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How to Make Your Own Luck

As it's Friday the thirteenth, it seems the ideal time to fight against the bad luck and generate some good.

Lots of dice


I tend to think of myself as a lucky person although the evidence goes against this.

In fact, when I actually stop to think about it, between multiple redundancies, a couple of stints of homelessness, two chronic health problems, a miscarriage, one employer so awful he made the national press and my current state of immobility, I reckon I've had more than my share of misfortune.

Which is not to say that there aren't good parts to my life. I'm incredibly happy with where I'm at right now.

But here's the thing: the strong relationship, the friendships, the creative career, the nice home - that's all my own (and sometimes Steve's) doing. Those are things I have saved up for or worked hard for or tried hard to achieve or put a lot of effort into establishing. Even my pregnancy - as much as it will always feel extremely lucky to me - is not something most people would see as amazing.

The good things in my life are rarely the result of good luck. The good things in my life are the result of perseverance.

And yet I still think of myself as lucky. I still feel like things will work out if I just keep plodding on.

And I do believe there are things we can all do to make ourselves luckier - and that's there nothing mystical or magical about it.

Here's what I suggest:

Save Your Money

Many of the things which make people cry "You're so lucky!" cost money - think glamorous holidays, owning a beautiful home or starting up a business. Even if you don't know what your savings are for right now, building them up will put you in a better position when you do come up with a plan.

Make a Little More Effort Than Necessary

Very few people with amazing careers started out there. Most of them started out in a boring, badly paid support role and worked their way up by proving that they were hard workers, skilled (or willing to improve their skills) in relevant areas and able to maintain a positive attitude in the face of mountains of filing. Whether you're putting in a little more effort than is strictly necessary at work, in a volunteer role or on your blog, you never know when that's going to be noticed.

Make Time for Your Hobbies

One friend is able to run his own kung fu school because he spent years pursuing martial arts as a hobby. Other friends make an income from art or crafts because they spent so long doing those things for fun that they reached a professional standard. You may never think of your hobby as a potential career - you may never ever want to do it professionally - but you never know where it might lead. If nothing else, doing something fun with your free time will make you happier and what could be luckier than happiness?

Be a Positive, Approachable Person

Yes... yes, that's a nicer way of saying "networking". I don't mean you have to go to every expensive Women in Whatever-Your-Career-Is event you're made aware of - just that, in general, it doesn't hurt to be friendly. Chat to other bloggers. Go to your friends' get togethers. Be nice to work contacts. You never know when you will find a new friend or get some good advice about a personal dilemma or be given a heads up about a new job - but that can only happen if you let people know you exist.

Ask for Advice

When I was looking for my current job, I messaged ten different people on LinkedIn who were where I wanted to be in my career - I had met or emailed most of them at some point in the past but I didn't know any of them well. It was terrifying to approach virtual strangers asking how to do better in my career but eight of them got back to me with genuinely helpful, encouraging advice. Sometimes you just need to find the courage to ask.

Focus on the Positive

Scroll back through your recent tweets and ask yourself honestly what a stranger would make of them. Would they see a lot of whinging about seemingly trivial matters? If so, you're in the habit of focusing on the bad stuff. And you can stop. You can simply stop tweeting those things. You can restrict yourself to only tweeting about things which are either positive or too important to ignore. It takes time, but you can teach yourself which things are worth getting worked up about and which are not. Ditching the "life's so full of irritations" mindset makes you feel luckier and happier even though nothing has actually changed.

Take Risks

If you know what you want to do, take that chance. I don't mean leap in blindly. Read up on travelling round Europe on a shoestring budget. Go to Business Gateway to learn how to set up your shop. Research postgraduate funding. Speak to a financial advisor about affording a home. Whatever it is you want, take appropriate steps to prepare yourself and minimise the risks. But at some point if this is what you really want to do you just have to go for it. You can't call yourself "unlucky" if you've never even tried.

16 comments

  1. I like what you say about stepping outside yourself to be more objective. I did this when I was sick, when I had the thought "I haven't lived as much as I should have", so I then started thinking of all the crazy daring (from an outside perspective) things I had done in my life, and made a list. It's full of things I maybe wouldn't share with other people(!), but it made me feel momentarily prouder of my unsung derring do. I over analyze everything though so worrying what other people think of my Twitter feed is probably something I won't do. If I start to worry that posting a dog that needs adopting might make someone sad then I don't know, I might not do it. I try to think "Well you never know someone in Wisconsin might be looking for this exact dog", which to me is a positive thing though I'm sure it annoys some people (I do try to limit it...but I don't ever intend to be negative or gloomy by talking about things that matter to me). I could do with much more risk taking and effort making in general though, completely. Always good advice, so few of us believe in ourselves enough to take risks that could be very rewarding.

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  2. Such wonderful advice as usual, Sarah.

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  3. Very wise words. I find it really hard to be around people with a negative attitude who are always moaning. Everyone needs to have a moan sometimes, but it's incessant negativity I find hard to bear and I actually find pretty selfish.

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  4. These are some great word of advice. I am going to bookmark your post so I can go back to it easily ! It's always good to be reminded to stay positive despite the odds !

    xo, Charlie
    http://charlieleschroniques.blogspot.fr/

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  5. I think there's a difference between tweeting something sad which matters to you and tweeting your rage because the bus is two minutes late. :-)

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  6. Yep, I've worked with some very negative people and it is EXHAUSTING spending eight hours a day with people who only ever see the bad in life! It can't be much fun for them, either.

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  7. Staying positive will improve those odds! Good luck!

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  8. Ah....true! I do think some people treat it too much as a venting outlet (I'm sure I do sometimes too). It's funny though I think that started with Facebook? It seems to have died down on there though.

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  9. Yeah, I wonder if that's just part of Facebook's long, slow demise...?

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  10. Wow you can be very proud of yourself to have this positive look on life after what you've been through and going through (chronic health problems).
    Indeed very wise words and inspiring!

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  11. Great post Sarah! You are entirely right and your positive attitude is v inspiring.x

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  12. Awesome advice Sarah. I love this how to list as well. All positive steps towards achieving what you want.

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Please play nice.