I’m not going to lie. I am totally in love with my life. I’m in a wonderful and loving relationship with the greatest guy I’ve ever met, I have a job I can do whenever and wherever there’s an internet connection, I have several wonderful and nourishing friendships, I spend much of my days having life-affirming conversations, meditating, reading about personal growth, writing, walking on the beach, cuddling cute dogs and I live in a beautiful, beach front, white cottage, smack bang in the middle of a national park on the Caribbean Coast of Mexico. It will, therefore, come as no surprise to you that I get called lucky on a fairly regular basis.

Image by Flickr user Umberto Salvagnin used under a Creative Commons license.

Image by Flickr user Umberto Salvagnin used under a Creative Commons license.

So why am I telling you this? Well it’s certainly not to brag but merely to make a point before I tell you how things used to be. As little as five years ago I loathed my 9-5 job, I had a tedious and exhausting daily 4-hour commute, my love life was a train wreck, I smoked heavily, I had issues with alcohol, my self-esteem was at zero and I felt unfulfilled and miserable. Quite a different story wouldn’t you say? So what changed? My luck? Not quite.

People always call it luck when you’ve acted more sensibly than they have.” ~ Anne Tyler

What is luck?

luck [noun]: success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions. 

According to my research (ahem Google search), luck is not something we can control or influence. It’s something that happens by chance. So if I’m as lucky as people seem to think I am, then it surely follows that my current situation happened by chance and has nothing to do with anything I did or didn’t do. Do you see where I’m going with this? Whilst I don’t have a problem with people having this perception of my life, I do feel concerned when I see people not making the most of their lives because of mis-guided perceptions about luck. 

Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, ‘you make your own luck’ but have never really known what that meant in practical terms. Well lucky for you (do you see what I did there?) that’s what this post is all about. If you want to be more lucky in life then my suggestion is to do all of these things without exception.

I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

1. Ditch the excuses

I used to have every excuse in the book. I blamed everything and everyone for the state of my life. I blamed my will power (or lack of it), my childhood, the men I dated, other people and their alleged bad treatment of me and as I did, I gave all of my personal power to each and every one of those excuses. It was hitting rock bottom that made me take a long hard look at my life and realise that it was up to me and me alone to turn things around. When we learn to take responsibility for what happens in our lives, rather than feel weighed down by that responsibility, we find ourselves free to move mountains.

The most common excuse I hear from people about why they aren’t living their dream lives is money. I’m sure many people might read the opening paragraph of this post and think ‘that’s okay if you can afford it’, but what would you say if I told you I’m living the life I’m living without paying a penny for rent or utilities, earning a quarter of what I used to earn in the UK and spending as little as $100 a month on groceries?

How? It’s simple, we’re house sitters. We signed up to a site that matches empty homes around the world with house sitters for varying periods of time. But we didn’t just join the site and hope that someone would get in touch. We worked hard to create a profile that would help us stand out from the crowd, spent a lot of time and energy filming and editing a movie to include in our profile and spent countless hours writing to people asking for positive reviews.

You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be.” ~ Napoleon Hill 

2. Get clear on what you want

It’s not enough to wish your life to be different and then hoping for your luck to change. If you want a better life then you need to get clear about what that better life would look like.

If I narrow down what I really, really wanted just before I decided to go after it with everything I had, it boiled down to freedom, fulfilment and love. But I didn’t just decide on these three fairly abstract concepts and leave it there. I defined in great detail through planning, visioning, day-dreaming and plotting what form each of these things would take.

For freedom, I decided that I no longer wanted to work 9-5 for somebody else, I decided I wanted to earn money doing something that truly helps others while at the same time giving me the freedom to travel around the world and enjoy my life. Then I did the same with love. I wrote a list of all of the features and characteristics I wanted in my future partner specifying the things I simply wasn’t willing to negotiate on and then I made a promise to myself never to settle for less, it took nearly 5 years of being single to find him but it was worth the wait. 

I also looked in great detail at what fulfilment would mean to me and I researched numerous potential careers, from teacher to social worker to working with young people, taking my research as far as volunteering weekly at a local youth group for well over a year before I finally decided on becoming a Life Coach.

Image by Flickr User Artotem used under a Creative Commons license.

Image by Flickr User Artotem used under a Creative Commons license.

3. Change your attitude 

When I decided to quit my job to go traveling, so many people said to me things like…I wish I could do that but I can’t because…I’m too old, I’m too young, I’m too poor, I have cats, I have kids, I have a mortgage etc, etc. I’ve been living out of the UK for nearly three years now and I’ve met people who have made the leap to leave their comfort zone and explore the world in each and every one of these situations. People who have moved to the other side of the world with their families, their pets, in spite of their debts, as young as 18 and as old as 90.

If we tell ourselves we can’t then we can’t. But if we believe that we can, then that changes everything. Belief and determination can overcome the direst of circumstances but don’t just take my word for it. 

Let’s take Amy Purdy, an avid snowboarder who lost both of her legs to meningitis at the age of 19 and battled and overcame depression to rise above her circumstances and become a professional snowboarder.

Or Nick Vujicic, who was born without limbs and has grown up to be a motivational speaker, published author, husband and father.

Our circumstances or luck (bad or good) don’t define us or determine what is possible in life, our attitude, beliefs and behaviours do.

4. Commit to your dream and take action

Once I decided that I was tired of living a life I wasn’t happy in. I did everything I could to change it. That meant getting a therapist, reading personal growth books. A lot of books. Attending 12-step meetings, reaching out to people online who were already living my dream, making new, like-minded friends, saving every spare penny I made (which meant no new clothes, holidays or luxury items for two years), quitting my job and selling everything I owned. It also meant spending over $16,000 on my personal and professional development, working with four different coaches to uncover my blind spots and undertaking various development courses related to my dream of being a Life Coach.

I didn’t just talk about my dream, I made huge, scary and sacrificing steps to get where I wanted to be. I’m not saying it’s easy to do this but as someone who went from being an unhappy dreamer to becoming a very happy doer, I can hand on heart tell you that anything is possible when you commit to making your dream a reality.

Ask yourself this: What would it take for your dream to become a reality? 

5. Never ever give up

When you decide that you are going to give everything you’ve got to creating the life you really want, you’ll be imbued with excitement, passion and motivation but trust me that will wane. Not because you’ll do anything wrong per se but because it’s the natural order of things. We can’t be 100 per cent committed, courageous and productive all of the time. There will be times when you wonder if what you are trying to do is possible but the theory goes that success comes soon after the majority of people would give up. It’s the few that stay the course that have the kind of success that many of us only dream of.

Before success comes in any man’s life, he is sure to meet with much temporary defeat, and, perhaps, some failure. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and most logical thing to do is to quit. That is exactly what the majority of men do. More than five hundred of the most successful men this country has ever known told the author their greatest success came just one step beyond the point at which defeat had overtaken them.” Napoleon Hill

Let’s take Diana Nyad for example, who had a dream to be first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the aid of a shark cage. At the peak of her swimming career, she failed to achieve this dream and yet at the age of 60 decided she was going to try again. When asked her motivation, she replied, “Because I’d like to prove to the other 60-year-olds that it is never too late to start your dreams.” Diana made a total of 4 attempts before completing the feat in 2013 at the grand old age of 64. Who says you’re too old to achieve your dreams? After 53 hours in the water and a life-time of attempting to fulfil a dream, Diana’s key message as she spoke to an excited crowd on the banks of Key West, Florida was “Never ever give up!”

I’m not knocking luck

Don’t get me wrong, although I believe in the main that we make our own luck, I also feel immeasurable amounts of gratitude for the luck I’ve had to be born in the West, where the standards of living, health and education are such that I can make choices and decisions that many, many people around the world cannot. I feel lucky to be me, to have my attitude in life and my personal set of circumstances that have driven me to create a life I love and I feel lucky to be alive, with good health and a whole lot of love in my life.

We are allowed to feel lucky and more importantly grateful, but if you’re using bad luck as an excuse to stay stuck, then it’s definitely time for a rethink.