My Dad has always told me, "You create your own luck." He also frequently says things like, "Pull my finger." So until recently, these words of sound advice went in one ear and quickly out the other.
Since graduating from college I've realized that my Dad's soliloquy rings true. Sometimes our cards don't play out in our favor, but with a bit of hard work and a little strategy you can learn to play your hand to your advantage.
Many people think that they fall into one of two categories: Lucky and Unlucky. The fact of the matter is that they are neither.
Ask yourself, "Am I prepared to be lucky?" The Roman philosopher Seneca once said, "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity."
So called unlucky people miss opportunities because they are focused on looking for something too specific. They go to parties intent on finding their perfect partner, so they miss their opportunities to meet good friends. They scour job boards determined to find exact job descriptions, and as a result miss other types of jobs that quite possibly would be a great fit. Lucky people are slightly more relaxed and open. Therefore, they see what is there rather than just what they are looking for. Luck isn't just about being in the right place at the right time, it is also about being open to and prepared for luck to happen to you.
Below are 4 ways I've created opportunities for myself, and advice on how you can to:
1. In College: One mistake that my peers made in college that was glaringly apparent was that they would stress out about the wrong things. I would consistently get the same work done, and get the same grade (if not higher) without the fuss. One of the most important skills I learned in college was how to prioritize what was important. Sure it is important to give 100% to everything you do, but the way I see it is that if you have 2 things to do in the same time frame you are really only giving 50% to both projects. Figure out which project needs 80% and which project needs 20%.
Additionally, you should be documenting all your important work throughout your college career in an online portfolio or blog. If you have limited coding or graphic design knowledge, I recommend using Wix or Squarespace. You can do this is 2 hours. If you don't you will graduate college and realize you have nothing to show for yourself except for a framed piece of resume paper with your name on it. Sorry to be harsh.
2. Networking: So many people tell me that they have "no connections". Saying that is essentially admitting that you're not trying. Of course some people have more connections that others and that's life, but I guarantee you that your cousin knows someone. Or your family friend's best friend's sister is the CEO of something fabulous. Or maybe even do something crazy and go to a networking event and shake someones hand! You'd be surprised to find out who will help you if you just put yourself out there. The whole ask and you shall receive thing is real 9 times our of 10.
3. Resources: Networking is your number one resource (see above). Another resource I have found extremely helpful is Angellist. Angellist is a website that helps startups find both funding and talent. It is like the lovechild of LinkedIn and Tinder. You can literally scroll through all the startups and click a button to say if you're interested in working for them, and if it's a match (if they're interested in you too) the website sends an email with both parties attached on it.
Do not forget where you came from. Use your alumni network to your advantage. Since I graduated not too long ago I don't have much to offer, but I regularly meet with students from my college to bond over overpriced lattes and offer advice. There are many accomplished individuals willing to help in your alumni network. Follow the tribe.
Last but not least, LinkedIn. Use LinkedIn to find out if you know anyone at a company that you want to work for.
4. You Already Have The No, Go For the Yes: I have this theory that the number one reason that everyone doesn't have their dream job is because most people are afraid to ask for what they want. People are so afraid of rejection that they don't even apply for the job, or ask the guy out, or introduce themselves to a coworker. We often settle for something in the middle, perhaps not quite mediocre, but certainly not our best. You don't have to be the overachiever who always raises her hand in class, or the girl that has the most confidence and always gets the guy. You just have to remember that you already have the no, go for the yes. If you don't get the yes, you're no worse off than where you were 5 minutes ago.
Lucky people generate their own good fortune. They open their eyes and notice opportunities around them. They make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition. They create self-fulfilling prophesies with positive expectations. Most of all, they are resilient.