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Are You as Responsible as You Want to Be?

A responsible life is defined not by the pursuit of happiness.

Nithinan Tatah, TH, Noun Project, Public Domain
Source: Nithinan Tatah, TH, Noun Project, Public Domain

It’s tempting to be irresponsible. As Freud would term it, to let your id reign. For example, if you work as little as you can get away with, there’s more time for play, for example, playing or watching sports or video games. And irresponsible play can be more fun: risky sex, mind-altering drugs, treating the highway like a speedway. Indeed, I’ve noticed an increase in the number of cars darting in and out of lanes at a zillion miles an hour.

Yet I risk being a spoil-sport, like the dour, finger-wagging father or cleric often portrayed in the media: from The Scarlet Letter’s Reverend Dimmesdale to the eponymous father in The Great Santini to Game of Thrones' Tywin Lannister.

A responsible life is defined not by the pursuit of happiness—one could be happy being stoned all the time. The responsible life may not even entail work-play balance but rather, the pursuit of contribution.

To explain, picture two parallel worlds: On Earth One, the average person works productively for 40 hours a week and spends hours 40 to 50 on recreation such as the aforementioned. On Earth Two, most people believe that being productive for hours 40 to 50 is the responsible way to live. Why? Because even though working those hours is less fun, the benefits to world happiness justify it. For example, people needing psychotherapy wouldn't have to wait so long to see a good therapist. More housing would be built so it wouldn’t be as expensive. More customer service reps would be available so you wouldn’t wait long on hold. Techies would more quickly develop life-enhancing products: from a better smartphone to better mass transit. You wouldn’t have to wait so long to see a doctor or for the development of a life-saving drug.

Questions to consider

Have you been pressured into being more of a funster and less responsible than you want to be? If so, perhaps this post will encourage you to be that person if only to engage in one or more of these:

  • Do you want to respond more promptly to your email? Many of my clients are desperate to get a job, they worked hard to submit an excellent application and then waited weeks before getting even a rejection. Often, they don't even get that. They are left hanging indefinitely.
  • Do you want to be more diligent at work? Even if you’re only working part-time, you probably don't want to be like a few of my clients who admit that they do the least they can get away with without getting fired. A UK survey of 1,989 full-time office workers found that they actually work an average of only 2 hours and 23 minutes a day.
  • Especially in light of the dangerous Delta strain of COVID, are you wearing a mask per new recommendations? Do you avoid large, crowded, indoor parties, especially when you don't know if the attendees have been fully vaccinated?
  • Do you want to do a better job of keeping your promises? Too often, we're forced to consider, “I’ll get that done today,” as no more than a maybe.

Are you as responsible as you’d like? If not, what’s one way you’d like to improve? Do you want to be more responsible regarding your work-life? In a relationship? The promises you make? Do you want to push aside procrastination so you’ll complete tasks even if unpleasant because that’s the responsible thing to do?

I read an expanded version of this on YouTube.