By Charlotte de Brabandt

These three words can change your work, career and personal life: I am responsible. By acting on this phrase, you give yourself power to make things happen the way you want them to. If you acknowledge that you are responsible for your actions, you take ownership, and in doing so, everything that happens, whether good or bad, can be developed with the best solutions.

Taking responsibility, and in turn, ownership, doesn’t come easy to everyone. But by working at it and developing your instincts, it’s achievable. One problem can be falling into the all-too-easy trap of putting the blame on circumstances when something doesn’t go our way. But, by choosing to avoid this trap, we not only behave in a far better manner, but we are more positive and more aware.

By giving yourself the power of responsibility over your actions, you also will be more aware of the things you do that cause procrastination — things that cause you not to be focused at work, not achieving your goals or missing deadlines. Think how often you (or people you know) have said or thought: “I know what I need to do; I’m just not doing it.” This occurs because you haven’t taken ownership of your actions. You can’t expect things to “just happen;” you need to take the initiative. It is important to focus on the goals which you would like to achieve and setting yourself a deadline by when it needs to get done.

How do you develop the mindset of taking ownership? One idea is to create a list of things in your life (including work and career) that aren’t ideal. Consider how your actions were the cause or are contributing to this. In doing so, you are not blaming anyone else. Instead, realize how you could have changed the results, and learn for the next time. Perhaps you’ll want to repeat to yourself, “This is my responsibility.”

Another idea: Continually challenge yourself by doing something outside your comfort zone — and take ownership of your actions. Look for chances to test yourself. Develop self-discipline. For example, if you participate in a stretch assignment and lead a project from another department, it may be challenging getting to know different team members and tasks. But the experience will help demonstrate to yourself your ability to take responsibility.

The more often you do these actions, the easier it will become to take ownership. Taking control will come naturally. And, if you continue the momentum created by taking ownership of what you do, you can achieve much more.

Applying this mindset to all parts of your life — work, career and personal — can bring exciting results and much success. In the future, when a situation isn’t going the way you want it to, remember to put yourself back in control, take responsibilities for your actions and own the situation.

Charlotte de Brabandt is a member of Institute for Supply Management®’s (ISM®) Thought Leadership Council.

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