Get lucky: The 4 things you need to do to make next year amazingBecome a master of your own fate and maximize your happiness with a few easy tweaks.
Some people have all the luck -- and it's high time that you became one of them. I'm not talking about windfalls like winning the lottery or discovering a priceless Monet at a garage sale. I'm talking about the kind of luck that can snag you the right job, partner, or apartment -- the kind that makes everyday life happier and helps you thrive.
The truth about this kind of luck is…that luck has very little to do with it. What does matter: becoming master of your own fate using these strategies.
1. Forge a new path
The more you attend events where you don't know a soul, dare to travel by yourself, or simply talk to a stranger in a coffee line, the luckier you'll be, says Richard Wiseman, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire who has researched luck for over a decade. Case in point: Public radio reporter Lisa Napoli almost skipped the cocktail party where she met a friend of a friend who later invited her to work at a fledgling radio station in the tiny Asian kingdom of Bhutan. The sabbatical proved to be a life-changing experience.
To put yourself in the way of fresh opportunities, think beyond family and friends to farther-flung folks, from casual acquaintances to online connections. And don't overlook what sociologists call "weak ties": the former kindergarten playmate you now follow on Facebook, or the fellow latte lover at a neighborhood café. These people on the periphery of your day-to-day life may hold the most potential to deliver the magic of "I know someone who knows someone," a link that can lead you to something unexpected and wonderful.
One way to connect with virtual strangers is to take what I call the Burgundy Challenge: Strike up a conversation with someone wearing burgundy within a 24-hour period. Try taking a new route to work or shopping at a different market while on the hunt for the magenta magnet. Opening yourself up to new experiences like this expands your social network and your chances of getting lucky.
2. Believe you'll succeed
Lucky people think of themselves as lucky -- which perpetuates that lucky cycle, helps them shrug off setbacks more easily, and keeps them striving for what they want. A key component of this sunny way of thinking: Don't see every setback as permanent ("This will last forever!"), pervasive ("My whole life is ruined!"), or personal ("Why does this always happen to me?"), explains Martin Seligman, Ph.D., a positive-psychology expert. Those who feel blessed with good luck subscribe to the three P's differently. They're more likely to see lucky streaks as permanent ("Bet I can keep this going!"), pervasive ("Hey, I won the bid for the apartment; maybe I'll get a callback interview for that job, too!"), and personal ("This feels like my lucky week!").
So if you discover you've sent out a résumé with a glaring typo in it, see it as a temporary, erasable error rather than a permanent Sharpie Mark of Shame. Remind yourself that it's a tiny job-search snafu, not an indictment of your character. Simply correct it (send a cleaned-up version with an e-mail saying, "Read this CV instead, please") and then refocus on the finish line.
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3. Try multi-shirking
Conventional wisdom holds that the harder you toil, the luckier you'll get. That's true, but only to a point. Surprisingly, you'll catch more breaks if you take more breaks. Research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign suggests that when you interrupt long stretches of focused attention with short breaks, your mindset may change so you think about a problem differently. That's why, when I'm stuck and spent, I multi-shirk: I send a "not another adorable kitten video, Mom!" e-mail to my kids, shake it to Katy Perry, and play a silly video game. Ten minutes of happily unknitted brows, and without fail the next great idea materializes.
The more enjoyable your breaks, the better -- to help you become clearer on which goals you'll find the most satisfying to achieve. "The more fun you have, the more you get to know yourself and the more clarity you get about what you want in life," says master life coach Susan Hyatt, author of Create Your Own Luck: 7 Steps to Get Your Lucky On!
4. Flip the story
Take it from Hamlet: "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." Which means that depending on how you view it, a spate of tough luck could turn out to be a lucky break in disguise. Naomi, a woman I worked with, was crushed when her husband asked for a divorce. (Worse, he started dating her close friend!) Aileen's colleague got the promotion Aileen had been counting on. And Kendra couldn't stop beating herself up after she missed a deadline for submitting her art to an important competition.
But when I invited each of these women to "flip the story," to look at how their seemingly bad luck might have helped them dodge a bullet or set them up for something even better, Naomi revealed that deep down, she'd known her marriage needed to end -- a year later, she's in a happy new relationship. As for Aileen, "The woman who got that promotion is constantly stressed out," she told me. "The job was the wrong fit for me." And Kendra admitted that her art wasn't quite ready for that contest. Months later, she has a piece she can't wait to submit.
Next time you're dwelling on all that's going wrong, ask yourself, How does this setback make me stronger, smarter, or clearer about what I want? Once you do, you'll be on your way to relying on your own resourcefulness to achieve your heart's desires.
I'd wish you luck, but you won't need it.
Betsy Rapoport is a certified master life coach and the creator of the JoyQuesters program. Visit her at betsyrapoportlifecoaching.com.
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