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Whether you are looking for your first job, your next job or a complete career change, a chance meeting or unexpected turn of events will often be the catalyst for taking you in a different direction, setting you on a completely new path in life. 

All it takes is to recognise and be ready to take an opportunity when it comes along.

Being in the right place at the right time – is it simply a matter of luck?lucky symbol - four leafed clover

We all know someone who has landed an amazing job or been offered a great opportunity just by being in the right place at the right time. Some people just get lucky, right?

Despite these good luck stories, new careers don’t simply come handed on a plate. If you dig a little deeper, you will find that the ‘lucky people’ actively took steps to be the one who was in the proverbial right place at the right time.

Luck is not about simply sitting back and waiting for things to happen. Action is required. Yes, being lucky can be cultivated, through something I like to call ‘Intentional Serendipity’.

What is Intentional Serendipity?

When you actively pursue one thing and something different and unexpected results, it’s called serendipity. Pure luck can spring from nothing, but serendipity is created unintentionally from something else. ‘Intentional’ serendipity is simply doing more things that are likely to stimulate other things. Essentially, you are being the catalyst for revealing things that you were unaware of or even that did not exist until you started something.

You may be thinking; how can you plan for the unplanned?

In his book, the Luck Factor, Dr Richard Wiseman presents the results of his study of exceptionally lucky and unlucky people to determine how luck manifests. Proven that ‘lucky people’ share four common factors. They:

  • Trust their gut instincts
  • Expect good fortune
  • Turn bad luck into good
  • Maximise chance opportunities

How to maximise your chance opportunities
‘Lucky people’ are skilled at creating, noticing and acting upon chance opportunities.
They do this in various ways, including building relationships and maintaining a strong network. Part of this is keeping in contact with people you know but also getting to know new people or those you don’t know well.

Weak Ties

This sounds like a negative term, but it refers to those people you know in passing, by association. In your community, they are your neighbour’s boss, your relatives’ old school friends, the members of your best mate’s Dad’s football or hockey club. They are the friends of friends of friends.

Actions that intentionally cultivate luck

To tap into this extended network involves taking an interest in people and what they are doing and having more conversations. The more you talk and listen to people, the more they get to know you and you them. You can read more about this in an earlier article on The Social Job Search.

Share your dreams

By talking about your aspirations and what you are doing, people are more likely to think of you when they are talking to others. By doing this, you have increased the chances of being recommended if something crops up that they think you might be suited to.

Be an alert listener

By listening to others, you are more likely to hear about a potential opportunity to volunteer and get some experience. Just getting involved in a community project, fundraising activity or club event will put you more firmly in people’s consciousness in a positive way.

Listening sometimes presents other opportunities to make your own luck; you may stumble upon a conversation about a challenge or knowledge gap at a business that you know something about, putting you in the unique position to offer a solution using your skillset.

Other traits of lucky people

The other ‘lucky’ traits mentioned, like expecting good fortune, trusting your instincts and turning good luck into bad, are centred around attitude and mindset. These are discussed in more detail in another article; The positive mindset of the lucky – a self-fulfilling prophecy. (coming out in late March 2018)

For now, know that remaining positive will help keep you focused on attaining your goals and more attuned to recognising opportunities when they present themselves.

Relax and enjoy the journey

The trick with cultivating luck is that it can take time, so you need to be patient. Relax and enjoy the new experiences and people you are finding along the way. In a relatively short time, the chances of being in the right place at the right time has increased ten-fold.

Adopt a relaxed attitude to life and be open to new experiences. Engage more with your wider network and the community.  Your luck factor will be far greater than if you stayed within the confines of your immediate family and friends. Not only that, but you will find yourself part of something bigger and your life will be the richer for it.

When it is your turn to be in the right place at the right time, as it inevitably will be, you will be better equipped to know what to do with your good fortune.

Sue Graham is a professional career counsellor and career advice specialist based in Dunedin, Otago. If you would like to know more about the Social Job Search or some help with finding your next role, Contact Sue here

If you are interested in Richard Wiseman’s book, The Luck Factor you can find out about it here on the author’s website.