I am a very lucky person.
I was lucky enough to be born in the United States with (reasonably) good health. I was also lucky enough to be born to parents who wanted me to be successful in life and constantly did things to push me to learn and to succeed.
I have a wonderful wife and two great children. I live in a nice house. I’m currently doing the work I’ve always dreamed of doing. I have a flexible enough schedule that I can do things when I want to do them. I have enough financial security that I’m not worried about making the bills next month.
The first two elements were genuinely lucky. We have no control over how we’re born and how we’re raised.
However, as adults, we are in control of our own destiny. Every day, we make a lot of choices that have a huge impact in determining what happens to us. We can work hard – or we can take it easy. We can be frugal with our money – or we can spend with reckless abandon. We can set big audacious goals and work hard to get there – or we can sit back and wait for whatever may come.
For most of my early professional life, I just sat back and waited for whatever might come along. I worked hard at my job, but I wasn’t conservative at all with my money – I just spent it on everything that came along.
By 2005, I was in trouble. I was moving away from the career I wanted. I was in debt. I was living in a tiny apartment and, with a child on the way, it was clear that space was becoming an issue.
So I wised up and made some changes. I reordered my life so that luck would have a place to grow. I stopped spending money recklessly and started saving instead. I came up with a professional goal (becoming a published writer) and worked hard to achieve it. In short, I changed my life so that more luck could find a way in and bad luck had a harder time opening the door.
Everything was not just handed to me. I was born poor and have been called “white trash” and ignored more times than you can imagine simply because of how I grew up. I was also born with hypothyroidism – it was diagnosed when I was three days old. I’m also nearly blind in my right eye and completely deaf in my left ear.
Those things are obstacles in my path. It would have been easy for me at many different junctures in my life to stop and say, “You know, this is just too much.”
One crucial element in receiving good luck in your life – and keeping bad luck at bay – is to simply not give up. If you fail, pick yourself up, figure out what went wrong, work on fixing that problem, then give it another try.
Trust me on this one. With my eyesight and subpar balance due to the one-ear deafness, the idea that I could ever play basketball was almost a joke. Yet I played enough throughout high school and into college that I was a key part of a very successful intramural team and even played in a few pickup games against players on the university team.
You can overcome the bad luck in your life. Just don’t give up and don’t waste your time complaining and blaming others.
Cut Down the Tightrope
Want to get started on improving your luck? The first place to look is the areas in your life where you’re walking a tightrope.
What areas in your life stress you out the most? What areas can afford the least amount of failure? Those are the areas that are the most likely to introduce some very bad luck into your life – plus they restrict you from making choices that will improve your luck.
Focus entirely on shoring up those areas. Perhaps that area for you is your job – if you lost your job, you would be in crisis mode. Maybe you’re living paycheck to paycheck and a major unexpected expense would drop the hammer on you.
Whatever that area of concern is, solve it. Start building an emergency fund – that’s a good buffer against almost every kind of bad luck. Secure your job by working harder – and working smarter. Look to improve your own skillset so that you have more career security.
When your life is secure, your stress level drops and you have more breathing room to try new things. That breathing room is often the source of good luck in life, as it gives you opportunities that were impossible when things were tighter.
Want more advice for cultivating day-to-day luck in your life? Here are a ton of ways to get started.