Take Charge of Your Choices!

by Jeff Janssen, Janssen Sports Leadership Center

“Stop making excuses and start making things happen.”
J.J. Watt, Arizona Cardinals

Being responsible for yourself is a huge key to success in sport and life. No doubt physical talent is obviously important, but if you can’t take and accept responsibility for yourself, you won’t last long in most programs, no matter how talented you might be.

Being a Responsible Athlete means you are the primary person in charge of your life. It means taking charge of your choices, decisions, actions and inaction and how they ultimately lead to your success or failure. Responsible Athletes willingly and reliably do what needs to be done to reach their goals rather than blaming circumstances or others for their own lack of success.

The first step in becoming a more Responsible Athlete is to take charge of your choices. You have numerous choices, decisions, and actions available to you each and every day, which subtly or significantly impact your future success in some way, shape, or form. From the time you get up every morning to the time you go to bed at night, you are presented with several choices that can either help your chances of reaching your goals or hurt your chances of reaching your goals.

How many choices would you say you get to make each day that impact your success? ________

List three of the most important choices you get to make every day that impact your success as a student-athlete:

1. __________________________________________________________________________

2. __________________________________________________________________________

3. __________________________________________________________________________


Whether you realize it or not, every single day you get to make roughly 100 choices that impact your success - and ultimately your team’s success. Don’t believe it?

Let’s take a look at some of the important choices you get to make every day and do the math. Your 100 or so choices available to you daily as a student-athlete include such seemingly simple yet significant things as:

Practice: Over the course of a 2 hour practice, you likely do anywhere from 6-8 physical drills. During each of these drills you get to choose your attitude, effort level, focus, competitiveness, mental toughness and a variety of other mental factors that have an impact on your and your teams success. Multiply these five factors times the six drills you do throughout the course of a practice and you get 30 choices.

Weight Room: Similarly, in the weight room, you get to choose your attitude, effort, the amount of weight you lift, the number of times you lift it, the quality of the lifts, and whether or not you are going to persist and push through every last rep. Given you are likely doing at least 5 different lifts or exercises in the weight room, you have at least 25 choices.

Nutrition: Between breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, you likely eat at least 3-4 times a day. Each time you eat you get to choose from a variety of foods to either fuel or fatten your body. Each meal you choose your proteins, carbohydrates, fats, portion sizes, drinks, appetizers, main course, desserts, and snacks. Daily eating and hydrating alone account for roughly 25 of your choices.

School: As a STUDENT-athlete, you have a number of classes to attend throughout the day. Each of these classes you get to choose your attendance, attitude, effort, focus, how much you participate, and often where you sit in the classroom for each of your classes. Assuming you have at least 4 classes on a typical day, you are looking at another 24 choices at the minimum.

Looking at just these areas alone, we have already added up 104 choices. This doesn’t include your fitness and physical conditioning, what time you wake up in the morning or go to bed, what your social life is like, or the studying time you choose to put in.

As you can see, every day you have at least 100 choices you get to make that in some large or small way impact your success - and ultimately your team’s success.

“When considering the consequences of not doing the little things,
you realize there are no little things.”

Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics Coach

Recognize and Own Your 100 Daily Choices

Responsible Athletes recognize and own the enormous power of their 100 daily choices, decisions, and actions. Further, they recognize how these choices add up and compound over time…

Your 100 or so choices each day eventually become:
700 choices in a week,
  2,800 choices in a month,
   36,400 choices in a year,
    728,000 choices in a playing career,
     2,912,000 choices in a lifetime.

“I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

Do you see how IMPORTANT these seemingly small CHOICES become over time?

Do you see how powerful your daily choices can be and how much they influence your success, your future, and your life???

Consider this…

When you are 15 years old, you have already made over 500,000 choices that have largely determined where you are in life.

When you are 20 years old, you have already made over 700,000 choices that have largely determined where you are in life.

If you live to be 80 years old you will get to make almost 3,000,000 choices that will largely determine your life. So you definitely have the power to create the kind of life you want with these millions of choices available to you.

Negative Choices Add Up Too

While it is easy to see how your positive choices help advance you forward, you also must recognize how your negative choices hold you back. Keep in mind:

Cutting corners is a choice…
Apathy is a choice…
Laziness is a choice…
Blaming others is a choice…
Inaction is a choice…

“It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but also for what we do not do.”
Moliere, French Playwright

Unfortunately, many athletes aren’t very conscious of their choices - until it is too late.

Until they get cut from the team…

Until they get beat out for a starting spot…

Until their opponents dominate them in competition…

Until their nemesis gets selected for the all-conference team over them…

Until their rival team wins the conference championship instead of them…

Then they wish they could go back and change many of the apathetic or Hurtful Choices, decisions, and actions they made over time into helpful ones. But many times it is too late.

Don’t let this painful regret happen to you and your team!


Take Charge of Your Choices! 

Take Charge of Your Decisions! 

Take Charge of Your Actions!

Take Charge of Your Future! 

Take Charge of Your Life!


Don’t look back on your season with regret because you didn’t take charge of your choices!

Don’t look back on your athletic career with regret because you didn’t understand or value the enormous power of your daily choices, decisions, and actions!

Accept personal responsibility to make positive choices, arrive at intelligent decisions, and take powerful actions that maximize your chances of reaching your goals and dreams.

Doing so is solely up to you – not anyone else! Not your coaches. Not your teammates. Not your parents.

Our lives are determined by the choices we make. Take Charge of Your Choices!

“Life is a sum of all our choices.”
Albert Camus

Learn How to Take Charge of Your Choices!

To learn more about how to Take Charge of Your Choices, check out our new Athlete's Responsibility Manual!


    Sign up for info to help your team!