Several years ago, I was starting a new job and shadowing our then-CEO. I was sitting with her as we went through some mundane tasks. She needed a paper clip and went to open her desk drawer. Something was catching and the drawer would not open. So, she tugged harder. Then harder again. Then the whole thing came flying open and stuff went everywhere.
She uttered a statement that I found completely profound. “I did it to myself.” She jammed too much stuff into the drawer, and so, she really had done it to herself. It was very funny at the time, and I am sure it was a way to release some frustration without throwing a fit.
Those words have stuck with me. It is so true – so many things that happen to me, I did to myself – whether intentional or not. Some series of actions set the end result into action. If I did not take time to train my dog, then it really is my fault when the dog jumps on people who come over. If the entire contents of the closet pour out onto me when I open the door, well, that is the result of my not taking the time to organize the closet. When my calendar runneth over, that is the result of me signing up to do too much.
I did it to myself.
In many ways, I find the statement very comforting and hopeful. If I did it to myself, then it is in my power to fix it. The world is not against me and I am not doomed because my closet blew up on me. I just need to clean it up and reorganize it. I can train my dog, reduce my commitments and clean out my desk drawer. I don’t have to be victim to what is going on around me – I can change it – for better or for worse.
So, the next time you feel frustrated about your finances, your organization (or lack thereof) or your schedule – consider the possibility that you did it to yourself.
I promise if you do, then you will be on your way to figuring out how to fix it.