This Saturday, I will graduate from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a Bachelors of Business Administration degree in Innovation and Entrepreneurial Management with a specialty in Marketing. The course of my college career has taken many unexpected, but wonderful turns and as I look back upon the journey, a quote from Roman philosopher, Seneca, comes to mind and establishes the basis behind so many accomplishments and good fortune in each of our lives: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
This definition of “luck” can be applied to many situations in life – passing the CPA exam, landing your dream job, getting a promotion, having children, even something like buying a new home. Sometimes, you may experience someone who deems your accomplishment or reason to celebrate as “lucky” or others may see you as “having all the luck” because of the good fortune that seems to repeatedly fall upon you, as if it was pure fate and required no effort from you. However, as you have most likely seen happen in some of your own experiences, there is merit to another common saying -“You create your own luck.” The two ideas can be combined to help you accomplish your next big goal in your career or in your personal life. There are some key success factors to creating your own luck and they involve preparation and seizing opportunity when it arises.
- Identify your goal and map it out - once you have determined your next goal, define it to make it as specific as possible. Map out your intentions and how you will measure your progress toward your goal. Write down your goal, what result it will produce, by when you want to accomplish it, how this goal will benefit you and any others involved, what steps are vital to reaching your goal, and who you will keep updated on the progress of your goal. Download our Goal Setting Worksheet and use it to document your goal and clarify your actions. This tool can be adapted to any type of goal, whether it is career-related like establishing a new niche practice in your firm, or a personal goal like improving your physical health through exercise and diet. For me, this was achieving my undergraduate diploma while maintaining an excellent grade point average.
- Assess and Pivot - once you define your goal and map it out, don’t stow it away forever in a drawer, only updating it in your head. Establish a periodic updating session where you read over your goal and the things you’ve committed to and assess the progress you’ve made. Update it if you’ve achieved steps towards your goal, had valuable insights about a particular element of your goal, or have mental notes that you want to ensure are remembered later. The timeline in achieving your goal and the need will determine when your periodic updates will be. They can be quick weekly updates where you set aside 15 minutes to review your progress or they can be monthly updates where you might spend a little more time really thinking about your goal’s progress. Schedule these assessment sessions in your calendar so they don’t get away from you. This is the time to determine what may not be working in your efforts and may cause you to pivot in a new direction when necessary. After studying architecture for three years, I realized that I would not be happy if I continued and would instead achieve my personal and career goals by pivoting and pursuing a degree in the College of Business. I re-set the steps necessary and the by-when date to achieving my goal to accommodate this pivot in my journey.
- Visualize – mapping your goal out will paint a picture in your mind of how you will achieve your goal and what the result will be when it is accomplished. It will help you actually see it happen and the way you want it to happen. Play this picture in your mind whenever you can and remind yourself that you can see yourself accomplishing this goal and that it’s within your reach. Visualizing is a powerful tool used by many high-achievers and professional athletes. When I was an architecture major, I saw myself one day presenting my final thesis and receiving positive feedback, followed by attending my graduation ceremony with a job lined up for the next phase in my career path. When I pivoted to become a business major, I still visualized myself at my graduation ceremony and with a job lined up, but matching my new pursuits and career goals.
- Be open to opportunity – you have earnestly prepared for the accomplishment of your goal. You understand your goal and the steps you’re taking to achieve it. You’re assessing your progress and you may have had some bumps along the way where you felt slightly discouraged, or one of your original plans didn’t work out the way you expected and you had to pivot your course. But you’ve altered your vision to fit these changes and continued to visualize yourself accomplishing this goal and the way it will make you and any others affected by it happier, too. You’re preparing for accomplishing your goal and making sure you’re ready for the opportunity to cross the finish line. Maybe it’s finding that dream job opening in the city you’re moving to or a house coming into the market with exactly the number of bedrooms you wanted AND that custom Swedish sauna you budgeted extra money for. Take pride in knowing you’re prepared for this grand opportunity in your life and that you can feel secure in taking the next big step in achieving your goal and seeing your vision play out in real life with your colleagues, friends, and loved ones cheering you on as you cross the finish line. Or in my case, accept my undergraduate diploma and shake my college dean’s hand. My perfect opportunity was gaining a position at ConvergenceCoaching and setting new goals as I further my career and leave my undergraduate studies.
You can use these four strategies to prepare for and accomplish your next goal so that when you meet that perfect opportunity, you can feel like you are the luckiest person at that moment, but internally you know the effort and planning you’ve made to welcome this opportunity and to rock it like you have.
We love to hear about your experiences. Have you had an opportunity arise that occurred because of your preparation and focus in achieving a goal you set? Do you agree that often times, feeling lucky about your career or your accomplishments is less about fate and more because of the efforts you’ve made to get where you are? Let us know in the comments box, below!