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“Most people don’t lead their own lives – they simply accept the limited life that is handed to them by others.”

When Opportunity Knocks, How Will You Answer?

by Chris Nelson-Jeffers, Class of 1980

We live every day surrounded by a sea of endless opportunity.

In spite of this most people, no matter what their circumstances, will bemoan “never having had a chance” – to get ahead, to live the kind of life they want, or to earn the kind of money they feel they deserve.

Opportunity

Opportunity is defined as a favorable or advantageous circumstance or combination of circumstances which provide an opening for you to progress or advance forward toward the attainment of your goal or objective, or a situation or occasion wherein it is possible for you to do something you want to do.

Most people tend to think of opportunity in terms of immediate result – the offer of their great-paying dream job, acceptance into their preferred college, or getting front-row tickets to a sold-out concert or finding the perfect dress they’ve wanted … on sale!

In truth, opportunity is contained in any circumstance that if properly pursued and acted upon, will move you forward in the direction of something you want.

For example, getting that great job may come only after pursuing and accepting opportunities to hold several other preceding jobs that prepare or position you for your “dream job”.

Those intermediate jobs will themselves come as the result of your pursuing previous opportunities to take the sort of classes that created an academic record that lead to being accepted into a good college.

As the French novelist and poet Victor Hugo put it, “Opportunity is often delivered in a fog of uncertainty.”

An opportunity is not a guarantee of success, either in the pursuit of or as a result of a given opportunity. Investment (of time and money), effort and risk-taking are required.

Myth: Some people are just “luckier” than others

“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” – Seneca

“I find that the harder I work the more luck I seem to have.” – Thomas Jefferson

Preparation is a key factor in success.  It is also a key factor in experiencing and recognizing opportunities.

How many times have you missed out on an opportunity because you just were just not “ready” or prepared to take advantage of it?

If you are like most people, it has been many times – more times perhaps than you like to think about.

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit. It’s up to you to figure out and decide for yourself what that seed is.” – Napoleon Hill

In the case of missing out on an opportunity because you were not prepared, the benefit you receive may be the knowledge of what you now need to do in order to be better prepared to take proper advantage of an opportunity next time.

For example, if you didn’t have enough money on hand to invest in that business opportunity, you now know that you need to work on your “savings-book habit” and build up your savings, or build up your relationship with your bank, or attract investors –  or more likely, all of the above.

Maybe you were missing certain skills or knowledge. Now you know what you don’t know, and you can undertake to fill in that deficiency.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas A. Edison

Know What You Want

Have you ever purchased or become interested in a particular make and model of car, only to suddenly become aware of just how many cars of that same make and model are out there?

The number of that type of car hasn’t suddenly increased, but your awareness of it has.

The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon is where things that you are focused on suddenly seem to crop up everywhere. This phenomenon, also known as “frequency illusion” is based on two psychological processes – selective attention, and confirmation bias.

This is the science behind what is known as the Law of Attraction and “manifestation,” and is key to your experiencing greater opportunity.

It’s not that the number of opportunities in your life will have increased, but your awareness of them will have – and you will also be sensitized to recognize those opportunities which will best advance you toward the attainment of your ultimate goal, enabling you to disregard other less relevant opportunities and thus conserve your time, energy, and resources for those best suited to your desired ends.

Decide on your goal – your Chief Definite Aim. Visualize it down to the greatest detail. If it’s a car, think of the make, model, color, interior trim, and features. Feel yourself driving it down the road, the steering wheel in your hands.

If it’s a house, think of the style, how it’s constructed, color and trim – even the lawn and landscaping.  Feel yourself walking through the front door, then through every room. Furnish each room in your mind the way that you want your house to be furnished and appointed.

Preparation

“The unprepared mind cannot see the outstretched hand of opportunity.” – Sir Alexander Fleming

Here’s how to prepare yourself to be ready and alert for more opportunities:

Keep on Learning – particularly with regards to information related to the opportunities you are seeking and to your end-goal.  Constant learning – especially reading – stimulates the mind and provides fuel for your creativity and will further stimulate your awareness of the opportunities around you.

Budget and Plan – this means your time as well as your money. True budgeting is not just spending less money than you take in, it is planning how to use every dollar you have – and every hour of every day – to its utmost usefulness. If you are always on top of your finances in terms of saving and not getting into debt, you will be better positioned to be able to invest in an opportunity.

Know Yourself – your principles, morals, values, and goals. Know what’s most important to you, and why. When you know who you are, it’s easy to say yes or no to an offer or opportunity because you will immediately know if it is right for you or not.

Preparation

“The unprepared mind cannot see the outstretched hand of opportunity.” – Sir Alexander Fleming

Here’s how to prepare yourself to be ready and alert for more opportunities:

Keep on Learning – particularly with regards to information related to the opportunities you are seeking and to your end-goal.  Constant learning – especially reading – stimulates the mind and provides fuel for your creativity and will further stimulate your awareness of the opportunities around you.

Budget and Plan – this means your time as well as your money. True budgeting is not just spending less money than you take in, it is planning how to use every dollar you have – and every hour of every day – to its utmost usefulness. If you are always on top of your finances in terms of saving and not getting into debt, you will be better positioned to be able to invest in an opportunity.

Know Yourself – your principles, morals, values, and goals. Know what’s most important to you, and why. When you know who you are, it’s easy to say yes or no to an offer or opportunity because you will immediately know if it is right for you or not.

Focus On Success

You tend to attract what you think most about, so think positively!

The main thing about success is to know what you want, know how you are going to get it, and to focus on doing what it takes to succeed.

Know What You Want – as in goal-setting, the first step in getting what you want is knowing what it is. Be specific and clear in your mind. Visualize the details. Feel as if you have already achieved your aim. A burning desire fueled by emotion is a powerful and unstoppable combination.

Know Why You Want It – having a solid WHY will keep you moving toward your goal even when things get tough. If what you want is money, what is it that you want to do with the money? What will having money mean to you? Having money for its own sake is almost never enough. Money is a tool, and a means for accomplishing and achieving what is really and actually important to you. Understand what really matters.

Plan It Out – as you create your plan don’t leave anything to chance. Remember the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. If you are clear and detailed in your plan, you will recognize when an opportunity will further your plan. Conversely, you will also better recognize when a situation or opportunity will not serve you, saving you from wasting valuable time, energy, and resources on distractions.

Remain Flexible – almost nothing ever goes exactly according to plan. When circumstances change, you must be ready and willing to adapt to them. As you execute your plan you will also find more and better resources becoming available to you, that may not have seemed possible when you created your initial plan. While your exact plans may change, never lose sight of your goal. Keep your eye on the ball.

Prioritize – not everything can be top priority all of the time. Saving up enough money or developing an adequate stream of income on which to live might need to happen first in order for you to pursue your ultimate goals.

Developing certain specific skills you need may have to have a higher priority than things that can wait until later. Paying this month’s rent probably should be a higher priority than hiring an architect to design your dream house. Keep moving forward. You’ll get there.

Reward Yourself – most goals and long-term plans are going to be composed of a series of smaller, intermediate goals and achievements. When you have achieved a milestone in your plan, celebrate it and reward yourself. Experiencing that reward for your small achievements will energize you and help you focus on that still-to-be achieved future goal.

It’s not wrong to want to achieve your desires and to be successful. Disregard those voices – either from others or in your own head – that try to tell you that it is selfish, indulgent, or narcissistic to concentrate on the attainment of what is important to you.

You cannot help others in need if you don’t have the resources and are in need yourself. Put 100% effort and focus on achieving your goals, so that you become self-sufficient, strong, and able to help others when needed.

Opportunities multiply as they are seized – Sun Tzu

Once you start designing and living your life of abundance and living your life in a way that brings you satisfaction and happiness, you will be more prepared to recognize and take advantage of the opportunities that surround you.

Your emotions are a strong driver of your actions. Properly contained and utilized, your emotions can be channeled as a powerful tool in your quest toward the attainment of your ultimate goal.

On the other hand, you must be careful not to let your faculty of reason be overruled by your emotions.

Be alert. Don’t allow your emotions seduce you to pursue “opportunities” that are un-wise, counter-productive, a drain on your resources, and which will not move you forward toward your objective.

When considering any opportunity remain mindful of your larger goals and objectives. Weigh your options based on your goals, your plans, your values, and the facts which you observe and have obtained from trusted and verified sources. Partner with your emotions, but keep your faculty of reason firmly in charge.

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill

Opportunities surround you. It’s up to you to see and to act upon them.

Your background, your upbringing, and the voices of the naysayers around you have perhaps up to this point left you unable or too afraid to respond to the opportunities that have already been knocking at your door.

Decide for yourself that this will change TODAY, this very minute. It’s up to you to take charge of your own life, to prepare, and to be ready to take advantage of opportunity.

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About the Author

Chris B. (Nelson-)Jeffers is a BCS graduate from the Class of 1980. He is a website developer and manager with his company Breckshire Digital Marketing Solutions, a writer, published author, Napoleon Hill trainer, and founder of TheProsperityProject.com, an online learning portal dedicated to helping individuals achieve greater freedom and financial independence through continuous self-improvement and entrepreneurial action. Chris lives in Wisconsin with his wife Joy, and has one son and three grandchildren.