These past couple of months the notion of taking control of life has definitely been in the forefront of my ideas. Not so much because of my own personal lifestyle, I actually feel like I’m in control and make decisions that get me to where I need to be, but mostly because I’m in a position where I hear people blame everything under the sun for their own problems or their children’s.

To be clear, I work with children and often meet with parents to discuss grades and behavior. What I usually find is that the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree, to use a figure of speech. If a student blames X Y and Z for not doing their homework or behaving a certain way, after speaking to a parent, the parent usually will blame everyone or everything as well.

This had lead me to realize there are two types of people in this world:

Those that take control of their life and own up to personal responsibility, and those that allow life to control them making it easier to place blame somewhere other than themselves.

It’s easier to glide along in life, not ever making many difficult decisions. But this way of living isn’t the happier version. Contrary to being easy, this “life happens upon me” is a more disappointing storyboard.

Yet, never one to believe that people can’t turn things around, I think there’s still hope for those that have difficulty taking responsibility and controlling their destiny. Of course, the character of a person often determines their default actions, and changing one’s character is quite a bit more difficult. So, let’s take a look at qualities that need to be in place before taking life by the reigns:

  • Perseverance or grit – Sticking things out even when they get tough. It’s much easier to just give up at the first sign of resistance, but being able to stick it out and make it work often reaps rewards. Anyone who’s ever paid off debt knows that without this quality, that goal will never be achieved.
  • Personal Responsibility – No one wants to believe that it’s their own damn fault things aren’t so hot in their lives. But once they realize they made the choices that got them there, they know they can also dig themselves out. Until that moment, they’re often stuck in the same downward cycle.
  • Basic understanding of consequence – All too often, people act without thinking about the repercussions or consequence – for good or bad. By examining all the possible outcomes, choices become clearer.
  • Flexibility to change – Though sticking with something is an important trait, every now and again you have to do an “about-face” and change the direction you’re heading for the better.

Each person has a different path that led them to where they are today. Unfortunately, for some, that path was bumpy and difficult and may not have allowed for personal growth. Since there’s no time like the present to change, there are a few actions that can be taken to gain control:

  • Accept responsibility – This is the first step, but also the most difficult. It’s hard to place blame on yourself for the way things have turned out. However, this first step allows you to take control and turn everything around.
  • Institute changes by making a plan – Depending on what one wants to change, drawing up a plan and clearly outlining the possible consequences is important. That might mean going back to school to get a better job, moving to a new city for a better quality of life, or paying off debt – all require a detailed plan and changes in behavior.
  • Get educated – I don’t necessarily mean formal education, but that definitely helps. The more knowledgeable a person is, the better they understand their choices and outcomes.  Most adults I speak to that are similar to their children in behavior, and blame others for their difficulties, are often under-educated.

Though some of these steps may seem too simple for any one person, it’s a good start.

Have you known someone who blames others for their predicament? What solutions would you offer them?


  1. Money Beagle Reply

    There are people that complain about every bit of bad fortune that comes their way, and bemoan every bit of good fortune that goes others way. I find that they blame bad luck for theirs and assign good luck as the reason that others succeed. While I think that luck has something to do with one or two occurrences, the bottom line is that once a pattern develops, luck can no longer be assigned as the cause for what’s happening. If you find yourself in a pattern of ‘bad luck’ then you need to realistically assess what’s happening and look for the bigger problem, as I can guarantee that there is (at least) one. Similarly, instead of bemoaning the good fortunes that seem to go toward others, find out what they’re doing, because they are assuredly doing something right.

    • @Money Beagle – It’s great advice to ask people who appear “lucky” what they’re doing right. It all boils down to personal responsibility, which is sometimes lacking in people.

  2. Paul @ The Frugal Toad Reply

    I’ve always felt that I create my own opportunities. To blame someone else for my own situation is silly.

    • @Paul – I definitely agree. Taking control of your life is about creating options for yourself, taking responsibility, and learning as you go.

  3. Don @ Breath of Optimism Reply

    Great post! I know someone just like this. When we first started to hang out, I would try to help them see things differently to no avail. Eventually, I realized that this was who they were. No matter how much I tried to change them, they would only change if they wanted to.

    It got to a point where I stopped hanging out with them. It was too draining of my energy to put up with and listen to their complaints. I surround myself with positive people and those that are trying to be their best. This keeps my spirits high and motivated to push through any obstacle life throws my way.

    • @Don – Blaming others gets a person no where fast, and those that do it regularly can’t clearly see why their lives are so out of control.

  4. I’m trying to teach all these to my 3 year old and it’s tough. I guess we have 15 more years to keep working on it. Little kid just don’t understand consequences, perseverance, or any of that good stuff. They just want instant gratification. Older folks should know better. 🙂

  5. I think what eats people up is seeing others having things they want yet not wanting to put forth the effort to get those things. It’s easier to artificially create a barrier to success since it’s out of your control than it is to actually put in the work and time to create success for yourself. I try not to surround myself with people who are unwilling to set goals and work towards them.

    • @The Smarter Dollar – Definitely true. I don’t think everyone realizes that most accomplishments take a lot of hard work.

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