Are You Taking Advantage of Every Opportunity in Life?

Problems are Opportunities

I’ve had a lot of good opportunities in my life. Like most people, I’ve taken some and missed some. But being able to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible is important. Sometimes just one opportunity can mean the difference between an extraordinary life and a mediocre one.

Seize Every Opportunity

Unfortunately, opportunities don’t last forever. But the good news is that you can take steps to make sure you don’t miss out on something truly life-changing.

1. Say “Yes” more often

Taking advantage of opportunities in life starts with simply saying yes to them when they come around. When I went on a large trip to Asia, I asked several friends to come along. I had many show interest, but in the end they all backed out. Years later, several friends admitted how they felt like they had missed out on an amazing trip and should have come along.

Saying yes to yourself also helps. Great opportunities often come from your own great ideas so don’t say no to them. If you’re negative about yourself, you’ll just limit your own options. This is not a good state of mind to be in.

2. Don’t hesitate

Opportunities are, by definition, short-lived. You need to be quick in order to get the most out of them. For example, I’ve known many men who hesitated to talk to women they were attracted to. They waited for the right time to make their move. However, as they were waiting for the right time, someone else would get there.

Opportunities are not always exclusive to you. Others might be tempted to move in on them if they see them. If you hesitate, you may lose out.

3. Take more risks

Opportunities and risk-taking often go together. And the best ones are often the riskiest. Someone starting up a new business is not only taking a risk, but also taking advantage of an opportunity.

Think back to a time when you were sitting on a couch watching television. How many opportunities came your way? Watching TV is low risk and offers few opportunities. Sometimes, you have to jumpstart those opportunities with a risk or two.

4. Have a positive attitude

Having a positive attitude has several advantages. For one, it helps you succeed when you’re taking a risk. In the example above for a person starting a new business, how far do you think they’ll get if they’re negative during setbacks or they only foresee failure?

Having a positive attitude about your chances of success can give you added confidence.

5. Meet more people

When it comes to opportunities, it’s often who you know and not what you know. Imagine someone looking for a job. One person has a network of five close friends and a few acquaintances and another has 30 friends and numerous acquaintances. If their qualifications are identical, it’s much more likely that the person who knows more people will get hired first.

Why is that? The person with more friends has a larger network. More jobs are found through networking than online job postings. So if you know more people, more opportunities will follow.

6. Be Curious

Curiosity awakens your mind and keeps it active. Curious people ask a lot of questions and search for answers. Eventually, you’ll ask a question no one else has asked before. Answer that question and you’ll come up with a new idea.
By asking a lot of questions about the world, you get a better understanding of it. Don’t be a passive player. Try and figure out why things are the way they are. A lot of opportunities come and go without you even realizing it.

7. Focus

Know what you want out of life. If you know what you want out of life, your mind will focus in on that and be on the lookout when an opportunity arises.

This also helps when determining the direction to your life. Someone with the chance to go to law school has an opportunity, but if they would hate being a lawyer they shouldn’t take it. The downside for someone who would hate being a lawyer and still goes to law school is that it takes away your time to do things you are more passionate about.

It’s what economists call an opportunity cost. If this hypothetical person goes to law school, they’re going to spend a lot of time, money and energy doing something they hate. This time, money and energy could be better spent finding better opportunities they’ll enjoy more.

8. Make decisions and stick with them

The flip side to being focused is having no focus at all. A lot of people don’t have opportunities in their life simply because they don’t make any decisions. In the above example with the law student, this person should only stop from going to law school if they know they’ll hate it. If they are unsure or hesitant, they should go for it.

It’s always possible to make the wrong decision, but a wrong decision is still better than no decision at all. When I decided to go to graduate school to get my teaching license I was hesitant at first. I had debated doing it for years and I wasn’t sure if it was a good path for me. However, I decided to just make a decision and stick with it. Now, I just wish I had done it when I first considered it.
photo credit:DonnaGrayson

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Comments

  1. I am a hesitater/over-thinker by nature. I’ve started giving myself deadlines that I need to have decisions made by. Then I can take that tension and anxiety and put it towards making my decision succeed.

    When I decided to move to California, I pondered the decisions for months and it just made me a wreck. However, once I made the decision and focused on the things I had to do – rent a place, pack, etc the anxiety became productive and I could find myself feeling a lot better.

    • Miranda, I was the same way. My first tendency is to analyze everything until every decision I could make is mapped out. And while I think it is good to think through every decision, it does make you hesitate. I saw a few things slip past me because of that.

  2. I’m with Miranda; I over-think. If I think about it too long, I’ll talk myself out of it. Some of the most exciting and interesting things I’ve done were when I just said YES! and didn’t think about it. Later on I was amazed I did it but so glad I took the plunge!

    • I usually don’t talk myself out of anything. For the most part, I know right away if I want to do something or not. This is why getting into the habit of saying yes is a good thing.

  3. We had no idea what our next move was when we came to Turkey but 7 years later, we’re still here – because when you take opportunities and say ‘yes,’ things just happen. Our friends in the UK say we’re really lucky (I used to be a thinker and a worrier) but I’m pretty convinced that you do make your own luck by taking opportunities. And hopefully, the opportunities will keep coming…
    Julia

    • Julia, taking advantage of opportunities really does make you seem luckier. Sometimes all it takes is just saying yes. I’m glad you took that opportunity and made it to Turkey.

  4. perfect post for me today… ugh…

    note to self: take more risks

    thanks bud for writing about this…

  5. I like to think I have made the most of opportunities that came my way. The ones that are painful reminders are the ones that I didn’t realise it was an opportunity at the time.

    • Natalie, I also have painful reminders of opportunities I didn’t see at the time. I use those reminders to motivate me to make sure I don’t miss any more in the future.

  6. Great post Steve.
    People often tell me they are jealous of all my travel adventures but seem not to realise they could have chosen to travel too. They basically didn’t make the choices I did (probably perceived as risky)
    Your post says everything I want to tell them. It’s all about seizing opportunities folks!

  7. This is a great post as always, Steve. Another reason to take every opportunity in life is to avoid regret. I try to live my life focused on my deathbed. I don’t want to be lying there thinking if only I’d… I want to follow every dream and at least try everything that I want to try. Even if I fail, I’ll always know how it turned out, rather than living with the regret of having been too scared to try.

  8. All great points. I especially like #3. Taking risks can be scary but it’s almost always worth it in the end. Even if you fail, you’ve learned lessons that can be applied to your future decisions. You really never lose. Great post, Steve!

  9. Oh, I have a big problem with this. I want to take advantage of every single opportunity of my life, and sometimes it’s challenging – even frustrating! I literally can’t say “no” especially when it comes to travels.
    Once a friend of mine called me from Japan and 3 days later I joined her. And from Cairo I flew to Singapore joining someone who was going there for business. Oh my. My credit card hates me! But I love her as long as she works haha :)
    I don’t really agree on the last point – let me explain. I make a decision, but if I can’t get there now, I will do something else in the meantime. So that I don’t feel like I’m loosing my time and anyway I acquire some different experience… who knows, it can always be useful in the future! Or I can find out I like something else too.
    Anyway, in general, I just hate the idea of wasting time. I define a “waste of time” when you want to do something or change a situation, you can do it, but still you find an excuse not to do it. If you avoid doing this, you will never have regrets :)
    OOOps looks like a quite long comment :p

  10. Thanks for this post :D It’s weird, I seem to think things take a lot more ffort than they actually do, and require a lot more thoguh thtan they actually do. Tet when I don’t think about things, I do them better than when I thought hard. It’s an awful habit. I know that I’m just chucking away opportunities and I really need to just do everything. I learn better when I just do it, I live life when I just do things, I feel like I’m not putting enoguh into life, but actually you just need to make your goals correct, and change your lifestyle and decisions to accommodate them, and the rest (Motivation, effort, etc) will follow, and you’ll realize like I KEEP doing that it really doesn’t require that much from you, just a new perspective on things.

    That post was probably fairly incoherent :P

  11. Hi! I think this is a pretty interesting article. I’m planning on mentioning it in a post on my blog sometime soon, hope you don’t mind. Obviously, a link to your website will be included.

    Cheers for your writing!

  12. senthil says:

    I really appreciate the time you took to write about opportunity and how important it is to say ‘yes’. I have a question though, in my recent life event. I said yes taking the biggest risk in career and I did all it takes to succeed but eventually failed. I hate blaming anyone else involved in this scenario. It seems stupid to think life just threw me one opportunity and I am almost at a stage of thinking of quiting my job without no idea of what I would do. But I love my nature of job and it is just this instance defamed my brand value at work and now finding projects to get me staffed is so difficult. I am curious to hear your thoughts. Thanks in advance.
    SK

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