Sometimes it really is all luck. But most times, it’s so much more. I believe we make our own luck by maximizing our chances of good things happening. And that requires work. So the harder you work, it seems, the luckier you get.
As I’ve said often, most of what happens in our lives is not a surprise. Yes, we can fall ill, get injured, or win the lottery. But most of the time we can see what’s up ahead. You can be fairly certain that when your parents get older, one or both of them is going to need care, either at home or in a facility designed to provide the needed care. No surprise there, unless you’ve closed your eyes. As your children grow up and talk about going to college, you can be fairly certain you’re going to experience an empty nest. No surprise there either.
How you handle those situations will depend to a large degree on how much you’ve prepared for them. Before your mother has “fallen and can’t get up,” have you and she talked about her medical condition? Does she have a way to contact someone when something like this happens? Is there a neighbor with a key who checks up on her?
When the last of your children is packing his things for freshman orientation have you thought what you might want to do when you return to the silence in your house? Have you reached out to friends or made plans? Talked about new work opportunities? You knew this day was coming. Did you think if you just ignored it, all would be well and you’d just figure it out when you needed to? Hardly. The people who just happen to fall into wonderful lifestyles and for whom great opportunities open after their children move away didn’t rely on luck. They worked hard preparing for that day. They put in much effort. They talked with employers or supervisors. They sought out training. They perservered.
What others see from the outside is just how lucky they were that the perfect job just happened to come along when they needed it. Or that a wonderful visiting nurse’s aide “just happened to be available” when your mom needed someone to come in daily.
But from your perspective, you know that you prepared for that moment, you worked hard to prepare before mom fell. To those watching, you were so lucky. But you know better: the harder you worked, the luckier you got.
Ten years ago, John and Andrea sold their successful business and moved to a small beach community. They rented for a year while their new home was being built, during which time they spent most of their time overseeing the construction, getting to know the community as full time residents, not as visitors, and involving themselves in local activities. John became active with the country club and Andrea became a volunteer firefighter. After the house was completed, the both felt they needed more to do so John got his real estate license and joined a brokerage. Andrea began painting. Fast forward six years, when they felt what they were doing still wasn't satisfying enough so they bought a restaurant from a local who wanted to retire.
"They were so lucky that the restaurant was available, just when they were looking for something more," many residents commented. No, that wasn't at all what happened. John and Andrea had investigated, planned, and prepared for the acquisition so that when the restaurant did become available, they were able to jump on the opportunity.
Luck, indeed: luck that came from hard work.