Synchronicity

Synchronicity, in the words of Wikipedia, is “the experience of two or more events, that are apparently causally unrelated or unlikely to occur together by chance, that are observed to occur together in a meaningful manner.” It’s an idea that first popped up in psychology in the 1920s (thanks to Carl Jung).

Synchronicity is something that I think happens quite a bit in our lives. In fact, I think that synchronicity tends to be a big part of the reason we latch on to certain ideas and motivations. We are independently hit with ideas from completely independent sources that build up or reinforce some idea in our head. We might read an article on self-improvement on a blog, then overhear a friend talking about a similar thing. Multiple events happen very quickly in our life that pushes us onto a completely unexpected path.

We often look at “positive” synchronicity as luck. I got my first post-college job due to positive synchronicity, as a connection with one person and work on a project completely independent of that person happened to simultaneously catch the attention of the person who offered me that job. They seemed completely independent, yet they both occurred in my life at the same time and they both resulted in the same meaningful thing.

We often look at “negative” synchronicity as proof of Murphy’s Law. We get a pink slip and, on the way home, our car breaks down. A few weeks ago, my car had some minor issues and my shoelace broke almost exactly at the same time, leaving me limping around and wondering why I was cursed.

Our lives and our finances are better whenever we have more instances of “positive” synchronicity and fewer instances of “negative” synchronicity. It seems fairly obvious, but it’s true.

The trick, however, is to do what we can to make that happen. What can we actively do to encourage and amplify positive synchronicity and discourage and minimize negative synchronicity?

Have a big, fat emergency fund. The obvious impact of this is to minimize the effects of negative synchronicity. If you lose your job and your car breaks down, the impact on your life will be less if you have cash on hand to handle it.

What often isn’t noted is that it can amplify positive synchronicity. If you hear of a great sale from one person and of a particular great item from another person, you might experience some positive synchronicity by seeing that item at the sale, but you can’t take advantage of that unless you’ve got the cash. For example, I once found a bunch of vintage trading cards in the back room of a local store. Positive synchronicity enabled me to be at the right place at the right time with the right knowledge to know how valuable they were compared to what the person thought they were worth, but only cash allowed me to buy them right on the spot.

Have a wide-ranging skill and knowledge set. Let’s say you just got put in charge of a tricky new task at work, then go home and find that your toilet has exploded, leaving you exhausted and nearly in tears. Well, if you have a strong skill set for your job and some plumbing skills, this disaster isn’t nearly the disaster that it might be otherwise.

Again, diverse skills not only cover negative synchronicity, they can also help with positive synchronicity. In my own life, for example, my experience with two seemingly independent areas of knowledge eventually led me to getting a very nice college job and, eventually, a post-graduation job as well. If I had just one of those skills, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity, and I didn’t anticipate anything of the sort when I picked up the separate skills.

The more skills you have, the better. Can you use Photoshop? Can you fix an outlet? Can you do basic home plumbing? Can you prepare a meal over a campfire? Do you read a variety of materials? All of these things – and countless others – are fertile ground for synchronous moments.

Have a burgeoning social network. Over and over again, the existing relationships we have cause a positive synchronous event. You’ll be able to connect with person A because you both already know person B. On the flip side, you’ll have a multitude of simultaneous problems that can be eased by asking a person you know for help.

It’s well worth your time to grow and cultivate your personal social network. The more people you know and have some sort of real association with, the better.

Our lives are full of synchronicity. We almost always win if we put ourselves in a position to maximize positive synchronicity and minimize negative synchronicity.

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