What is luck? Is it really the ability to acquire and magically imbue objects with power to make your life better? It is really about having events just happen to you, out of the blue, with no effort or input on your part? Why is it that some people seem to achieve personal and professional success over and over, while others struggle? 

Sometimes—the very rare times—yes, luck just happens. Maybe you see something fascinating in the forest during a hike, find a 20-dollar bill on the street, or the weather complies with important outdoor plans.

But, in the majority of cases, “luck” happens because the lucky person has employed a systematic approach, consciously and unconsciously, to ensure forward progress toward the realization of their dreams and goals. It’s not as simple as just getting lucky.

Do any of these statements sound familiar?

“You’re so lucky not to have a mortgage any more!”
“You’re so lucky you have such a nice figure!”
“Yes, I’m so lucky to have great kids/a supportive spouse/a great job/etc.”
“He’s so lucky…I wish I could follow my dream like he does!”

We often think of success as a side effect of luck, but it’s actually a series of actions and events, including planning, choices, failures, setbacks, and challenges that happen over time.

Let’s demystify the process of success and create awareness—so you can start getting lucky too.

There are 3 main aspects to “luck”: vision, planning, and execution.

When you have a goal, start by creating a vision of what success looks like.

You need to be crystal clear on the outcome that you want, why you want it, and what it will look and feel like once you have it.

Let’s talk about specificity. Too often, people choose goals that are too vague or nebulous to work with. They make statements like:

I need to be healthier. I want to lose weight. I need to be stronger. I want a good job. I want a normal relationship. I’d love to run my own business someday.

None of these goals are specific.

Let’s pick one and get crystal clear: I want to be healthier.

This is where some heavy lifting takes place. You need to take time to reflect on what you really want and then articulate it clearly, thoroughly, and specifically:

It is July 15. I wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and ready for the day. I feel great in my clothes. I’m healthy. I’m stronger, leaner, and have more energy. I am able to do 10 push ups, and to easily run 5 km. When I carry the groceries in the house, I feel strong and capable. I am able to go out with my partner and dance all night. I am treating my body with respect and love.

With a clear vision, it’s time to put a plan in place. Planning must be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time based. 

You can’t just sit on the couch reflecting on your vision, waiting for it to happen. You need to take action.

When creating your plan, start by taking inventory of the resources available to you. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I need to achieve my goal? What do I currently have that can help me?
  • What skills/resources will I need? How can I secure them?
  • Who do I need to meet? Who can I ask for help?
  • What changes do I need to make to my schedule to achieve my vision of success?

If we continue with the example, “I want to be healthier,” you may determine that you need to dig your old running shoes out of the closet, book a few sessions with a personal trainer, block time in your calendar for a morning workout, or sign up for a cooking class to help get you out of a take-out rut.

Your resource inventory will help you map out a plan to reach your goals. The next step is to execute your plan. Even if things don’t go exactly as you imagined, you will likely find that the universe will conspire to help you achieve your vision.  

You must learn to say yes to opportunities as they present themselves.

The term synchronicity was coined by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung and ultimately refers to “meaningful coincidences.”

The appearance of synchronicity is the result of a well-known psychological phenomenon called confirmation bias: we more easily notice and remember things that confirm our beliefs than those that do not. Our brains are very good at making connections and noticing important data in seemingly random patterns. Positive = more positive, negative = more negative. It is the context of the glass half full/half empty cliché. What you see is your reality, and your reality then follows suit.

Some of the most life-changing and direction changing events have happened in my life simply by saying ‘yes’ to an opportunity, triggering a cascade of experiences that helped shape my life, ultimately bringing to me what I wanted all along. Some would say that’s getting lucky. I know better.

When opportunity knocks, open the door and invite it in! Fear and laziness will not bring you luck. You must face the fear, and do the work required to say yes.

I’m reminded of the old joke: John prays and prays for God to help him win the lottery. Week after week he prays for his luck to change, but nothing happens, until finally, one Sunday, he walks out of church, God parts the clouds, and booms, “John, buy a ticket already.”

As you work to plan and execute your vision, you will increase awareness of your surroundings, and begin to notice new opportunities. Buy the ticket. Say yes.  

Now, you may be thinking, “if I say yes to everything, I will be swamped and exhausted.” Just as important as saying yes to the right opportunities is learning to say no to things that don’t move you toward your goal.

This is the flip side of the same coin. You must learn to say no to people and things that do not fit your vision. I am not advocating walking away from responsibilities like feeding your children, or taking care of your health and finances, but saying no to tasks that don’t provide benefit can have a profound impact.

I have a fridge magnet that says, “Stress is when your heart says no and your mouth says ‘sure, I’d be glad to!’”

You must consciously identify what you say yes to that hinders your ability to realize your vision.

For example:

  • Say NO to doing the bake sale (unless you LOVE doing the bake sale)
  • Say NO to any toxic people in your life, the naysayers who like to sabotage your efforts. They are exhausting.
  • Say NO to social events and online activities that take you away from your vision path.
  • Say NO to doing everything for everyone else (parents, children, spouses, friends, co-workers, etc.) at the expense of your vision. You will all be better off for it.

So where do you start?

What sets your heart on fire? What are you passionate about? What are you good at? These questions are the starting point for your vision. Spend time reflecting, articulating, and writing what you really want—and why you want it.

Make sure you want it for the right reasons. Sometimes, what we want is not what we want, but what others want us to want (or worse, what we think other people want us to want).

When you start to worry about what others will think, the bubble is highly activated, and we spend too much time in our heads to take action.

I’m not suggesting you live in a cave by yourself and poo-poo everyone’s input. There is often great value in others’ opinions, expertise, advice, and values.

Instead, I encourage you to be crystal clear on what YOU want in YOUR life, and to stop worrying about “what will everyone else think?” Find your tribe—people to support you and your vision. Maybe they’re family, maybe they’re friends, maybe they’re in the room, and maybe you haven’t met them yet. But find them, and nurture those relationships.

When you align what you want with the limitless resources available to you, and choose to activate your commitment, you will be amazed at how lucky you become.