Stop Leaving Things to Chance (365 Days of Spirited Living – DAY 107)
(30 Things To Stop Spending Time On If You Want to Be Successful #16)
“The weaker mind reacts.”
— Toba Beta
What you react to will control your life. It is very tempting to believe that everything will work out on its own. Sometimes, in fact, very few times, does this actually happen. The idea that chance is a powerful creature who carries any kind of weight in the world is not based in reality. The truth is that you have to make things happen. If you want something to work, you have to do what is necessary to make it work.
“Stop thinking so much, and just let things happen. It will all work out” is a common sentiment of the day. Many people believe that having faith is an excuse to not do any work. It is not. Many things in this world require faith, but not faith by itself. Faith that is paired with work will create the success you desire. Have faith that things will work out, but also work so things will turn out the way you want them to.
Belief in God and in one’s self is a prerequisite for reaching goals. If you don’t first believe, you are already failing. If you want to get up early in the morning, you can believe you will all you want to. But if you don’t set up measures to take such an action (alarm clocks and wake-up calls come to mind as an example) you will not get up early in the morning. You can think, pray, and believe all you want about making good grades, getting a job promotion, moving to another state, getting in shape, developing better relationships, or anything else. Nothing will happen unless you put in the effort.
Putting in the effort involves being proactive and responsible. Stephen Covey believes that proactivity is one of the most important traits of successful and effective people. This is why he lists proactivity as the very first habit in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. To be proactive, you must take charge of your life and be responsible for the decisions that you make. When you are responsible, you leave nothing to chance; everything is an intentional choice.
Unsuccessful people lack the habit of proactivity. They tend to be reactive and often develop a victim mentality. Their inability to change their perspectives, attitudes, and responses to situations leaves them feeling helpless. Helplessness leads to fear, fear leads to irresponsibility, and irresponsibility will lead to failure. Situations and people cannot affect us unless we allow it. How we react determines the way things and people affect us.
Nothing is going to magically happen. If miracles happened everyday, we as finite, and often selfish and ungrateful human beings would eventually take it for granted. If we came to expect a miracle every time we encounter a difficult situation, we would never learn what it means to endure, to overcome, or to persevere. Very few things just work themselves out. Like most people, we have to be hit upside the head before we turn our behavior around. You have to be proactive and take responsibility for your life and the direction of your present and future. All the magic there is in making things happen is work.
Covey believes that learning to be proactive results in an accomplished and principled life. Instead of focusing on the ifs, coulds, shoulds, and maybes of life, proactive people focus their attention on what they can do to reach their goals. This thinking plays out in every area of life. Instead of thinking, “If I had a better spouse,” proactive people think, “What can I do to be a better person?” Instead of thinking, “If this happens, then I will,” proactive people think, “I will do this and it will create this result.” No magic; just choice.
Leaving things to chance robs us of the privilege it is to set goals, work towards achieving them, create opportunities, and engineer our lives in the best way possible. Like a ship in an unruly sea, you can let the chaos run the ship, or you can take control of the helm and steer your way out of the storm. If you make conscious effort to visualize who you are and where you want to be, you empower yourself to take action to get there. Wishing is for fairy tales; working is for real people who want to see real results.
“Remember, action today can prevent a crisis tomorrow.”
— Steve Shallenberger