl wrote this in Man’s Search for Meaning, his harrowing account of life in the Nazi concentration camps. Frankl was also a brilliant psychiatrist and founder of logotherapy, a type of psychotherapy that stems from the belief that ‘striving to find meaning in life is the primary and most powerful driving force in humans.’ His teachings, among other great psychologists of his time, intrigued me to dive more into the realm of understanding and applying personal responsibility.
First, let’s define personal responsibility.
Per the internet: Personal responsibility is the idea that human beings choose, instigate, or otherwise cause their own actions.
This seems fairly straight forward right? So, why don’t we all employ personal responsibility in all areas of our lives?
Like everything worth giving a shit about, personal responsibility is hard. It’s much easier to blame circumstances, or your genetics, or your relationships, or your job or that one thing that happened in 5thgrade… the list could go on forever. No one is immune to feeling sorry for themselves and we all play the victim card sometimes. But think about how disempowering is it to cast the blame on outside circumstances we can’t control when instead we could put our focus on what actions we do take or don’t take in our lives.
Personal responsibility effects every single facet of our lives. For the purposes of this article and within the context of coaching, I’ll cover a few instances we see this play out with clients diet, training and lifestyle.
One of the most common scenarios is someone who has a history of yo-yo dieting and has ‘tried everything’ without success. They will blame the specific diet for their lack of success, not their lack of foundational knowledge or poor habits. Surely, there are a handful of downright terrible diets. But outside of the extreme plans and methods, most people’s problems lie within the fact that they don’t have any foundational food education and continue to engage in poor habits that set them up for failure.
No meal plan or quick fix detox will fix that. Until you take responsibility for learning the basics, no diet will work and you will always be spinning your wheels.
The same could be said for getting consistent with training. It’s easy to blame being tired or being stressed with work. But is that really it? Or are you f**king around at night and have a terrible sleep schedule, which influences how you manage your work day, which creates unnecessary stress? Creating the right routine that works for your life and lifestyle is always the first step.
Dial in your nighttime routine. Set a literal bedtime if you find yourself staying up late and then rushing in the morning. Put away your phone and create the right environment to get quality sleep.
Decide when you’re going to train. Are you getting it done before or after work, and then adjust your schedule appropriately. It doesn’t matter when you train, but you need to be realistic about what you will actually get done.
Organize your work day so you get more done in less amount of time. If you’re consistently sleeping, training and eating right, you’ll also be much more focused and productive.
These are just a few, easy examples of how taking personal responsibility for your actions can completely reshape your life, your fitness and how you feel. It’s incredibly easy to slip into bad habits, but being healthy is not as time consuming as you might think The best lesson we can teach our clients is to be personally responsible for their actions to help them take back control of their health and create long lasting change, which is why it’s something we take seriously.