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Taking Ownership of Your Life and Career

“And you may ask yourself, ‘Well…how did I get here?’” ~ The Talking Heads, “Once in a Lifetime”

These song lyrics have me thinking about how we all make choices each and every day in our lives. These choices can be seemingly small, from what we eat for breakfast to where we go to work, and they each add up to the bigger picture called “your life.”

It’s easy to just keep doing what is comfortable or familiar and this can leads to contentment for some or heading down an unsatisfactory path for others. Take the breakfast example: do you grab that cup of coffee and a pastry from the drive through on the way to work, then later wonder why you don’t have enough energy? Sure, it’s delicious and fast and gets your day started, but is it what’s best for you? It very well may be, though you might be hard pressed to find a doctor who agrees with you. What I’m getting at is that these are choices you can control to have the life you desire.

Yep, Oprah

It feels impossible to talk about taking ownership of one’s life without mentioning talk show queen Oprah Winfrey. Ms. Winfrey has, by many measures, had a wildly successful career and life in spite of a hardscrabble childhood. And what she found along her path to this success was that she was responsible for how her life turned out.

“If you’re sitting around waiting on somebody to save you, to fix you, to even help you, you are wasting your time because only you have the power to take responsibility to move your life forward,” she says in an article and video on Huffington Post. “The sooner you get that, the sooner your life gets into gear.”

Just Do It

Whether you need a break from caregiving or a change from the 9 to 5 grind, life coach Stefanie Zizzo has five tips for you to get going:

  1. Determine what you want-- not what you feel you should do/have, but what you truly want for your life—how you want to be, what you want to have and do

  2. Decide what you have full control over—which of your wants can happen without anyone else having to do/be anything, without any circumstances being any different. What can happen immediately once you put your mind to it, decide it and do it

  3. Understand where you have influence –how, by changing your approach, your behavior, your interactions – you can influence those around you which can get you closer to what it is you truly want

  4. Make no excuses –no blaming others or circumstances for what you don’t have

  5. Set daily intentions—ways you will be, things you will do each day toward the things you want

When you take ownership, Ms. Zizzo says, you are in the driver’s seat of your life. “There is no one better than you to determine what is right/good/best for you,” she says. And, yes she says, things can happen when you leave your life in the hands of others:

  • You may be given opportunity you don’t want

  • You may be waiting a very long time to get what you want (if it ever comes)

  • You may be working against the very thing you want by focusing on what has not happened yet

In contrast, when you take ownership, these are the possibilities Ms. Zizzo sees:

  1. You get more of what you want, because you determined it and are working toward it day to day

  2. You go much farther in life because you are taking an active role in your life instead of a passive one

  3. Your life is richer and fuller

Reena Sharma, owner of Homewatch CareGivers in Nassau County, NY, took ownership of her career when she left corporate consulting and Wall Street after 20 years. “When I thought about where I was to spend my energy and time, I really thought about a market that has the need,” she says. “It’s so important to have a passion for what you do.” Watch her video here.

What will you do to take ownership of your life?

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