5 Ways to Be More Self-Reliant

They say that no man is an island, but it’s just as true that no man should rely on others in his life for things that he could handle on his own!

No matter what field you’re in, developing self-reliance is an important part of being taken seriously and being deemed able to handle the additional responsibilities that come along with promotions and career advancement.  And from a personal standpoint, nobody wants to be the team member who’s seen as being unable to carry his own weight!

If you feel like your self-reliance skills could use a little brushing up, give any of the following ideas a try:

Idea #1 – Take responsibility for yourself

Think about the most self-reliant people you know.  Chances are one of the things that makes them appear so self-reliant to your mind is that they take responsibility for their actions instead of blaming others for their mistakes or misfortunes.

A self-reliant person says, “I’m sorry, I made a mistake and I’ll fix it” – not, “I swear, it wasn’t my fault!”  It’s incredibly easy to take responsibility for yourself when things are going well, but learning to develop self-reliance in the face of challenging situations is much more of a challenge.

To get in the habit of taking responsibility for yourself, pay special attention to your thought and feelings whenever your competence is being challenged.  You’ll probably feel the desire to shift the blame others, but force yourself to stop this behavior.  Instead, get in the habit of accepting blame (when it’s due) and refocusing your energies towards making things right in order to appear more self-reliant.

Idea #2 – Grow your savings account

In many ways, being self-reliant is a mind-set.  When you decide to be responsible for your thoughts and actions, you automatically become more self-reliant than someone who seeks to blame others for his problems.

However, there’s one concrete, measurable way to increase your self-reliance – and that’s by bumping up the size of your rainy day savings account.  Having an extra cushion in the bank allows you to make decisions and absorb unexpected expenses without needing to rely on others to pick up your slack.

Again, developing self-reliance in this way isn’t exactly easy.  If you want to grow your savings, you’re going to have to make some hard decisions about cutting expenses in other parts of your life.  Ultimately, though, being able to rely on yourself to cover surprise costs will more than make up for the challenge associated with setting more money aside.

Idea #3 – Have a plan for everything

A big part of self-reliance is feeling confident in any situation – and in general, you’ll feel more confident in these encounters when you have a plan ready and waiting in your back pocket.

One place to start is with emergency scenarios.  Do you have a plan in place for what you’ll do if you’re confronted with a natural disaster or other emergency at home or at work?  You don’t need to go as far as mapping out routes or buying several months of MREs, but challenge yourself to think through what you’d do if your daily routine was unexpectedly disrupted.

Over time, you’ll find that this attitude of constant planning carries over to other aspects of your life.  As an example, you may find that you’re more comfortable brainstorming “worst case scenarios” for projects at work, leading others to view your professional self as being more prepared and more self-reliant.

Idea #4 – Stay informed

Education is a key part of self-reliance.  The more you know, the better you’ll be able to take care of yourself and confront unexpected challenges.

Within the workplace, staying informed on company politics and changes might give you the heads up on upcoming changes needed to put contingency plans in place.  If, for example, you hear that a major contract has fallen through or that your project may be terminated, staying abreast of internal news may give you the time needed to put an escape plan in place.

Without the pursuit of this necessary information, you won’t be able to act in a self-reliant way in order to protect yourself and your livelihood.

Idea #5 – Learn new skills

By most definitions of the word, true self-reliance includes things like foraging for your own food and sewing your own clothing out of handmade fabrics.  And while you can definitely take self-reliance to this “Doomsday Prepper” level, start your journey to self-reliance by focusing on skills that are more relevant to your daily life.

For example, are there any tasks at work that you rely on others to do that you could learn to handle yourself?  If you rely on others to send you data sets for analysis, is there a way you could pull this information on your own?  Or if your department relies on another for certain materials, is there a way you can help to expedite the process?

As a rule, the more skills you have, the better you’ll be able to take care of yourself in whatever situation may arise.  And, really, it doesn’t get much more self-reliant than that!

3 thoughts on “5 Ways to Be More Self-Reliant

  1. Auth

    This is a really good arclite really to the point. I think I can still call myself a new librarian after a year and a half. I took a position as an electronic resources librarian and have largely taught myself regarding link resolvers and knowledge base management. I still have a long way to go. But I try, sometimes fail, and try again. It is really frustrating though when people won’t take the time to play with some of this stuff we should be using wikis, blogs, IM, etc.


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