An absolutely essential precursor to taking control of your life is the realization that you are responsible for everything that happens to you. You have the ability, and therefore the requirement, to choose the nature of the events in your life. To deny this responsibility is to deny -- and damage -- your ability to influence your circumstances.
"Responsible" is defined in the Wiktionary as "answerable for an act performed or for its consequences," "capable of responding to any reasonable claim," or "capable of rational conduct." At the minimum, you are fully responsible for the consequences of everything you encounter, as you are "capable of rational conduct." In your own life, many fortunate and unfortunate circumstances will be thrown at you, and for now, let us ignore whether you or chance (or God, or fate, or whatever you believe could determine such things) is the reason that each event happens to you. No matter what the reason each event has come into your life, you are "capable of responding" and you have the ability to react how you see fit. To clarify, you are not responsible for what happens to you in the sense that you are to blame for what has happened, but you are responsible in the sense that you must choose what will become of it in your own life.
A very liberating realization that few people demonstrate in their life is as follows: you are capable of reacting negatively to a positive event (just think of the last time you misunderstood a friend or significant other and grew angry when he/she was actually saying something well-intentioned), and you are just as capable of reacting positively to a negative event. It is entirely up to you to choose how to react each time. You must try to become aware of this ability. You fully possess the ability to choose the effect of each moment in your life, whether or not you are currently aware of this ability. Stop for a moment, ponder the truth of this realization, and start becoming aware of your gift. If you don't believe me when I say that you already possess this power, I encourage you to think back over the times when you have reacted in ways that seemed totally contradictory to the nature of what has happening to you. If you still don't believe me, tell me about it, and I will take it up with God on your behalf.
Now that you are beginning to recognize your ability to choose how events affect your life, let's look at a few reasons why most of us don't exercise our ability properly: habit, doubt, and fear.
Over the course of our lives, we regularly fall into patterns of habit. While this is usually for a good intention, and habits can be very useful, they can frequently be damaging due to the new lack of awareness of our actions and their results. Once an activity becomes habitual, we rarely stay conscious of the consequences of that activity like we did when he had to focus our mental energy on accomplishing it. Consider taking the time to evaluate each action you undertake in the next 24 hours and see if you consciously chose to perform it, or if you had a habitual reaction producing a reflex response. Become aware of your own actions and reactions.
Most of us have learned from society and events what can and cannot be done. Some of these lessons have been wise, such as learning that a large, fast object is a bad thing to walk in front of (or any other natural law). Unfortunately, most of us also learn very crippling beliefs from society, starting with our parents. Very few parents understand how to help their children unlock potential, since few parents have unlocked their own potential. There is absolutely no reason why you cannot be richer than Bill Gates or more productive than Thomas Edison. Become aware of possibilities.
We see failure everywhere we turn. We all fail at different times in our lives. We all encounter obstacles that seem overwhelming, but we make many erroneous assumptions about the nature of our enemy. In the words of Daniel Boorstin, "The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance - it is the illusion of knowledge." We believe that we have enough knowledge to know how truly insurmountable the task before us is by nature, but we have made it insurmountable by our injected fear. Once again, fear can be healthy in the right context, but we have been trained to create fear in all the wrong places. Become aware of your own power.
You are responsible for what you make of your life. If you lose your job, do you swear for hours, drink a 12-pack, yell at your spouse, and curse God? Or do you take the opportunity to evaluate all your options, look for something even better, and start the next stage of your life? This choice is entirely your responsibility. Nobody can make this choice for you, and if you sit around waiting for something else to change for you, I assure you, will spend the rest of your life waiting for your big break. Stand up and take responsibility for your choices, and realize how are taking charge of your own life!