A lot of folks ask me how I get so many things done. In reality, I see it more as that there are a lot of things I don’t get a chance to accomplish. My only opportunity to do more of what I want to do is to become more efficient about the things I have to do. Also, I realize that I live a life that only has to deal with “first world problems.” Given that, I should have the ability to have great satisfaction in my life. I’m intentionally staying away from the word happiness because it’s overused. Many of my posts over the last couple of years deal with the following question, “What am I doing to get a lot of things done and to have greater satisfaction in my life?” However, in looking back, I realize that I’m all over the place with respect to subjects, successes/failures, etc. As a result, I’m going to do a series of foundational posts to explain my life of thinking and what I do.
As a kid I was very good about blaming other people for my problems and failures. If I couldn’t find someone else to blame, I found something ELSE to blame. As an adult most of this seems foolish now. Even in the cases where I think I had justification, I now realize that there were many of those particular cases where I could have still done something to make the situation better. However, it was easier to point the finger and hand over the blame.
The problem with passing the blame is that you also pass the power and responsibility to correct the situation. That sounds great, right? What if the other person decides he or she doesn’t want to do anything? Then it’s not great. As a matter of fact, it’s downright miserable. You have fixed in your mind that the other person must solve the situation only they won’t. That means you’re stuck. You’re out of options. Is that where you want to be? If so, you’ll never be satisfied. Also, you’ll leave a string of things undone. Of course, none of it will be your fault because you can identify whose fault it is. That still won’t get you out of the dead-end.
Tired of the dead-ends? So was I. The most foundational thing I had to do was to “take ownership” of my life. In other words, I had to stop blaming other people. Blaming other people often didn’t move me forward. It either kept me where I was or pushed me backwards, which can happen when the other person doesn’t like wearing the blame and blames you right back. What does it mean to take ownership of your life? It’s the adoption of a few common sense principles:
- In almost every situation, blaming someone or something else won’t change the situation.
- In almost every situation, I have options to change that situation.
- In almost every situation, not doing anything at all won’t improve the situation.
- In almost every situation, I make the decision on whether or not to execute on a particular option.
The “almost every” is important because there are things that happen to us throughout the day that are beyond our control. Some of these things impact our lives and create situations where we have few, if any options. However, those situations are extremely rare. Since we know that those situations are rare, let’s look at the large majority of the situations we’ll face in life. As I’ve already discussed, blaming someone else usually doesn’t work. Also, by not acting, most of the time the situation won’t improve. If this is the way you handle life, you’re going to be thrown around.
On the other hand, if we realize we have options, we can consider and act on one or more of them. I understand that sometimes a situation has no good answer. Then there are other times where what is unpleasant now is better for the future. For instance, I can remember every time my parents made me eat cauliflower. I hated cauliflower with a passion like few other things. However, whenever my parents “forced” me to eat it, it was with the reminder that I was doing so to be stronger and healthier in the future. Not every set of options is going to include a pleasant one. However, the fact that you have options means you can typically choose a better path than if left to do nothing. That’s taking ownership of your life: realizing that you have options, considering them, and then choosing to execute on one or more of them. It’s foundational for more satisfaction with life and in order to get more things done.