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5 Ways to Be Lucky at Work (and Everywhere Else)

Topics: Career Advice
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Are you a lucky person?

Trick question. As a wise man once said, “In my experience, there’s no such thing as luck.”

If you’re about to counter by naming friends and acquaintances who seem to always find the four-leaf clover in life — and especially, in their career — keep in mind that what you perceive as luck is probably the effects of a lot of hard work.

The fact is that you can make yourself into a “lucky person” by changing a few things about your perspective and approach. Here’s how:

1. Develop an Internal Locus of Control

Do you determine your fate, or do things just happen to you? If you answered the latter, you have an external locus of control — and a bit of work to do.

People with an internal locus of control feel that they affect their circumstances by what they do. This doesn’t mean that they think of themselves as all-powerful and in charge of everything — just that they see the opportunities to affect their situation. It’s a mindset that allows them to make change when change is possible.

2. Cultivate a Positive Attitude

Similarly, having a positive attitude doesn’t mean denying reality or pasting on a smile when you’re feeling down. It means looking for the bright side, and not allowing bad days to turn into bad weeks, months and years because of inertia. Being positive can give you the energy to get up when life knocks you down. That’s essential for long-term success.

3. Surround Yourself With People You Admire

“[Y]ou are the average of the five people you associate with most, so do not underestimate the effects of your pessimistic, unambitious, or disorganized friends,” says Tim Ferriss, productivity guru and author of The 4-Hour Workweek. “If someone isn’t making you stronger, they’re making you weaker.”

So, choose your friends wisely and minimize contact with people who bring you down.

4. Practice Enjoying Hard Work

Do you suffer from a tendency to procrastinate? A positive motivation strategy might help you realign your thinking.

Australian performance consultant Jeffrey Hodges suggests the following experiment:

Right now, think of six tasks that are on your agenda to do this week. They might be work tasks, an assignment due for some course you’re doing, home chores, or training for your sport – it doesn’t matter. As you think of each task, rather than say to yourself, ‘I have to do such-and-such’, think instead: ‘I want to get that report to my boss by Friday morning’…. I now use this process for everything I choose to do – including wanting to put in my tax return on time!

5. Look for Opportunities to Help Others

The best way to build a network of contacts who’ll want to help you when you need it — when you’re unemployed, for example, or when you need a killer recommendation for graduate school — is to help others. So, don’t want until you need something to think about what you can do to reciprocate.

The best part is, helping other people doesn’t have to take a lot of time. All you need is the habit of thinking beyond yourself, and that’s something you can develop with practice.

Look for opportunities to give a friend or colleague a hand, whether it’s writing them a LinkedIn recommendation, sharing a job opportunity or helping them with a big project when deadlines loom. You’ll feel good about yourself and you’ll be forging the kinds of connections that pay off for all involved.

The next time you need a reference or a job or advice on a tricky work situation, you’ll find a lot more people in your corner, waiting to help.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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