Create Your Serendipity in 2014

Posted In: The Office
Posted On: 1/6/2014

Happy New Year to You!

I love the beginning of a new year because it provides a fresh start to reassess my priorities and set new goals.  This year, my work focus will be getting my book published and then spreading the word about its key messages.  In this first post of 2014, I want to give you a sneak preview of one of those messages from the book, because it may help you as you plan for your 2014. My upcoming book, Sleep Your Way to the Top (and other myths about business success), is a light-hearted look at business with practical tips about how to navigate that world.  I use myths as the way to introduce difficult situations and then provide insight on how to deal with the situations.  The advice runs the gamut from interviewing for a job to dealing with creepy guys at work to leaving a company on good terms to deciding if you want to sleep with your boss.  But the biggest concept to getting to your “top” is that you can Create Your Serendipity, or in other words, make your own luck. By definition both serendipity and luck mean something that happens to us that is by chance or out of our control.  Good and bad things. I certainly don’t dispute that I have had lots of good lucky things happen to me in my life.  Friends who have popped into my life at just the right time, job opportunities that have appeared from nowhere, good health despite my best efforts to the contrary are just a few of my lucky breaks. And I know for a fact that bad shit has happened to me that was out of my control.  To recount just a few: crappy bosses that made my work life hell, getting divorced because I was a workaholic, my ex-husband dying from cancer at age 49. (Okay, I could have prevented the divorce, but it was so crummy I like to think about it as bad luck.) Like me, I am sure you can make a long list of those things that were out of your control and happened to you, good and bad.  But here is my big thought for your new year: you control so much more in your life than you think!  You can create your own luck—if you are open to that possibility and use this simple framework to set it up: Step One: Set Your Intention.  If you want to create your serendipity, you must have a goal (or goals) to work towards.  You can have one short-term goal, like finding a new job in 2014.  Not just any job, but one that you get excited about. Of course, you can have many goals that cross facets of your life and some goals that are longer term, like owning your own company.  But let’s focus on that short-term objective of finding that great job. What does a great job mean to you? Be specific in terms of the type of work, the environment, the location, and the benefits.  Prioritize the “nice to haves” versus the “must haves” so you clearly understand what you are looking for in this position.  If you don’t know 100%, don’t worry!  Take your best shot at it.  Because (plot spoiler alert!) as you will see, you can’t make a mistake as long as you are learning from this process. Step Two: Open Your Eyes.  This step is the difference between letting life happen to you and having doors open for you.  This may not be easy if you have never done it before.  I will go into much more detail in my book (and give examples from my own experience) on how you can open your eyes, but here is the 101 on the topic.  Most of us are so focused on our own journey that we sleepwalk though life happening around us.  Open your eyes (i.e. take off your blinders) and you will be amazed at how life outside of you will help you in your journey.  By becoming more aware of others and their intentions, you will begin to see connections between seemingly unrelated events.  Connecting these dots will be key to you creating your luck. What does that mean in relation to the intention of finding a new job?  Put yourself out in the world at both networking events and through online connections like LinkedIn.  Don’t come across as overbearing or desperate for the job.  Instead, think of every connection that you make as one that is part of a long-term network, not just for this short-term job pursuit.  Open your eyes to people that are not necessarily in your industry and certainly not just people in positions of power. Step Three: Take a Chance.  This might be the hardest part of creating your serendipity.  Once you see a connection that could enable you, you need to take a chance. It is about having faith in something unproven, something that may seem risky.  But here is the little secret that takes a long time to learn: even if you make a mistake when you take a chance, if you handle yourself professionally and with high integrity, no decision is a bad one. In this example, taking a chance could be to ask to meet someone for coffee to learn more about him and his industry.  It might mean putting your resume in for a job that may appear to be beyond your qualifications.  Or it could mean to ask someone who has a connection for his or her help. Step Four: Live and Learn.  Once you have taken a chance, don’t be afraid to stay the course with your decision.  Let the scenario play out.  It may work.  It may not.  But the beauty here is that you learn from this experience so that you can set your next intention.  Yes, it is an iterative process and the more experiences you have, the more you will iterate and the more fine-tuned your process will become! 2014 is going to rock—go out and create your serendipity!