Training Yourself to be Ready for Opportunity
You’ve heard it said that opportunity comes to those who prepare for it. But how can you prepare for opportunities that you don’t know are coming?
Saying ‘yes’ to a new experience isn’t easy. Saying ‘yes’ to trying something new also means saying ‘yes’ to difficulties and a possibility of failure. This fear of failure keeps most people in their comfortable habits and rituals, where they know what to expect and what is expected. Giving into comforts and habits, people shy away from taking the risks associated with success and opportunities. So how do you break your habits and prepare to accept opportunities into your life?
Train yourself to say ‘yes’.
If you ask the average person to run a marathon, they won’t be able to finish. Give that person several months to train and they’ll be able to cross that finish line confidently. In the same way that we can train our bodies to overcome new challenges, we can also train ourselves to be open to new and unfamiliar experiences.
Say ‘Yes’ to Small Risks Every Day
‘Training’ is a process that teaches a person new skills. Just like athletes train to be ready for their next feat of strength, skill, or endurance, you can also train your mind to be open towards new opportunities and risks.
Training starts with introducing something new in gradual doses. As your training progresses and your level of skill and familiarity increases, you are able to take on more difficult tasks – tasks you could never take on before your training began.
To put this into action, practice taking small risks daily. Each day challenge yourself to step outside of your comfort zone. Over time you will become comfortable doing things that once scared you, so remember to keep pushing your own limits.
Things to say ‘yes’ to trying include:
- Start a conversation with the person beside you on the bus
- Attend a networking session and speak to 5 new people
- Go to the movies alone (it’s not that scary – you’ll soon realize no one cares enough to judge you)
- Send an email to that person you had an interesting conversation with at last week’s networking event
- Make an apology that is long overdue
- Wear something completely ridiculous, just because you can
Once you accomplish these relatively small tasks and realize that stepping out of your comfort zone is liberating rather than scary, over time your comfort zone will expand. Once you make a habit out of being open to new experiences, the next time an opportunity presents itself you’ll be able to naturally avoid hesitation and jump right into enjoying the new experience.
Do a Little More
Be willing to take on slightly more than you think you’re ready to handle. Has an employer asked you to handle a project you think you’re not completely ready for? Want to apply to that program you think is too difficult? Is an executive position in a school club just calling your name, but you don’t think you have enough experience? Your passion and motivation can often make up what you lack in technical skills or know-how.
When you only feel 80% ready to tackle something, change your perspective. Instead of the situation being something you’re not ready for, see it as an opportunity to learn faster than ever – to accelerate your learning curve. Real learning begins when you have no choice but to learn things quickly, ask questions, and push yourself – welcome it.
Be Physically and Mentally Strong
Taking on a new opportunity can be taxing; new endeavors require effort, energy, and mental fortitude for the times things don’t go as planned. Make sure you prepare your body by exercising, eating right, and not depriving yourself of sleep. Lastly: meditate, meditate, meditate. Learning to have a steady mind while your outer environment is chaotic and shifting is a skill that will prepare you to face even the most foreign situations.
Prepare Yourself – Learn Continuously
When you feel prepared, you’re less likely to question your abilities or wonder if you’re ‘cut out’ for the task. Learn all you can about the field in which you want to seize your opportunities. Are you hoping to land your dream job at a certain tech company? Learn all you can about programming languages. Striving to get noticed by a prominent finance firm? Read and digest every bit of financial news you can get your hands on. By staying on top of new trends, continuously developing your skills, and increasing your knowledge of where you want to be, you will feel more prepared for when the time comes to finally take that ‘leap’.
Read ‘The Flinch’ By Julien Smith
The Flinch is one of those rare books that has stayed with me long after I read it. The premise is that humans have evolved with a ‘flinch’ mechanism, which has served humanity in protecting us from possible harm and danger. However, in modern society this reaction isn’t useful to us – how much more could you accomplish if you could overcome your hesitations and fear of the unknown? This (very short, and free e-book) gives you insights into that instinctual fear and practical exercises on how to recognize fear and overcome it.
Once you make a habit of being open to new experiences, you’ll be surprised at the number of opportunities you’ve never noticed and be ready to take them on.