“Who do you want to be when you grow up?” That was never the question. Instead, it was, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Did we have it wrong all along?

  • What you are assumes a label
  • Who you are demands an identity
  • What you are is how they describe you when you’re there
  • Who you are is how they describe you when you’re not
  • What you become takes into account your ability
  • Who you become demands your accountability

Accountability is intimidating, though. It means that someone is keeping score. It means that you are on the hook for something. It means that you have to stand up for a belief. It means that you have to care.

But if you don’t care, no one will.

We have enough stimulation and distractions around us to keep us busy until the next Ice Age. If it’s not the television, it’s the Internet. If it’s not the Internet, it’s our phones. If it’s not our phones, it’s something else. It’s very easy to watch our lives zip by as we focus on what we’re going to be, without ever stopping to ponder who it is that we want to be before it’s too late.

If there is any meaning to life while we are here, it is to have a purpose: your kids, your job, your hobby, a team, a book, a political platform, a cause, a belief, a movement, a game, a restaurant, a country, a smile. Purpose will be your navigator during those times in life when the fog seems to outweigh the clarity. No one is ever going to care about your life and the way you choose to live it more than you will. That is a beautiful thing—never forget how beautiful.

So when you say “I don’t care,” I don’t believe you. You do care. Evolution and the luck of life sneaked its way through death, diseases and accidents to forge an unmistakable, unbreakable line of reproduction long enough to get to you. If that burden is too heavy, tough luck. Care.

Couldn’t care more. It’s your duty.

To be or not to be? That has already been answered. You are, so you are worth it.

Don’t be a marionette in someone else’s puppet show. If you feel like you don’t have much of a say in your life (and you are not a child or in prison), then you need to figure out what those influences are that are holding you down. It is time you take back the reins of your horse and be accountable for who it is you want to be.

But make no mistake about it, you have to be the one who jumps in, who cuts the cord, who who takes the first step, who takes the stand. You have to use the tools—it is not enough to simply possess them. I assure you that the timing will never be totally right and that the Duke of Doubt will try to hold you back, but you, and no one else, is the author of the script of who you are going to become.

Because if not you, then who?

* This was an excerpt from The Accountability Effect: The Book Your Excuses Don’t Want You To Read which can be downloaded for free by singing up for the newsletter.

Bassam Tarazi is the creator of a motivational framework, Colipera, which utilizes the notion: collective inspiration + personal accountability; Together, be better. Bassam is also the author of The Accountability Effect, a free e-book that has been downloaded over 5,000 times. Bassam conducts goal setting classes, corporate & group Colipera sessions and 1-on-1 coaching for those with 9-to-5’s through his “Maximize Your 5-to-9” program. Bassam can also be followed on Twitter.