What’s in Your Hands, and What Is Up to Luck?

There are a lot of things in life we can’t control: Where we’re born, the family we’re born into, and the opportunities we’re given, just to name a few. Some might say that external circumstances like these put us on a life path that we don’t have a lot of control over.

These are the people who believe in luck. You’re either born lucky or you’re not, they say, and you tend to stay on the track you’re born on. There are exceptions, of course. A poor person may be lucky enough to win the lottery, or a rich person may suffer some terribly unlucky accident. But in general, people stay on a course that’s predetermined.

They’re not entirely wrong. A lot of people just accept what life gives them. But I call that a cop-out.

If there’s one thing that’s more powerful than luck, it’s opportunism: Making the most of opportunities as they’re presented to you. When we open our eyes to potential opportunities and allow ourselves to recognize them for what they are, even the “unluckiest” people can change their destiny.

Luck may hand you the key moments that make up your timeline, but you control how you interpret those moments and how you react to them. You control whether you see an opportunity for what it is, or ignore it because of some preconceived attitudes you have about luck.

You could say I’m lucky for having life experiences that have reinforced how positive it is to stay sober and work hard. That’s the kind of luck I’m comfortable accepting because it’s directly linked to how I’ve interpreted my life experiences.

Here are some tips for being positively opportunistic, both in your everyday life and in your career:

  • Believe in free will. This is a simple but important first step in recognizing opportunities when they come to you. Recognize the power and responsibility of being able to make choices that will impact the direction of your life.
  • Have confidence. It can be scary to take the leap and claim an opportunity that’s outside of your comfort zone, but the more you do it, the more your confidence will grow.
  • Decide what you really want in life. Sometimes it’s easier to see opportunities when you’re looking for them. For instance, if you’ve relegated yourself to staying in an unsatisfying career, you’re less likely to see opportunities for change.
  • Open yourself to others. A generous spirit and helping others is a powerful way to change how you see the world.