Enliven Your Optimism to Increase Your Luck in the New Year

Picture of Allison Vanaski, CFP®

Allison Vanaski, CFP®

Learn How Your Mindset is Directly Related to Your Success

“Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have it you may be smart enough to see it is what you would have wanted had you known.”
-Garrison Keillor

Would you like to change your luck in the New Year? The good news is, it’s possible.

People who recognize opportunity and seize it create their own luck. Where others see problems, they see possibilities. When things don’t work out the way they plan, it is easy for them to move past the disappointment and start looking for the next opportunity. These people are happier and enjoy consistently good luck. They think of themselves as fortunate.

The following is designed to help you enliven your own optimism and increase your luck as we approach a new year full of possibilities.

Creating Your Own Luck

Richard Wiseman, a psychologist from the University of Hertfordshire, England and author of The Luck Factor, spent a decade researching people’s perceptions of their luck. He found that those who call themselves lucky are more likely to have a fortuitous encounter because they meet lots of new people and keep in touch with a large group of friends and acquaintances. They are also less likely to experience negative emotional states such as anxiety, anger, guilt and depression.

Writing in the Skeptical Inquirer in 2003, Wiseman talked about his experience relating to luck, working with volunteers who considered themselves either exceptionally lucky or unlucky.

“Over the years I have interviewed these volunteers, asked them to complete diaries, personality questionnaires, and intelligence tests, and invited them to my laboratory to participate in experiments. The findings have revealed that luck is not a magical ability or the result of random chance. Nor are people born lucky or unlucky. Instead, although lucky and unlucky people have almost no insight into the real causes of their good and bad luck, their thoughts and behavior are responsible for much of their fortune.”

Clearly, mindset plays an important role in real or perceived success.

SEE ALSO: Money and Emotions: Knowing Yourself and Your Behaviors

The Role of Optimism

Writing in Inc. Magazine, Peter Economy noted, “Optimistic people naturally create lots of good luck.”

Studies have proven that people who feel they’re lucky actually work harder at creating their good luck. On the flip side, people who feel unlucky tend to believe that bad luck just happens to them and that it isn’t something they have any power to change. Lucky people view the world with optimism. When bad things happen, it is their optimism that makes them resilient. They are able to pick themselves up and face another day — creating more good luck.”

Want to improve your luck? It could be as easy as adjusting your attitude. Studies show that people who consider themselves lucky actually tend to be lucky — it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. That’s because positive thinkers are always keeping their eyes peeled for fortuitous situations, and they’re more likely to pounce on them when they arise.

Avoiding ‘Learned Helplessness’

If you believe that success in life is outside your control and depends mainly on random chance, you may be inclined to make less effort in pursuing your career or financial ambitions. You may feel, “What’s the point? You can make all the effort in the world, but if you’re not lucky it won’t make a difference.”

This way of thinking is a form of what is known in psychology circles as “learned helplessness.” If you believe that things are outside your control and that your actions will not make a difference, you make less effort. If you make less effort, you will be less successful, and this will just confirm your belief that you can’t change anything.

Striving for Improvement Over Luck

Bill Gates attributed his achievements to constant striving for improvement more than to luck:

“When I was young, I got to use computers. That was very lucky. Then I got to work at a computer company where, because I was pretty good, these senior people looked at my code and told me, ‘No, that’s not as good as it can be,’ and so I got better. And then I had another experience where a great developer looked at my code and told me how to do it better.”

Many other young people had the similar luck of using computers in those early years, but they didn’t come close to achieving Bill’s level of success. Obviously, luck was not the differentiator. The difference was that Bill got good at it, kept improving, and took it further than the others, regardless of the luck he had. Success is not determined by this thing called luck, over which we have no control. Success is the result of doing things that we do have control over.

SEE ALSO: Don’t Pick the ‘Right’ Stock, Pick the ‘Right’ (Or Left) Brain

Robert Woodward’s Story

In 1970, a young lieutenant named Robert Woodward was an assistant to a navy admiral. He was given instructions to hand-deliver a package to the chief of naval operations, but when he arrived, the officer wasn’t there so Robert had to wait. After a while, he was joined by an older man who had the persona of someone important and was not interested in making chit-chat with an inexperienced naval officer.

Robert hesitated to attempt conversation with the man, but he overcome his reticence, made eye contact, and started a conversation. He could tell the older man did not want to engage in a lengthy discussion and just as he was about to give up, the man asked Robert where he attended college. It turned out they both attended George Washington University in Washington D.C., although some thirty years apart. The conversation immediately grew livelier and the two chatted for some time until the chief of staff returned. The older gentleman turned out to be Mark Felt, a senior executive with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He told young Robert to stay in touch and that if he could help him further his career, he would be happy to do so.

After his naval tour ended, Robert landed a job at the Washington Post working as a reporter. When he and Carl Bernstein were later assigned to cover the Watergate scandal, it was Mark Felt, the anonymous “Deep Throat,” who became his clandestine source of information that ultimately brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon.

Robert Woodward had no idea that he would be working at the Washington Post as an investigative reporter once he left the navy. But by extending his hand and making an effort to break the ice with a stranger, he changed the course of his life, American history, and the lives of millions of people! He created his own luck.

Scarcity Principle and Financial Luck

In his book Awareness, Anthony DeMello writes, “Our feelings of scarcity can inhibit the power of luck we are attempting to harness. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of concentrating on what we don’t have, rather than appreciating all that we do have and being grateful. It’s impossible to be grateful and unhappy at the same time.”

When it comes to your money, scarcity is different. Thinking with a mentality of scarcity can be harmful to your financial health. Fear of not having enough money, even if your finances are stable, may rob you of the motivation to meet new people, leap into a new career, and create new experiences where luck has a chance to germinate. In this way, operating from a scarcity mindset can negatively impact your financial health, as well as your perceived or actual luck in money matters.

How to Create More Luck in the New Year

If you haven’t felt particularly lucky in your life, career, or finances, enlivening your optimism might just be the key. Consider whether you’ve been struggling from learned helplessness or failing to reflect on all the things you can be grateful for. Consciously work to overcome these mental blocks with a positive outlook focused on improvement over luck, and you’re very likely to see your ‘luck’ begin to change.

As we head further into 2022, it is apparent that we are experiencing some heightened market volatility, which may make it difficult to find optimism and “luck” in the markets. We knew a market correction was going to happen but did not know when it was going to occur. As a reminder, market corrections are normal and expected, especially after the significant gains we have experienced in the stock market over the last few years. We are constantly monitoring our client’s portfolios for trading opportunities, but please do not hesitate to reach out to our office with any questions or concerns.

If you’d like more personal guidance on your money mindset and your financial plan, please reach out to us today. At Arcadia, our team of professionals is dedicated to helping you and your family gain financial peace of mind. We look forward to hearing from you!

This content is based on an excerpt from my book, The Millionaire Within, available on Amazon. Get your copy now!

Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. Information provided in this blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances as needed. No advice may be rendered by Arcadia unless a client service agreement is in place. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.

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