As I have done nearly every year for the last 5 years here on Career Opportunities, I have chosen a theme for the coming year. This year is no exception and, in fact, this year’s theme is a very personal one for me. I see 2014 as a Year of Opportunity. As I emerge from my own year of transition, I see the great importance of attracting, recognizing and accepting opportunity in my life and career and I believe it is dramatically important for you, too. Everything we do, from the smallest actions to the largest goals should take opportunity into mind and use it as a way to focus our energy and attention.
Now available exclusively to Career Opportunities readers and Listeners.
The most powerful actions you can take in your life and career are those that attract opportunity to you. While we can all go seeking opportunity, helping opportunities to find you is a much more productive and, in some ways, is much less tiring than other methods. Even more, attracting attention to you is something you can do every day and in every way. You can build it into your day-to-day actions and make it part of your life instead of something outside the norm.
As I have often said in the past, attracting opportunity to you begins with telling my those around you “what you do and how well you do it.” This can take many forms, but in today’s world it usually starts with social media like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. If you develop good connections, share great information and generally help those connected to you, you can’t help but attract opportunity to you.
When you regularly share and network with your connections, you are constantly held in their mind. When these people start a project or expand one, you can and should be one of the first people they think of. You will have laid the foundation for future opportunity in these relationships and it is something you should do constantly. Share your biggest successes and, more importantly, how you achieved them. Answer questions that arise in your network. Be the one eager to help and opportunity will be attracted to you.
The next big step in making this A Year of Opportunity it to recognize opportunity when it walks into our lives. Too often we ignore, or dismiss opportunity, simply because it is too new, too scary or even too much work. There is a famous quote from Thomas Edison about opportunity.
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
Work that expands our lives and careers should be sought out and embraced, even if there is a bit of hard work involved. In fact, most opportunities worth pursuing require hard work of some sort. Life doesn’t often give you gold simply for being you. You need to share your knowledge and show your worth and this often means some long hours, if not actual physical labor. In fact, if you don’t feel that a project is worth putting in a good deal of hard work, it is very possible that the project isn’t important enough for you to pursue. You may need to look for another opportunity that you love enough to commit to it completely — hard work and all.
Sometimes we miss opportunities because they seem to strange or different to us. If someone comes to you with an offer to do work outside of your normal comfort range, it is still important to consider the opportunity andj the new directions it might take you. While it is certainly more comfortable to live your life as it has always been, reaching out for new horizons can offer you some amazing possibilities in your life.
This brings us to the third part of our Year of Opportunity — accepting the opportunities that come to us. We must allow ourselves to explore and consider the opportunities that come into our lives. There are several reasons you might reject opportunity in your life and all of them are destructive behaviors that need to be overcome.
The first, and I consider, worst is the rejection of opportunity because you do not feel worthy. Too many of us come to believe that we don’t deserve new opportunities. For a variety of reasons, including bad jobs, unemployment, family issues, health problems we can come to believe that we don’t deserve anything beyond what we currently have. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. You are all worthy of building the career you deserve. If you are willing to put in the work, you have already stepped above a large group of people who are unwilling to do the same. Never let anyone tell you don’t deserve better in your life and work. While none of us are entitled to a great career, through our hard work and dedication, we all deserve it.
The biggest reason people avoid, ignore and dismiss opportunity, though, is out of their own fear. I know this because I have struggled with fear just like everyone else. When an opportunity presents a bigger challenge than usual, or requires a change in mindset, focus or location, it can trigger all sorts of “fight or flight” responses. You need to clearly recognize these responses and postpone them. Instead of rejecting opportunities out of hand with a kneejerk response, take a deep breath, tamp down the fear, and consider — just for a moment — where the opportunity coud lead. There is no need to be afraid, you are simply thinking about the opportunity, not agreeing to turn your life inside out. Too many of us react as if we are committing ourselves to an opportunity when we are only considering it. Let yourself think and dream a bit. There is never any harm in that.
Remember, fear is a great indicator of projects and opportunities that we need to investigate further. It shows that there is a challenge there, a stretching of our thoughts and abilities in new and different ways. An open door can be scary, but it can also lead to a new, better, greater, more exciting, more fulfilling life and career than you can even imagine. Don’t slam the door in opportunity’s face. Greet it with a smile, a friendly handshake and invite it in. This is one of the best ways to build the career you deserve in 2014!