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Luck and logic : How to make your own luck?

Do you believe in luck? Do you believe some people are luckier in whatever they do? I certainly did, but a recent conversation with one of my friends made me doubt my belief.

What happened? She called me lucky!


“You are very very lucky!” – my friend told me in a voice filled with envy. ”We had to pay a ton of money even for a regular pregnancy and your insurance paid you for pre-conception genetic counseling?”, she protested angrily.

This is not the first time she was commenting about my luck. According to her, I am very lucky to have gotten into the school I went to, I am very lucky to have found the man of my dreams, I am very lucky to have found a job that I liked and more recently I am very lucky to have the opportunity to work from home.

I usually ignore this type of conversation as I know she expects someone to hand her a job without her even applying for it. According to her, she is always the victim and everyone is plotting against her. I usually just listen without commenting.

This time though, I snapped. Lucky? Hold on a minute, I am not lucky…I planned for it. I worked really hard for it. And I am paying $1300/month for my insurance, something that she easily dismissed as luck. She chose her high deductible insurance knowing fully well it wouldn’t cover the first few thousand dollars of treatment. She chose to pass over the better insurance that was available to her because the premium was higher. She chose to not research the hospitals and doctors beforehand because it was complicated.

I just planned ahead.  It wasn’t luck or chance. How dare she discount every single thing I accomplished as me being just lucky? What does she know? That is so unfair!

I created my own luck!


I was about dismiss the entire conversation and go on with my life, but I heard a little voice in my head, “Hang on a moment kid, you make that mistake all the time!”

“What? Of course I don’t! I know the difference between luck and hard work!”

“Do you really?”, The Voice reasoned with me again, “Let’s take the three things you have been complaining about in the last month –

  1. You think your husband is lucky for losing so much weight while you struggle to even lose a single pound.
  2. You think one of your fellow bloggers, who you think writes filler posts, is lucky for getting a lot more traction, while your 25-30 hour researched posts return lackluster results.
  3. Your think your friends were lucky to have made a lot of money in the current real estate boom in India.

Do you really think these people were just lucky?”

Umm… Do I really think the success these people enjoyed was solely based on luck?

Well, I wallowed in self-pity and never really sat down to evaluate all the other factors that might have contributed to their success. Somehow on this particular day I was generously unbiased and decided to take advantage of that rare mental state to study how each of my envied subjects might have created their own luck and what lessons I can learn from them to pave way to my own success. As I suspected, I have grossly overestimated my effort in my successes but when it comes to others’ success, I tend to overplay their luck rather than give them full credit for their effort.

How to create your own luck

How my husband created his luck

I have a medical condition that makes it very difficult for me to lose weight, a disadvantage my husband doesn’t have – Pure good luck.

He exercises every single day, rain or shine; whether he feels good or bad; busy or otherwise.  Me? I give up too easily. I concentrate on the negative side of the equation – I am not going to lose much weight anyway, so why bother? I concentrated so much on convincing myself that it is all worthless that I didn’t give myself a fair chance. – Don’t self-sabotage your chances for success.

He experimented with so many different types of food until he stumbled upon something that is healthy and helps him with his weight loss. I only tried what worked for him. It didn’t work for me, so I moved on. I didn’t make an effort to try new things that would work for my body. – Try different things. Good things come to people who try.

How the fellow blogger created his luck

I have been dealing with so many medical situations that have prevented me from giving my full attention to this blog, a setback my colleague didn’t have – Pure good luck.

I might consider a post that gives “couponing & making a list” as great new tips to save on groceries a filler post. But that is just my opinion, who am I decide what is a good post and what is not? It might be too trivial for me, but might be useful for different audience. And also, it doesn’t change the fact that he still wrote a post for his audience on a reliable schedule, week after week, which I have failed to do so far.  – Be persistent.

He was not obsessed about writing the perfect post. He was not trying to get every single thing right and didn’t get frustrated when it didn’t work out.  I was afraid to fail. I was afraid of losing what I already had, however little that was; I never tried any new bold strategies. – Don’t be afraid to fail.

He reached out to fellow bloggers for help which I have never done.  – Maintain a strong social network.

How my friends created their luck

When we graduated with an undergraduate degree, I decided to go to graduate school while some of my friends decided to enter the workforce. Two years later, most of them bought a house or land in India. The price at that time was very reasonable. Fast forward to now; the real estate market is booming. Properties that they bought for $2000 are now selling for $50,000 or more. That amounts to 2,399.78% for the entire period! I had $2000 at that time, but I didn’t think about investing at that time. I was living paycheck to paycheck. – Take calculated risks.

I was focused on one track, get a master’s degree and get a good job. I was not open to any other opportunities. –  Keep your options open.

What else can I do to create my own luck?

Make most of the curveball life throws at me: Yes, I had some setbacks but now that I think about it, these setbacks also provided me with some opportunities that as a single minded person I have ignored so far.

Act: Most of my failures can be attributed to my inaction more than anything. I procrastinate, a LOT. Inaction is the surest path to failure.

Practice: So as difficult as it is to accept that I am wrong, the only logical conclusion I can come to is – yes, luck exists, but it is not the only ingredient in most success stories. Luck can be created. Luck favors those who work to seek it.

Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.

What part do you think luck plays in anyone’s success? Can you succeed without luck? On the other hand, can you succeed with just luck?

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Pauline

There is a bit of luck here and there, but most of the time you provoke your luck. My friends say I am always lucky because I find lots of money and stuff. I generally look on the floor when I walk, so find more money than the people who look in the air (not luck, action), and don’t hesitate to grab something else and fix it up for my own use (when they go to the shop and buy, not luck, choice).
“lucky” people aren’t afraid to try many things and “unlucky” people tend to forget how many times the first have failed before “finding luck”.

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Emily @ evolvingPF

I think many of us are susceptible to what you identified – overestimating your own effort in your successes and overestimating luck in the successes of others. It’s sort of like a psychology principle I learned in college that I can’t remember the name of – where when your friend does something annoying or that harms you you attribute it to a character flaw, whereas if you do the same thing you excuse yourself as having a bad day or otherwise acting out of character.

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Kathleen, Frugal Portland

It’s great to be able to step back and listen to the voice in your head. That said, I think you’re fabulous.

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Holly@ClubThrifty

I totally agree in creating your own luck. I think it’s a Thomas Jefferson quote as well…

“I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

So true!

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My Financial Independence Journey

My current job is the result of a bit of luck and a bit of planning.

I picked my last training position very well. Almost every position I applied for was with a high level academic. By some stroke of luck I got my former position. If I didn’t, I had another potential offer coming up in six months time. But just to be fair, I also got the academic equivalent of being told to go to hell from two places that I applied to.

Then I waited and worked hard. Despite the training environment being sub-optimal, I managed to make a descent enough impression. Then by luck my current company had a job opening. I got the interview because of my mentor. The I prepared constantly for the interview, going over practice questions, looking up who I was interviewing with, thinking of questions to ask when I was there. I brought my A game and then some.

I don’t know if I got my job by luck or by being the best interviewee. But I’m not the kind of person who always makes great first impressions and there is no way that I could have been anything other than the least experienced person who applied for the job. But somehow things worked out.

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krantcents

I don’t believe in luck! If I believe in luck , I also have to believe some people are unlucky. The typical unulcky person has a lot of excuses for their particular circumstances. Every time I was lucky, I did a lot of work to make myself lucky.

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101 Centavos

Amat Victoria Curam – victory loves preparation. It’s become my favorite latin saying. Plan well, work hard, take care of details. “Luck” is sure to follow.

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Jon @ MoneySmartGuides

Lucky people just prepare for the opportunities so that when they present themselves, they are able to take advantage of them. So in a sense, lucky people are best prepared while unlucky people are not prepared. Look at it this way: you save your money for a house down payment. Your friend does not. The housing market crashes along with interest rates and you are able to afford a great house with a reasonable mortgage. Are you lucky and your friend unlucky? If that is how you want to define it, then yes. In reality, you were prepared when this opportunity came and your friend wasn’t. This isn’t to say you knew it was going to happen, you just prepared yourself for if and when the opportunity presented itself.

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John S @ Frugal Rules

I don’t tend to believe in luck myself. Sure, things happen for your good from time to time but I think a lot of it comes down to being persistent and working to achieve what you want. It means putting meat on your plans and work towards them. They might not always be successful, but the lessons you’ll learn will be invaluable for the next thing.

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Kim@Eyesonthedollar

I think luck is how we perceive it. I found the most amazing job after I did not get the job I thought I really wanted years ago. That turn of events has led me to where I am now. If I had seen the lost job as bad luck, I might have taken the first thing available in the same area and always resented the “lucky” person who took my job. Somehow, I was able to make it an opportunity to do something totally different in another part of the country that has worked out in spades, so I was “lucky” after all. Every challenge creates new opportunities. Lucky people take advantage.

Much more interesting post than reading about coupons, even though there is a place for that as well!

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S. B.

“Chance favors only the prepared mind.”
- Louis Pasteur

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