Here’s How To Get Lucky In Your Career

Photo by Amy Reed on Unsplash

Have you ever looked at someone whom you consider to be wildly successful and wonder how they’ve gotten so lucky? When looking from an outsider’s perspective, it seems that for some lucky ducks, the great opportunities find them.

But often that is far from the truth, and there’s a lot of hard work and preparation happening behind the scenes. If you’re interested in getting luckier, here’s what’s worked for others:

  • They take big risks. I’m not talking about risks like speaking in front of a large group on a new topic, but rather monumental, this-could-be-a-huge-mistake-type risks. Bill gates left Harvard after two years to start what would become Microsoft. Most of us could only dream of getting into an Ivy League school, but Bill was so committed to his vision, that he gave up what was likely a pretty secure future, for an unknown one. If you’re a believer in the saying that your rewards can only be as great as your risks, Bill Gates is a fantastic example. What risks are you willing to take to achieve your dream?
  • They build relationships. Even if you’re the most talented person in the world, you’ll need support at some point, or at least someone to give you a shot. What many assume to be luck, is often based on relationships. When Jimmy Fallon was on Saturday Night Live, he would approach Producer Lorne Michaels after every single show and thank him for the opportunity. They built a relationship and years later, Michaels was instrumental in Fallon’s move to replace the open seat on NBC’s Late Night in 2009. Just like in any job search, a referral goes a long way in creating luck.
  • They fail…a lot. Mistakes are the best teachers, so it’s time to change your perspective. Instead of shying away from situations where you might fail, or getting mired down worrying about slip ups, start considering these par for the course. Learn what you can, readjust and try again. Dr. Seuss’s initial manuscript was rejected 28 times before Random House picked it up. If you believe in your dream, keep persevering until others do as well. If you’ve not yet failed 28 times to reach your goal, keep going. Twenty-nine may be your lucky number, too!
  • They sacrifice…a lot. You don’t often find Olympic athletes-in-training who’ve seen every episode of the latest streaming fad or who sleep in past 5am. The path to success is paved with daily action, which means sacrificing in other areas. There are only 24 hours in a day, and achieving your dream may take most of them. Dolly Parton decided to pursue her musical career, which meant she never had children of her own. She made a hard choice for her dream, and while Parton doesn’t regret her choice, it was a sacrifice nonetheless. When considering the trade-offs, think about what you’ll regret more in ten years – the sacrifice itself or not making one to achieve your goal. This can help you decide.
  • They plan aggressively. With only 24 hours in a day, it’s not enough to sacrifice, but it’s also important to use that time impeccably. Alex Gorsky, CEO of J&J, follows a strict routine, waking at 4 a.m. on weekdays to workout, and being in the car at 6 a.m. responding to emails on the trip to the office. Wasting time isn’t an option if you want to get luckier. Time is the one resource that can never be replenished, so use it wisely. Schedule everything, make lists, set timers and set boundaries.
  • They’re consistent. The way to build a castle is one brick at a time. The same is true for achieving any lofty goal. Overnight success is a myth. It’s daily habits that build to create success. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity hack for staying motivated is a simple wall calendar. Seinfeld puts a large red X through each day he achieves his daily writing goal. After several days of consistent X marks, the visual motivation to keep going is strong because he doesn’t want to break the chain. On the path to success, there are many ups and downs, so maintaining drive can be a challenge. Find what works for you–a coach, reward system or something else–and stick to it. Then watch your luck soar!
  • They believe in themselves. If you don’t believe in your dream, it’s tough to convince others to believe. Actor Jim Carrey dropped out of high school to help support his family, who lived in a van in Canada during some tough times. After he moved to LA to focus on his career in comedy, Carrey wrote himself a check for $10,000,000 in 1985, which he dated for 10 years out. And, a decade later, Carrey hit it big with his first multi-million dollar film Dumb and Dumber. Are you willing to make a $10 million dollar bet on yourself?

Sure, there are some people who are born on third base, so getting to home plate isn’t as much of a stretch. But for the rest of us, there is a lot more within our control than we might realize. Luck certainly plays a part in reaching our goals, but much of what we classify as "lucky" is actually the fruit blossoming from a seed we’ve planted long ago. So, what step will you take today to improve your luck this year?

Happy hunting!

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