Picture this: Your room is a mess, your parents keep nagging you to pick up. Your chores from yesterday didn’t get done, you woke up late and when you got to school you realize you forgot your essay on the printer at home and you forgot to get some cash so you could have lunch. You tell your parents your chores were finished (hopefully they won’t check, you’ll do it after school). You arrive to class, tardy yet again, and start telling the teacher that you overslept, and spin some story on the missing essay…blah blah blah. You get the idea.
What we have here is someone being immature, untrustworthy and full of excuses. You may have friends like this…you know the ones. They flake out on plans, don’t do what they say they will do, don’t return what they borrow and can’t keep a secret for their life. You may even recognize this as you! Don’t panic. This is part of being a teen on the verge of “growing up”. The good news is, it’s not rocket science to turn the corner and take charge. The sooner you (or your flaky friend) makes the choice to own their life, the sooner your life becomes yours to handle (much better than a nagging parent or disapproving teacher or boss)! Once you step up and really own your life, and others catch on that you have done this…well, they don’t get up in your business. So, what are you waiting for? Take the step into maturity and start to build your life.
It may be a tad frustrating at first. Family, teachers, even friends may wonder what’s going on and what alien took you away. They may stand by sort of holding their breath, waiting for you to fall into old behavior. Check to see if the change is real. That’s where consistency comes in. Ultimately, taking these steps, is for your self benefit. It’s your life, right? So take control. What does being responsible look like?
The simple answer is really 3 things. That’s it. Do these 3 things consistently and with honesty and watch how people shift in how they treat you, see you, and respond to you. Added bonus, watch yourself breath easier in your own world. Start by simply being aware and paying attention to what you say and do. In other words, THINK before you act or react.
- KEEP YOUR AGREEMENTS – If you say you will do it…do it. If you can’t keep the agreement, let people know BEFORE something is supposed to be completed. Things you “borrow” be sure you get it back to the owner timely and in the same shape (or better) as when it was lent to you. You agree to be home by 11pm…be there! Something amazing going on, call at 10:30, be honest and say you will be home by midnight. You get the idea.
- JUST DO IT – Don’t wait for parents/teachers/bosses etc. to remind you about every little detail that is your world. You know how to use a calendar and make a list(s). Use the calendar or notes in your phone, download an app like Wunderlist, or use some other method to track your assignments due dates, work tasks and don’t forget your personal affairs and your appointments. Take care of your possessions and yourself. Yes, picking up after yourself and take care of your personal grooming. Come on, does your parent really need to make sure you are brushing your teeth and cleaning your braces, or pick up your shoes from the front door?
- OWN IT – Making excuses, eye rolling, and complaining just don’t cut it in the real world. People want to give their business to and hire those that are friendly, honest, trustworthy and do what they say! Think about how you feel when someone is giving you excuses for flaking out on you, or just speaking negatively about everything. Listen to your self and be accountable if you make a mistake or something doesn’t go as you intended. Some examples: Running late? Call or shoot a text and let the folks know who are waiting for you that you are running late. But make sure you evaluate if you gave yourself enough time to get out the door to get somewhere on time and adjust your own behavior. It takes time to figure this out. If you are not liking what someone is telling you to do, then be direct and negotiate to what you can agree to. For example, hate a specific chore and that’s why you never seem to get it done when you are supposed to…ask to switch the chore – come up with an alternative that you are willing to do. Don’t forget that “no” is a perfectly acceptable answer. It’s always worth a try. Another example, let’s say you realize when you look at your calendar (because you are keeping one now) that you have a major exam the same day your mom scheduled you a dentist appointment. Say something! Tell her as soon as you find out (shoot a text, stick a post-it on the fridge or whatever so you don’t forget) that you have an exam and need the appointment rescheduled and give a few dates the following week that won’t conflict with work and sports and other activities. Made a mistake? Forgot something? Step up and admit it and see what you can do to correct it. Big excuses just aren’t needed. “I’m sorry, I totally spaced and forgot that sweater you lent me. Do you need it for something specific? How can I fix this and get it to you?” or “Hey Professor, my assignment is sitting on my printer. Is there anything I can do to correct this mistake without loosing points on the assignment or do extra work to make up for the error?”. Again, don’t forget to look at your own behavior (especially if something happens more than once) and try something different to stop those moments from happening.
Everyone functions differently so it will take some time to find what works for you. It’s a path well worth taking. You will feel happier and will likely be more successful embracing these traits as yours.
Be strong, be responsible, be well.