From an outsider’s perspective, I’m always been pretty lucky.

From an outsider’s perspective.

I mean, okay…I can’t complain. I grew up in a two-parent household with enough food on the table every night that we were never left wanting. I never found learning difficult and was thus able to do extremely well in school. I am in general good health. And so forth and so forth. There’s no question about it - I have a lot to be thankful for.

But really, I’m no luckier than the average person in the United States.

Yet when faced with a situation that makes one mutter to themselves, “Oh hell…” (or “Oh for pete’s sake” if you’re a PG-rated person), I seem to always find a way out of it. I’ve faced crazy money problems, yet somehow stayed above water. I’ve made mistakes professionally and personally that I’ve been able to clean up without many long-term consequences. When I apply for a job, I at least get an interview (or a second look, in the world of freelancing there aren’t many traditional interviews), and more often than not, I get offered the job.

So from an outsider’s perspective, I have massive amounts of luck.

But I’m not shooting four-leaf clovers and horseshoes out of my ass. The truth is that I’m not so much lucky as I am really freakin’ good at finding a window.

You know, as in that old saying, “Whenever life closes a door, a window opens.”

Lucky isn’t something you can teach. Luck is just cosmic coincidence (or fate or God or whatever you believe). No amount of practice or education can make you luckier - but you can definitely learn to find a window.

Here’s how I do it, time and time again:

  • Be creative.

Life is tough. Wear a helmet.

Too many people give up at the drop of a hat. I understand that being unemployed is hard. I understand that hating your job sucks. I understand that paying bills sometimes seems impossible. Been there…and there…and there. Done that.

There is always an answer to whatever problem you’re facing. Well almost. It’s like the genie from Aladdin. You can’t make someone fall in love with you. You can’t bring someone back from the dead. You can’t kill someone (well you can, but crime in general is not an answer). But any other problem? There is an answer if you get creative and think about it instead of giving up.

This one time, I was given a spectacular opportunity to spend time with a group of friends I’m lucky to see once or twice a year. I had looming deadlines and a total of $100 in my bank account, with rent due in just a few days. I could have just given up, passed on the opportunity to see my friends and actually enjoy life and instead slave away at my computer non-stop and still have to call my landlord and ask for an extension. Or I could have given up on paying my bills, given my landlord and clients the figurative middle finger, and spent the weekend with my friends.

I chose option number three - get creative. With permission from my clients, I hired virtual workers to finish my projects, leaving me with half the money I would have received, but getting the projects done in - literally - less than 24 hours (by myself, it would have taken at least a week). I sold some of my possessions on Craig’s List, because really, I have too much crap anyway. And, with my rent paid and enough money for gas and food, I hit the road.

Lesson: There is always a window.

  • Keep your head down and work your fingers to the bones.

You may feel like you’re banging your head against the wall, but people are noticing your work ethic. I once worked for a blog network called b5media (they’re still around today, but they looked much different when I worked there). The pay? Meh. The benefits? Meh. But I worked. Hard. One month while there, I wrote over 100 posts for their college football blog. Mostly news stuff, but that’s still more writing that many bloggers do in a year.

Immediate benefits? My traffic didn’t suck, so I probably got a little name recognition. Oh, and experience, of course that was good. But really? I’ll say it again. Meh.

And then, over a year after leaving, I got the call to work for BlogWorld. Nikki, the editor of that blog, emailed me directly because apparently my old b5 manager and her were friends and I came highly recommended. I wasn’t lucky to get a job with BlogWorld. I worked for it. I daresay, I earned it.

Lesson: Your hard work today will pay off tomorrow. So will your laziness.

  • Stop whining.

I see it every day: people who are unhappy with their lives sitting around and bitching about it - but not doing a damn thing to change their situation. While you’re complaining that you “just can’t catch a break” from the comfort of your couch, I’m out there in the jungle with a net hunting down that break. Stop whining. Start doing.

When I was in college, I decided to take the plunge and become a full time freelance writer. I didn’t just sit around and wait for people to hire me. I think we can all agree that it would have been a stupid notion to just expect people to suddenly offer me work. I pounded the virtual pavement hard. I took jobs I didn’t necessarily love in order to build my portfolio (and build character). I spent every day looking for new clients. I connected with people. I worked long hours, not just on projects I was awarded but on finding those projects in the first place.

Lesson: Good things don’t come to you. You have to go to them.

In closing, I want to reiterate: I am not lucky. No luckier than you, anyway. You’ve had bad things happen in your life. I’ve had bad thing happen in mine. At the end of the day, though, you can do anything you want. It’s just a matter of finding that open window.

Like what you read here? Stay connected with the After Graduation community and receive a free copy of Career Oomph!, a weekly newsletter to help you stay motivated to find that perfect job:

  1. Miss Britt (Reply) on Tuesday 21, 2010

    Yes! I think the first step is believing there is always a window to find. Once you know it’s there SOMEWHERE, it’s just a matter of looking.

    It’s like when you lose your keys. You’ll look in the most bizarre places and you’ll KEEP looking, because you know they have to be here SOMEWHERE!

    • Allison (Reply) on Tuesday 21, 2010

      I love that analogy!

              General Career
              Job Hunting
              Tips and Tricks
              Site News

    Escaping the 9 to 5 Maren Kate's site is all about leaving the rat race to own your own business. She talks a lot about gaining freedom from the traditional work atmosphere and using virtual workers to achieve your entrepreneurship goals.

    Kommein An important part of job-hunting in most industries is social networking. Deb Ng's site is my favorite resource for learning more about using Twitter, Facebook, and other sites for more than telling people what you had for lunch and sharing party pictures.

    JobMonkey If you're at a loss when it comes to knowing what you want to do in life, JobMonkey is a great site to learn about career options. Their guides cover everything from truck driving to banking. They also have info about the training you'll need to work in these fields.

    Brass Tack Thinking At Brass Tack Thinking, Amber and Tamsen walk you through the process of making things happen, from developing your personal philosophy and brainstorming ideas to implementing those ideas to see real results in your life.

    Lifebeat Lifebeat is a weekly podcast from Nathan Hangen with music by Oleg Mokhov. Every Tuesday, you can listen to some energizing music along with motivational conversation and debate/discussion about concepts applicable to entrepreneurs and employees alike.

    You can find reviews I've done in the past at the following places; I'm always interested in doing more, so if you have something you'd like me to review, feel free to contact me.

    Higher Education This book by by Kenneth Jedding is about the feeling of failure you might feel as you're struggling to find the right path after graduation.

    Billing Boss If you're a freelancer or entrepreneur, Billing Boss is a tool you can consider to meet your invoicing needs. There are both pros and cons to the Billing Boss system.

    How to Write a German CV This ebook is specific to those job-hunting in Germany, but gives you a lot to consider for the non-US job application process in general.

    As you may know, I'm also involved in BlogWorld Expo, which is held annually. I've done some travel-related reviews which you can see here:
              -Border Grill