Are you the type of person who accepts ‘that’s just how things are’ in your working or personal life (or both)? Do you sometimes wish you had more opportunity to achieve all the things you really wanted to do? But the right opportunities just never seem to come along.
Think again. Perhaps they are there if you knew where to find them. Being able to identify potential opportunities isn’t something you can or can’t do. It is possible to change your focus to help you to tune in to all the possibilities around you. You just need to lay the groundwork to help you see them – and sometimes even create them in the first place.
Why you may not be spotting life’s opportunities
As life goes on it can become increasingly difficult to accept new and different ideas and approaches. Not because you are consciously rejecting them but, because you’ve always done things in a certain way, the tendency is to say ‘that’ll never work’.
Things may have gone well for you up until now. You’re in a good job so surely you must have a pretty good grasp of the right way to do things and run your life? And yet you can’t shake the feeling that things don’t quite ‘fit’ together anymore and things could be better.
Actually, there is no one right way to run your life and that’s where the problem could be. The way you think – even if things have previously gone well for you – may actually have narrowed your focus. By becoming so immersed in the planning and the detail and your day to day existence in general, you’ve lost the open mindedness you need to see those opportunities.
Pre-set your brain
Psychologists have identified the key lies in priming your brain with the problems you need to address or the opportunities you are after. In other words, you need to put in some time up front to work out what it is you are looking for – a new job, career or project perhaps. This allows your brain to start preparing itself to be on the lookout. It then needs time and freedom to start scanning for possible ways forward.
So how do exactly do you get the right mindset?
1. What is your ideal ‘future you’?
Picture yourself in a few years’ time. What are you doing? What would you like to have accomplished by then? Where would you like to be? Thinking this way will start focusing your brain on the end game.
Once you have a better idea of where you want to be and what your goals are, write them down. For each goal, identify specifically what you’ll gain if you are successful. Read through your goals and potential gains regularly to help keep your brain tuned in.
2. Actively seek out inspirational figures
There are many people out there we can learn from. And no, you don’t need to have personal access to Richard Branson to manage this one. There are loads of inspirational individuals around.
So think about people you admire. Who would you love to have a chat with? If you know them, why not ask for half an hour of their time? If you don’t then get creative about how you could approach them. Do you have any mutual connections? Do you have a LinkedIn network that could help you get in contact with them? Or simply try sending a polite email explaining why you admire them and why you’d appreciate some time with them. You’ve nothing to lose and potentially a lot to gain.
3. Get brainstorming
Any idea for improvement is worth considering. So just give yourself some time to think then scribble everything down. Get into the habit of doing this for a few minutes every day. Don’t dismiss anything as ‘not good enough’. Even if the initial thought doesn’t come to anything, the thinking process it triggers could be really valuable.
It will take time and effort but get your brain into the habit of identifying possibilities and you’ll start looking at people and situations as new untapped sources of opportunity. It’s summed up perfectly by the great Louis Pasteur – ‘In the fields of observation, chance favours only the prepared mind’.