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How to Get More of What You Want in Life

By April 14, 20163 Comments

I recently had the opportunity to attend a week-long conference with Jack Canfield, the 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 that we blame for negative circumstances in our life.

Below are some common examples.

We Blame:



I can’t save more money because I pay so much in taxes



I didn’t grow up in a wealthy family, so I didn’t have the opportunities other people had
BossMy boss doesn’t coach or develop me, so I’m stuck in my job
Husband/Wife/PartnerMy husband doesn’t like healthy food, so I can’t eat healthier
KidsMy kids take up so much of my energy, that I don’t have time to see my friends
WeatherI couldn’t work out this morning, it was too cold outside
EmployeesI can’t delegate because my employees can’t handle more work
Lack of timeI don’t have time to take a class/travel/call my mother
Lack of moneyI 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 Dr. 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 that I haven’t always taken 100% 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% 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 below.

Laurie Maddalena

Laurie Maddalena is CEO of Envision Excellence, a leadership consulting firm that provides leadership development programs for managers and executives, keynote speeches, teambuilding, and leadership assessments. Learn more about Laurie:


  • Marissa says:

    Laurie, I love these insights! I personally am constantly looking for these “blind spots” but sometimes doing so can feel like I am always trying to “fix” myself. I certainly want to get to the next level, but also want to focus on all the good stuff that is everywhere already. Of course, this gratitude focus helps me to make the changes in the areas that are not so great.
    Really appreciate this post! thank you!

    • Thanks for your comment, Marissa! I can relate to sometimes feeling like I am trying to fix myself, and that can sometimes feel negative. I try for constant improvement to just become a better version of myself every day. Your gratitude focus is a great way to approach it!

  • Patricia ilijic says:

    Great article and thank you for coming to our office and shared with our management team the ERO. It is up to ones self and I have always told my children that an event can’t be changed but the outcome can be awesome.

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