At a recent seminar, one of the speakers made a casual comment linking Generation Y to the culture of irresponsibility. I have never been one to put much credence in generational generalizations or a one-size-fits-all approach.
As I look back on my early twenties, I wouldn’t describe myself as responsible. I was serious about my job and worked hard, but was more about having fun and just letting things happen than being responsible. I knew what I was supposed to do; live below my means, stop using my resources (money, time and energy) trying to impress people, and to end relationships that were bad for me or weren't working, but I didn't take the necessary steps to do so.
I remember the day I had a revelation similar to the one Trent had here on September 23, 2005. I was 28; had finally broken up with my boyfriend of seven years, a bad relationship I had allowed to continue way too long, was working full time and taking accounting courses at night. On this particular day, I was late for class and frantically searching for a parking place. Frustrated and angry I began blaming my parents and ex-boyfriend for the sorry state of my life. Suddenly, I realized none of them were magically going to appear and help me find a parking space. Nor, were they going to pay off my credit card debt, study for my exams or help me achieve any of my other goals. It was up to me. I realized at that moment I needed to take care of myself and accept responsibility for my own actions, decisions and goals. From that day forward, I began making the sacrifices necessary to achieve my goals. I used vacation time to study for exams. I stopped frivolous shopping and dining out; finally living below my means. Eventually, I finished my accounting courses and passed the CPA exam. I got control of my finances, paid off my car loan and credit card debt. I even put some money aside in case of an emergency.
Some additional great advice on becoming accountable comes from Danielle LaPorte's blog White Hot Truth. In her post, for rage babes flakes and tyrants get over it she writes:
Decide to just get over it. Let it be that simple. For most of us who had normally dysfunctional upbringings (I’m not talking about suffering exceptional atrocities or repetitive abuses,) our past is no excuse to continue being a flake, a tyrant, obnoxiously needy, or a rage-babe. Look, we’re all terrific for going to therapy, for having past life insights, and reading Wayne Dyer. Yeah for the New Age. Really. But knowing why you’re so screwed up is only half the journey. Choose to let it be done.
And from her comments:
I don't remember who said it but it's true that we need to spend only 10% of our time, thoughts, and energy talking about the problem and the other 90% working on a solution, a strategy, a plan.
Another commenter writes:
A friend of mine was whining to our small meet-for-coffee gathering about her life being screwed up because her parents, yada, yada, yada. One of the guys looked at her and said: "After 35, everybody needs a new excuse." It stopped her cold.
"After 35, everybody needs a new excuse." ~ I love that. I also think there should be an expiration date on blaming your ex-husband, boyfriend or even your current husband for your life’s circumstances. I was recently at a party where a woman was blaming her ex-husband for her unhappy life. She listed such undesirable factors as he liked dogs while she liked cats. She spoke with such venom and anger I had to ask how long it had been since she divorced. Her reply: Ten years ago.
I hate to see loved ones struggle and make the same mistakes I did, but sometimes failure is necessary before growth, and advice falls on deaf ears. Deciding to take responsibility for your life doesn’t seem to occur at any one particular age, but is a necessary step towards creating the life you want.
For more information on the subject of responsibility, read Henrik Edberg's post 7-timeless-thoughts-on-taking-responsibility-for-your-life.