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.
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.