By Steve Gillman
Excerpt from Secrets of Lucky People
There are two ways to improve the good luck / bad luck ratio in your life. One is to take steps to do those things that lead to more good luck. The other is to stop doing the things that cause bad luck. This lesson is about the latter. It is an examination of the actions, habits and thinking of unlucky people, so that you can learn what to avoid.
The last chapter covered a couple of the worst bad habits that unlucky people have. Those are blaming and making excuses. Here are some more to watch out for.
1. Unlucky People Wait For Good Luck
Those who are unlucky commonly say things like, "I'm waiting for my ship to come in." They are very passive in their approach to life. Meanwhile, while they wait, others are out there building ships. Work invites opportunities - waiting doesn't.
Why not search out opportunities and create your opportunities? Training yourself to see them can be as simple as looking for them every day. To train yourself to take advantage of them, always taking some small step the moment you recognize an opportunity.
2. Unlucky People Act On Destructive Impulses
The other day, a man mentioned to me that he had bought a $200 hat. A moment later he said he was hoping they would approve his welfare application. Is this a problem with impulse control, or what? Is it perhaps possible that his bad habits lead to a place on the welfare rolls?
Wait a day before taking any action that commits time, energy or money towards something which isn't a major goal in your life. Do this until it becomes a habit. Probably you'll change your mind by the next day. On the other hand, if you have the impulse to eat something healthy, get some exercise, or pursue an opportunity to better your life - those are the impulses to act on.
3. Unlucky People Concentrate On The Unpredictability Of Life
Random events happen, but unlucky people place too much importance on this. They see lottery winners and take that to mean they should wait for their "lucky break" to come. They see random misfortunes befall themselves and others, and take that to mean that outside factors are to blame for their situation. What they don't see clearly, is the predictability within the chaos, and their own role in creating good and bad luck.
Think of a casino. Inside, people are randomly winning and losing money. You can't say who will win or lose on a given day. That is unpredictability. On the other hand, the casino will almost always be a winner, because the rules put the odds in their favor. They can have their ups and downs, but at the end of the year they will have taken in more than they paid out. That's predictability.
There is always some way to improve the odds, some way to introduce more predictability into a situation. Lucky people are putting the odds in their favor. That's what this book is about.
4. Unlucky People Don't Learn From Mistakes
I have a friend who had $30,000 of credit card debt. The payments on this debt alone amounted to almost $1,000 per month. Then there were his other debts, for cars, snowmobiles, and other toys. He only avoided bankruptcy by tapping into the equity in his home and getting the credit card companies to accept as little as 50% of the balances as payment in full.
What did he do then? Well, with the pressure off, it soon felt comfortable to get a new credit card, and to buy a new car. Within a year or two he had a couple credit cards. Soon he was deep in debt all over again.
Some people just don't learn from their mistakes. They are typically described by themselves and others as unlucky.
Oh, there are always "reasons" why doing the same things didn't work the second or third time around. But the bottom line is that if you do the same things over and over, you will likely get the same results. "Reasons" at this point are excuses, and you can make excuses or you can make your own luck, but you can't do both.
Learn from your mistakes. In fact, always assume that you have some role in the disasters or irritations that befall you, and look for what it is. Identify what you are doing that either causes your bad situations or makes them worse. Then change your approach accordingly.
Even better, learn from other's mistakes and you can avoid making many of your own. See how others create bad luck and don't do those things. That is what this lesson is about.
5. Unlucky People Only Think Short-Term
A young man I know paid $750 per month in rent when a nicer place was available for $600. Why would he do that? Because the expensive apartment required no deposit. The cheaper place required a $400 deposit, so he would have had to save $1,000 total to move in. Now he pays $1,800 more for rent each year - and probably complains about his bad luck and shortage of cash.
Plan a little further into the future. How would things be now if you had done the right things in the past? Do them now, and the future can be that bright. Consider the long-term consequences of your actions, and write them down whenever you make an important decision. By the way, if this young man had borrowed the extra $250 he needed and paid 100% annual interest, he would still be much further ahead.
6. Unlucky People Are Too Critical
You probably know a person who is an expert in why things won't work. These people can point out the flaws in every plan. They are mostly right too, which makes them all the more dangerous to themselves and others. Their "insight" is a poison that kills dreams.
Lucky Person: "If I do this right, there is a 99% chance of success."
Unlucky Person: "So you're saying you could fail?"
It is good to think critically, to see the truth, and so reduce risk. The problem comes when a person sees only the risk and the flaws. For example, this kind of thinking only sees the fact that 80% of restaurants fail, but ignores the other 20%. If you want to move forward, see the weaknesses in your plan, but to each one add, "And this is what I can do about it..."
Not Everyone Can Be Lucky
The above is just a sampling of the worst things that unlucky people commonly do. Most of us have a little bit of some of these traits and habits. Fortunately they can all be changed in time, but are you willing to do the work necessary? If not, you fall into one of the two categories of people that researcher Richard Wiseman found could not improve their luck: those not willing to make the effort to change.
What can I say, except that I don't know of anyone who has suffered greatly from forcing themselves to get up and do something. Try something easy first. If low energy is part of the problem, start learning a few techniques for boosting it, like deep breathing and singing. Not much in this book can help improve your luck if you don't apply it.
Wiseman also found a second category of people who couldn't improve their luck: those for whom bad luck is an important part of their identity. It may seem hard to believe, but some people like being unlucky. They say things like, "If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all." They go out of their way to demonstrate how unlucky they are. They are even proud of their bad luck.
Unless they radically change their view of themselves, these individuals cannot become lucky, according to Wiseman. If you identify at all with bad luck, and feel a bit like, "If I didn't have bad luck, I don't quite know who I would be," you need to do some serious work in this area. Believe me, you'll like being lucky even more.
I don't entirely agree with Wiseman's observation, however. Experience tells me that even a person who is proud of her bad luck can become luckier - at least a little bit. This is because some of the techniques in this book work even if you just play around with them.
If you simply spend more time with people, for example, you have a better chance of learning something useful. If you start working in an area that interests you, you are more likely to succeed. Finally, if enough good things happen, you can't help but notice and that will weaken your identification with bad luck.
This articles is an excerpt from Secrets of Lucky People by Steve Gillman. Learn how to create your own luck with dozens of simple exercises which will make you the luckiest person you know.
Steve Gillman is also the author of A Book of Secrets. Read Minds, Save Money, Boost Brainpower, Get Lucky, Find Treasure, Subliminally Persuade People, Buy Real Estate With No Money Down - And More!
Edited by: Lawyer Asad