Make Your Own Luck

Is good luck as random as it seems, or can you make luck come to you? Here's how to hack your life to make your dreams come true.

It happens all the time: You see someone crushin’ it at school, at sports, or even on Instagram and think, “Ugh, they’re so lucky.” You hear the newest Marvel movie star gush to the camera: “I can’t believe I landed this role—I guess I just got lucky.” You miss your bus, you spill your smoothie, and you think, “Yup, this is my life—I have the worst luck!”

Why does it seem like some people are just born #blessed? And how can you convince good fortune to find you?

It turns out being lucky is more choice than chance. “Luck is not a random occurrence,” says Richard Wiseman, a professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire and author of The Luck Factor. “People create their own luck.”

In other words, the right mindset and actions can create huge opportunities in your daily life, whether that means snagging your dream internship or getting published in your school’s lit mag.

Ready to change your fortune? We polled some experts to show you how to make your own luck.

LUCK LESSON #1

How It Works:

Y’know when you start obsessing over a new type of shoe, and suddenly, you start seeing people wearing that exact style shoe everywhere? That’s how luck works: The more you think about it, the more it shows up. So start envisioning exactly what you want. Thinking about your goal sets your brain up for success, says Alexis Rockley, certified specialist in positive psychology.

“Visualization is your brain’s dress rehearsal for something you’re about to accomplish in the real world, which creates motivation and skill,” Rockley says. For example, before he was famous, actor Jim Carrey wrote himself a $10 million check dated three years in the future. He kept that check in his wallet and carried it everywhere until exactly three years later—when he earned $10 million from his blockbuster hit Dumb & Dumber.

How to Work It:

Type your idea of success into Google Images—if you want to be an actor, maybe you’re looking for someone winning an Oscar— and make that image the lock screen on your phone, or paste it where you’ll see it every day. “The daily repetition activates something in your brain called ‘unconscious monitoring,’” says Rockley, “which helps you start making tiny adjustments to your behavior to get you closer to that goal.”

LUCK LESSON #2

How It Works:

Luck happens to people who take risks, and that can mean sticking your hat in the ring when you think you aren’t qualified. The worst that can happen is simply hearing “No,” but the best? It could be that big lucky break you’ve been waiting for. “When you take small risks, you open yourself to new possibilities,” says Tina Seelig, a professor in Stanford’s department of Management Science and Engineering and author of What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20.

“If you send a note to someone you admire, they might write back, leading to possibilities you never imagined,” she says. Want proof? Media mega-mogul Oprah got her first news gig while being interviewed on a radio show as a beauty contestant. She boldly announced that she really wanted to be a broadcast journalist, not a beauty queen. Weeks later, the show offered Oprah her first broadcasting job.

How to Work It:

Challenge yourself to “apply” for your dream job. Do a search of cool jobs at your ideal company, for example on Nike’s career page. Ask the hiring contact for an informational interview. You never know where your big moment of bravery might lead you.

LUCK LESSON #3

How It Works:

Lucky things happen to people who shake up their scene. Surrounding yourself with new people and ideas will increase the likelihood of luck finding you. Professor Wiseman compares this idea to working at an apple orchard: “If you always pick apples from the same area, you’ll run out of apples; if you move to a new part of the orchard, suddenly you’re surrounded by hundreds more to pick,” says Wiseman.

“Lucky people expose themselves to new experiences and new people who can connect them with unexpected opportunities,” he says. For example, stand-up superstar Ali Wong made waves as a comedian in San Francisco, but after she learned that comedians were booking more shows in New York City, she moved east. Once there, Wong performed up to nine stand-up shows a night. Her packed schedule got her noticed by talent agents, who signed her for spots on NBC, VH1, and MTV.

How to Work It:

Look up free events related to your interests— a book signing by a cool author or a town hall with your city councilwoman. Bring a buddy, and chat with at least three new people. “Luck is about creating your own opportunities,” says Wiseman.

Back to top
Skills Sheets (5)
Skills Sheets (5)
Skills Sheets (5)
Skills Sheets (5)
Skills Sheets (5)