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How to Be Responsible

Wanting to be more responsible is admirable. Being responsible can seem hard at first, but if you keep at it, it will become second nature to you! To be responsible, you should keep your promises and honor commitments that you’ve made. You need to organize your time and money as well as take care of yourself and others, including both physical and emotional needs.


EditTaking Care of Yourself and Others

  1. Clean up after yourself without being asked. When you make a mess, clean it up; don’t just leave it there for someone else to find. You made the mess, so you should be the one to clean it. Think about how another person would feel if they came into the mess or if someone had already cleaned it.[1]
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    • For instance, if you create a huge mess while making a sandwich, take the time to put the ingredients away, wipe up spilled crumbs, and wash any dishes you made or put them in the dishwasher.
  2. Put things in their proper place so you don’t have to do it later. It’s your job to keep up with the things you own, from your shoes to your keys. If you put them in the proper place when you’re done using them, you won’t have trouble finding them later. Not only does it help keep things organized, it shows that you value the things you own.[2]
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    • For instance, always put your keys on the hook or table when you come in the door, so you know where they are.
  3. Do things without being asked. Doing just the things you are asked to do is responsible. But to show that you can care for yourself and others, you need to do things before you’re asked. That shows you are responsible enough to see what needs to be done and take care of it.[3]
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    • For instance, maybe you notice that no one’s taken out the trash today. Don’t just leave it for someone else to do. Take the initiative to do it yourself.
    • Alternatively, maybe no one has made plans for dinner. Get a plan together, and make dinner for everyone.
  4. Place others’ needs before your own. When you have a family, friends, and/or pets, being responsible may mean placing their needs above your own. That doesn’t mean you don’t take care of yourself. But it does mean you may need to take care of yourself later if someone you love has a need right now.[4]
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    • For instance, maybe you really need to eat, but someone in your family gets a cut that needs tending to right now. Obviously, you should help them first before eating.
    • Sometimes, putting others’ needs first starts by determining what are really our “needs” and what are our “wants.” For instance, maybe you want to go out with your friends, but your parents need you to stay home to babysit. Going out with your friends may feel like a need, but it’s more of a want.
  5. Be consistent. Your responsibility won’t mean much if it’s hit or miss. If you want to be responsible, then you have to find a routine that works for you and stick to it. For instance, don’t just study for ten hours in a row and then give up on studying for 3 weeks; instead, spend 1 hour every day looking over the course material.
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    • Staying consistent also means keeping your word and following through with commitments you make to yourself and others.
    • Being reliable shows people can depend on you to do what you say you’re going to do.

EditShowing Maturity in Relationships

  1. Hold yourself accountable for your actions. That means that when you do something wrong, own up to it. You’re going to make mistakes; everyone does. However, where you show you’re responsible is when you are able to say you made a mistake.[5]
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    • Even if you no one “catches” you doing wrong, tell the right person it was your mistake. For instance, if you accidentally break a friend’s possession, don’t try to hide it. Say, “I’m sorry, I accidentally broke your sunglasses. Can I replace them?”
  2. Tell the truth to keep your relationships authentic. White lies, like telling someone you like their new scarf when you don’t, generally aren’t an issue. However, when you let big lies enter relationships, such as lying about what you do with your time, can have bigger consequences. Try to be as honest as you can, as honesty shows you are responsible enough to tell the truth.[6]
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    • Plus, when you lie, you need to keep your lies straight, which can become difficult.
  3. Keep in touch with loved ones and friends. Don’t let your relationships fade away. Organize gatherings or host events to show your responsibility and to show you are actively trying to spend time with them.
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    • Offer to help others when they need you. You never know when you may also need to ask for a favor.
    • Make time to meet in-person. You’ll need to be responsible enough to organize your time well and make plans in advance to see people you know.
    • When you’re with other people, put your phone down. Put the people in front of you before social media.
  4. Find solutions for issues instead of casting blame. Problems come up in any relationship. Instead of blaming the other person, try to find a way to solve them. A responsible person looks for solutions instead of trying to decide whose fault it is.[7]
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    • For instance, maybe you and a family member keep miscommunicating when texting. It’s caused several fights.
    • Instead of blaming the other person, sit down together, and try to figure out how you can do better. Maybe you can agree to be more specific in your texts or to ask for clarification when you feel you don’t have enough information.
    • Similarly, don’t attack someone instead of dealing with the issue. Personal attacks won’t get you anywhere.
  5. Think before you speak to show you care. People who are not responsible with their words will shout out the first thing that comes into their heads, including calling another person names. Instead, take time to think your words through. Don’t let your anger get the better of you.[8]
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    • If you find yourself too angry to control what you’re saying, try counting to 10 in your head as you take deep, calming breaths. You can even tell the other person, “I need a moment to calm down before our conversation continues. I don’t want to say something I don’t mean.”
  6. Learn to think about other people’s thoughts and feelings. Empathy is feeling what other people feel. When you say something or do something, think about how it will make the other person feel. If you’re not sure, consider how it would make you feel. If it would make you feel bad, reconsider what you were thinking about doing or saying.[9]
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    • You are not responsible for what other people feel. However, you are responsible for what you say to them and how you act around them. A responsible person has the empathy to think about what other people are feeling in a given situation.

EditPlanning Your Time

  1. Make a schedule to plan your time. Whether you have a daily planner or use a phone app, a schedule helps you stay on top of your responsibilities. It reminds you what you need to be doing. Plus, it shows you where you’re spending your time.[10]
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    • Write out appointments you have, places you go every day, and the chores you need to get done each day. Try to schedule time for each chore, such as “Dishes 3:15 pm-3:30 pm,” “Homework 3:30 pm-4:30 pm,” and so on.
    • Refer to your schedule throughout the day so you stick to it.
  2. Take care of your tasks before having fun. One aspect of being responsible is not putting off your tasks until after you’ve had fun. Start by doing what you need to get done first, and then you can relax and have fun afterward.[11]
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    • For instance, if you need to do the dishes but you want to go outside, do the dishes first. Then you can be outside without the responsibility hanging over your head.
  3. Check how much time you spend on social media. Social media can drain a lot of your time without you even realizing it. You may think you don’t have enough time to get your chores done, but you likely do if you put down your phone, tablet, or computer.[12]
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    • Try using an app that limits the time you spend on your phone or computer. It can help teach you responsibility with your time.
  4. Save time to give back to your community, too. While taking care of your personal life is very important, so is taking care of your community. You’re a member of your larger community, and you should take part in making it a better place to live. Set aside time each month just for volunteering.[13]
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    • Volunteering doesn’t have to be boring! No matter what you love, from nature to books, you can find a way to engage in that interest while volunteering. For instance, you could work to clean up a local park or help shelve books at your local library.
  5. Keep your long-term commitments. When something is fun and new, it’s easy to be committed to it. However, it becomes a little more difficult when the novelty wears off. Whether it’s being in a club, taking a leadership role in a community organization, or volunteering, you have to be in it for the long-term.[14]
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    • When you commit to doing something, stick with it. That doesn’t mean you have to do it forever. However, if you, say, take on a leadership role for a year, stick with it for that year at least, unless you absolutely can’t for some reason.
  6. Learn to set goals for yourself. Pick a few goals that you want to achieve. They could be long-term goals, like becoming a doctor or becoming a better friend. Alternatively, they could be short-term, like making your bed every day or running a 5K within a month. Whatever they are, write them down, and come up with a plan for how exactly you will tackle them.
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    • Once you set goals, figure out concrete steps you can take each day to reach those goals. For instance, if you want to run a 5K, make a plan for how much you’ll need to walk or run each day to work up to running a 5K in a month.

EditTaking Control of Your Money

  1. Set money goals for yourself. Whether you’re still in high school or you’re an adult, you should have goals for your money. That way, you have something to work towards and a reason to put money away regularly. Plus, you won’t need to constantly ask people around you for help with money.[15]
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    • For instance, maybe you want to save up for a car. Decide how much you want to spend on a car by researching ones in your area. Then, start putting away money every time you get some to help build your car fund.
  2. Find a way to earn cash for yourself. Even if you’re still at home, you can find ways to earn money. Do odd jobs for neighbors, or ask your parents if they have any chores they’ll pay you for.[16]
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    • You can even get a part-time job outside your house. Babysitting or being a lifeguard are often good part-time jobs when you’re younger.
  3. Make a budget. A budget is just a document showing what money you have coming in and where you want it to go. Try a monthly budget, where you document how much cash you receive each month. Then, add amounts for things you need to spend money on, such as food, as well as money you need to save for emergencies and future wants. Subtract these amounts from the money you have coming in each month to determine what you can spend on other fun things.[17]
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    • You can use something as simple as a piece of paper and pen to create a budget, but you can also use a spreadsheet or a budgeting app to help you figure it out.
  4. Avoid being constantly in debt. Don’t put more on your credit card than you can pay off each month, unless you have an emergency. Try not to borrow from friends and family. Instead, have money saved up so you can be ready for any emergency that comes along.[18]
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    • Debt means you are paying extra for the things you bought. Alternatively, it means you owe money to a friend or family member. Neither is a responsible way to spend money, though emergencies do happen.


  • Be responsible in school by doing your homework and studying for tests and quizzes.

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