I have this phrase in my head that seems to be on constant repeat. I can’t tell you exactly where it’s from or if perhaps I put these words together myself. But I can tell you that it is certainly a culmination of podcasts, books, and self-improvement talks I’ve gleaned from over the years.
Nothing important happens by accident.
In other words, I have to make an effort to reach a goal or to experience a dream-come-true scenario. The things that I identify as valuable or important to me are things that will require discipline and consistency in my routine.
It is highly unlikely that I will just wake up one day as the president of the United States. Outside of a miracle, I will never suddenly have $10 million in the bank that is mine to keep and not just an accounting error. NASA will never call my cellphone when facing a catastrophic crisis.
If any of those things come true, it will only be because I did something.
To be the president, I probably need to take a more involved approach to our political and economic happenings. It would also help to volunteer at a local level and maybe even champion change in our regulating or governing system. Of course, I’d need to spend time shaking hands and kissing babies, too.
If I want $10 million at my disposal, I should either play the lottery or follow a routine savings and investment plan that will help me grow my nest egg.
And NASA … will never call me in a crisis. They may someday hire me to give a talk or share my story, but I am confident they will never “need” my help.
The phrase “nothing important happens by accident” is significant for me because it serves as a constant reminder to do something today. Something that will allow me to experience what I want in the days or years to come.
Often I feel buried by situations that feel too big to change. However, when I remember that nothing important happens by accident, I’m reminded of the compound effect (a financial principle, but also a dynamic book by Darren Hardy). A few pennies saved today can turn into 10 pennies tomorrow and 100 pennies in a month. Similarly, to climb Mt. Everest, one needs to put one foot in front of the other — for three months!
You can’t just sit and hope $10 million comes your way, and you certainly can’t will your way to the top of Mt. Everest. Twelve years ago, I made a significant oversight in my taxes and found myself in financial trouble with the IRS. In three years, my tax debt had climbed rapidly and I was slapped with a total bill of nearly $30,000. That was a significant amount for me.
I found myself in one of those overwhelming and impossible situations. I began paying this debt little by little with no end in sight. There were days and months I was afraid this debt would haunt me until the end of my life.
Remembering that nothing important happens by accident helped me believe in a future that did not include the IRS — at least, not a debt to them! I knew this would be a hard target to hit, but I also knew there was only one way to get things done and that’s to do the things.
For more than 10 years, I have been making monthly payments on that debt, in addition to my current tax liabilities. Just last week, I made my final payment and am finally realizing my dream of being debt-free to the IRS.
I rarely, if ever, talk about my financial situations. But when I made that final payment I didn’t just feel relief. I experienced an overwhelming feeling of hope, too.
For me, it was a reminder that little disciplines, habits, and actions I take every day can lead to the outcome I want. Whether it takes 10 days or 10 years, I have to keep getting stuff done.
No matter how overwhelming life gets, take responsibility and get after the things you can do to chip away at the obstacle.
Nothing important happens by accident.
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