Take Responsibility for Your Life

Laurie Maddalena, MBA, CPCC, PHR Photo
Executive Coach/Consultant
Envision Excellence

4 minutes

I recently had the opportunity to attend a week-long conference with Jack Canfield, co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. The event was focused on helping people break through to higher levels of success.

The first principle of success Jack introduced was "Take 100% Responsibility for Your Life." Most of us have been conditioned to blame something or someone outside of ourselves for the parts of our life we don't like. But the truth is, there is only one person who is responsible for the quality of life you live: you.

When Jack first introduced this success principle, my immediate thought was that I didn't have room for improvement. I take responsibility for my life. I don't blame others for my outcomes. But as we got deeper into the topic, I realized there are places where excuses linger and I don't take full responsibility.

Most of us have people or institutions we blame for our lives’ negative circumstances. Below are some common examples.

We Blame: Example:
Government I can't save more money because I pay so much in taxes.
Parents I didn't grow up in a wealthy family, so I didn't have the opportunities other people had.
Boss My boss doesn't coach or develop me, so I'm stuck in my job.
Husband/Wife/Partner  My husband doesn't like healthy food, so I can't eat healthier.
Kids My kids take up so much of my energy, that I don't have time to see my friends.
Weather I couldn't work out this morning; it was too cold outside.
Employees I can't delegate because my employees can't handle more work.
Lack of time I don't have time to take a class/travel/call my mother.

Lack of time


I don't have enough money to go back to school.


The problem with blaming is that we give up our power to change our outcomes. We give up our choice. But it's not the external circumstances that hold us back--it's our own limited thinking.

Ultimately, the only thing we can control is our response to events. We can't change the event itself. Psychotherapist Robert Resnick created a formula to illustrate this:

E +R = O

(Event + Response = Outcome)

Every outcome in life is a result of how you responded to an event. You can't change the family you grew up in, but you can change your response to the situation and ultimately change your outcome. A past event is in the past--it's not changeable. We can only impact future outcomes by changing our response to events that show up in our life.

After Jack introduced the typical excuses people make in their lives, I realized I haven't always taken 100 percent responsibility for my life. For example, I was recently complaining to a colleague that as my business grows, there isn't enough time to focus on marketing my business online and also work with my current clients. I went on to complain that I also don't love the marketing side of business, but I'm too busy to search for someone who could help me with it. Subconsciously I was making excuses (lack of time to learn how to market online) for not taking charge of the outcome (gaining more visibility online).

Since returning from the workshop, I have decided to take 100 percent responsibility for this aspect of my business. I am reading a book on effective marketing and watching videos to learn how to implement some strategies. Even though it's uncomfortable to be stretching myself to learn this aspect of business, I feel empowered that I am taking charge of my results. I've decided if it's really important, I will find the time to do it, and not complain.

How about you: Is there an aspect of your life that you need to take more responsibility for? I'd love for you to share your thoughts in the comments section.

If you'd like more information on Jack's success principles, I highly recommend his book, The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. It's a must-read for anyone who wants to lead a successful life.

Laurie Maddalena, MBA, CPCC, PHR, is a certified executive coach, leadership consultant and founder of Envision Excellence, LLC in the Washington, D.C., area. Her mission is to create exceptional cultures by teaching leaders how to be exceptional. Maddalena facilitates management and executive training programs and team-building sessions and speaks at leadership events. Prior to starting her business, she was an HR executive at a $450 million credit union. Contact her at 240.605.7940 or

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