Make yourself luckier today
Author: Tatenda Sithole
Don’t you just hate how some people seem to be so lucky? You must know what I mean right? Those people who seem to have the perfect job, the perfect lifestyle, even the perfect body. The kind of people who make you believe that maybe the Midas touch does actually exist.
But are these people just born lucky? Or can you grow-your-own luck?
The great news is – with a little bit of positive thinking and framing your thoughts to influence your actions you too can become luckier even today! It won’t win you the lottery, but it’s a start to creating your own luck lottery that only you can win. Here’s how you can become luckier now.
Ask people how they see you
This is the most difficult so let’s start with it shall we. Feedback is always good. Even if it is something we do not want to hear. Do not look at it as a criticism or slight on who you are. Rather embrace it as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and thus better yourself (Miller, 2012).
Do you have close friends or someone whose opinion you respect and value? Think about someone who is tactful enough yet honest enough to tell you the truth if you ask them. Have a discussion with this person about how they perceive you. What things do they like about you? What things do they dislike? Ask them for specific examples during this exercise if you are unclear about anything. When you act a certain way what do they see? How do they interpret it?
Listen. Don’t try to justify, just listen.
Thank them for their feedback. Now take some time and think about what they said. Is this how you see yourself? What are the similarities? Differences? Are you surprised?
How do you see yourself?
Be honest with yourself. What are the things that you like about yourself? What things are you not so keen on? What things do you wish you could change? Write them down. Just bullet points will do. Now expand on them so you can see any patterns. So for example if you wish to change your social patterns, maybe your list could include warning signs like spending too much time alone on ‘virtual’ platforms, being moody and disengaged when out with friends, not being interested in taking calls. Choose your top 5 warning signs and observe for when they show up over a period of 21 days. Don’t forget to write down what was happening when this warning sign popped up and what you felt was being threatened (Bounds, 2009).
Be an individual
Choice. Modern existence is flooded with it. But for all the choice in the world why is it still so difficult to find yourself? What do you wear? Where do you spend your social time? What job do you do? The answers to these questions aren’t going to magically pop out of your smartphone (its smart but not that smart). On some level you have to sift through these and make your own mind up about what is meaningful to you as an individual.
Miller (2010) has an interesting chapter on leaving the past behind and learning to embrace your individuality. Some of the things I found interesting were about giving yourself permission to let go of the past. If you have something that you’re still holding onto emotionally, or you wish you could have changed, you need to give yourself permission to let it go so that you can begin to embrace who you truly are. Let go of your anger over things. Express your anger in a safe and controlled environment – maybe you can yell out the anger, go running, punch a punching bag. Verbalise what made you angry, and let it go. Deep breath. Try some relaxation. Now forgive yourself or the person who made you angry. And forget about it. Move on. Affirm to yourself that the past is gone. It is no longer part of who you are now. Now replace those negative feelings with a positive affirmation of who you are now.
When you can learn to let go of the past then you can learn to gain control of your present and subsequently your future. You can start to make decisions for you and the things that matter to you. And you can start to test out what you – the individual – enjoy. Try visiting www.AuthenticHappiness.com today and try out the VIA Survey of Character Strengths to discover what areas are important to you.
Stay true to your values and you can begin to embrace friendships and relationships that reflect these.
Set your goals
What is your dream? If you could wave a magic wand and be transported to an ideal place say, 5 years from now where would you be? What would you be doing work-wise, socially, family-wise? What would a typical day look like for you? Who would be there to share it with you?
This is your ‘imagined’ reality. Where subconsciously we all want to be. But the reality is that for many of us this fantasy will always remain that – a fantasy in our minds. Unless we aim to change that of course.
Look back at your ‘magic wand’ world. How much of that is driven by desire, and how much by practicality? What is achievable? Remember whatever it is you need to put in the hard work for it. The heart can be very romantic and set goals that we know logically might be either out of our power – maybe you wished to win the lottery – or do not ‘fit’ with who we are.
Setting life-goals has to take into account who we see ourselves as being, but more importantly it requires that we acknowledge that in order to get to where we want to we will need to put in some work.
So when you are going for your goals keep these points in mind:
– If you desire it try it out. Fantasy is great but reality might not be so much fun. Want to be the next great journalist? Get used to going out there hunting for stories and talking to people on the ground.
– The harder you work towards your goals the more likely you are to attract people who will help you achieve them.
– Toughen up. Realise that change is a gradual process and allow for yourself to get things a bit wrong every once in a while. Learn from perceived failure. Listen to other people and take their feedback on board. Do not push people towards helping you with your goals. If they want to come along for the ride then they will do so because that is where they want to be. Be patient and practise self-control. Emotional responses are great for a fight. But when planning for long-term success you will soon realise that not every fight will win you the war. Always weigh out your options. Analyse your options but not so much that you are frozen into inaction. Choose the best possible path and proceed. Have a role model or a mentor. Someone you admire who has done what you want to do. Look at the bigger goal and break it down into smaller achievable goals. Set yourself milestones along the way to the end goal. Celebrate these. Always keep the goal-post in mind and keep pushing towards it.
Go for them
Prepare yourself for luck. Priming your mind to accept luck encourages you to actively ‘see’ opportunities or things that come to you. Have you ever suddenly found the answer to something that was worrying you right in front of you? Or had a eureka moment? The world around you is full of opportunities. You just have to open yourself up to receive them. Before you go looking for the opportunities though you need to address these barriers that could hinder you:
– Inaccurate self-perception.
– The idea that opportunities exist only for certain kinds of people.
– An attitude of ‘I am right and I can prove it’ – stuckness.
– Poor reasoning.
(Source: Miller, 2010)
Now that you realise that sky truly is the limit for you go out there and touch your sky. If you have something you have always wanted to do – a great idea or starting that long-shelved hobby – now would be a good time to start at least one thing today. Find out more about it, talk to people who are already doing it, make time in your life to start taking steps towards it. Opportunity won’t come knocking on your door. You have to go out there and place yourself in situations that are most likely to move you from passive desire to action. And you will find that the more you place yourself in a position where opportunities are bound to occur, then the more opportunities will open up to you.
Change is a process, not an event. Remember that you are working at changing habits that have been present for many years. The ‘norm’ for you might be the subtle insecurities or negative patterns of thought from before. These can creep in when you least suspect it. Maybe that niggling voice telling you it’s all too good to be true? Or that pessimistic shoulder buddy that tells you people are only being nice to get something from you? Bounds (2009) has a useful spot check inventory you can try out when you think one of your negative patterns warning sign is returning. Ask yourself:
– Am I being selfish?
– Am I being inconsiderate?
– Am I being dishonest?
– Am I being fearful?
– Am I being self-seeking?
Be someone people want to get to know
A lot of modern existence pushes us to believe that self-interest should be the aspiration. This encourages an I-am-better-than-you mentality where we jump on people’s weaknesses. The reality though is that when you have a pushy and self-centred persona people subconsciously or consciously put boundaries up against you. They might even take steps to avoid future contact with you (Walton, 2012). Cultivate your emotional intelligence by developing your listening and skills of critical analysis. Empathise with what other people are experiencing, and you will be better placed to communicate with them as individuals. The ripple effect of this is that people will begin to gravitate more towards you, and might actually start being ‘nice’.
Whatever you do it, do it wholeheartedly. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to communicate with a person who appears ‘vacant’ or emotionally distant. Besides, if your focus is divided you could easily miss that golden opportunity that could change your life. Being constantly ‘engaged’/ hyper-vigilant elevates your stress levels and negatively impacts your ability to function at your best. Just as much as you need a break from work, you also need a break from other compartments of existence. Leisure activities are just as important as putting the work in, so make the time to find that balance as this reaps major rewards in other aspects of our lives. The highly relaxed mind can stretch far more broadly and quickly than a tense one so make sure you put in time for relaxation (Baylis, 2009). That way, when you are engaged in an activity you are wholly there and not daydreaming about your bed for example.
Surround yourself with people you want to be around
Finally, and this should really go without saying… But surround yourself with people that you want to be around. Be clear with yourself about who your real friends are, and who everyone else is. Everyone else would be workmates or other people with whom you have acquaintances in different realms. You will never be able to please everyone, and for those people you ‘have’ to get along with for work or other purposes keep it relevant. Your real friends are going to be honest with you even when everyone else is busy telling you what they think you want to hear (Street-Porter, 2009).
So it is possible to take control of your luck and get the things that you want. But there is no magic wand we can wave while the magic happens around us. A nudge in the right direction will do wonders for increasing our ‘luck quota’ time and again. What are you waiting for? Go out there and become more lucky today!
Bayliss, N (2009): The Rough Guide to Happiness. Rough Guides Ltd. London.
Bounds, D (2009): Fulfilled: A Personal Revolution in 7 Steps. Pearson Education Limited. Edinburgh.
Miller, D (2012): The Luck Habit: What the luckiest people think, know and do… and how it can change your life. Pearson Education Limited. Edinburgh.
Miller, S (2010): 7 Secrets of Confidence. CPI Mackays. Chatham, UK.
Street-Porter, J (2009): Life’s too f***ing short: A guide to getting what YOU want our of life without wasting time, effort or money. Quadrille Publishing Limited. London.
Walton, D (2012): Emotional Intelligence: A Practical Guide. Icon Books Limited. London.