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Published on October 7, 2019

How to Seize Your Opportunities and Take on Challenges

How to Seize Your Opportunities and Take on Challenges

I once heard Richard Branson say, “Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.” As soon as I heard that, I remember thinking “wow, that’s so true.” And that wisdom doesn’t just apply to business opportunities. It applies to all opportunities.

Regardless of whether you’re looking to getting ahead in your career, in your business, in academics or in your personal life, you will always be presented with fresh opportunities.

But here’s the thing: no matter what you’re after, it’s likely you’ll be presented with a number of challenges along the way. Here are some ways to prepare yourself to seize the opportunity of a lifetime from the moment you recognize it.

1. Develop a Clear Vision of What You Want

Imagine if you could have anything your heart desires. Imagine if you could seize the opportunity of a lifetime the moment it presents itself…

Literally, take a moment right now and imagine it.

Because if you do, then you’ll be putting your brain’s Reticular Activating System into function — and that can be the difference between achieving your dreams, or living a life of quiet desperation.

In his book, Getting Things Done, author David Allen talks about how this works:

“When you focus on something–the vacation you’re going to take, the meeting you’re about to go into, the project you want to launch–that focus instantly creates ideas and thought patterns you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Even your physiology will respond to an image in your head as if it were reality.”

Did you catch that last line?

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Even your physiology will respond to an image in your head as if it were reality.

Let’s talk a little more about that, shall we?

Back in May 1957, Scientific American published an article describing the discovery of the “reticular formation” at the base of the brain … this is basically the gateway to your conscious awareness. In other words, it acts as a “switch” of sorts, to turn on your perceptions of ideas and data, the thing that keeps you asleep even when music is playing but wakes you up if a special little baby cries in another room.

Your brain has a search function, just like your computer does.

But your brain’s search function is even better. It’s programmed by what you focus on, what you identify with, and what you believe in. It notices things and opportunities that are your current beliefs and focus.

For example, if you’re an architect, you’re more likely to notice the square footage and design of buildings. If you work in shoe sales, you’ll probably notice the details and degree of craftsmanship of a person’s shoes when when you meet them.

Take a moment to close your eyes for ten seconds and focus on nothing but color red, and then just glance around your environment… if there’s any red at all–even if it’s a little bit–you’ll notice it!

That’s your reticular activating system at work. And you’ll need to keep it sharp if you want to seize any potential opportunities as they arise.

The lesson here is this: develop a clear mental picture of what you want. Keep that vision in mind and imagine it regularly. This will prime your mind to stay on the look-out for opportunities that can help you bring that vision to reality.

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2. Set Goals

Once you’ve developed a mental picture of what you want or what an ideal opportunity may look like, it’s time to commit that vision to paper.

In other words, it’s time to set some written goals: How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life

And once you set those goals, you’ll want to make sure you review them on a regular basis in order to remind your brain what you’re looking for.

Your brain operates in terms of goals and end results. Once you give it a clear goal to achieve, it automatically begins to look for ways to help you achieve it.

Once you have a goal, your brain looks for different opportunities to help you bring it to life. It looks for actions you can take or ideas that might help you achieve a given goal.

So grab some paper, and write down exactly what you want and why you want it.

3. Take Consistent Action

Some people will tell you that positive thinking is the key to seizing opportunities and getting whatever you want in life.

I’m here to tell you that this is absolutely NOT true.

If you get lost in the woods without a map to help guide you back to where you need to be, it doesn’t matter how positive you think you are, because unless you get yourself a map, you’re STILL going to be lost.

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And if you only focus on “thinking positive,” you’ll just be happy about being lost.

In order to get back home, you need a map. You need guidance. You’ve got to update your approach. And you absolutely need to take action.[1]

If you want to achieve your goals, get your dream job, attract the perfect partner, or seize the opportunity of a lifetime, it doesn’t matter how positive you think you are if your way of thinking is faulty.

To fix your way of thinking, you need to envision a detailed desired outcome of what you want.

Once you’ve done that, you’ve got to take deliberate action towards that desired outcome.

Unless you map out a detailed picture of what you want AND you combine that with action, you’ll veer off-path and bypass great opportunities.

So, here’s what you need to do:

Step 1: Think about an area of your life you’d like to change for the better.

Imagine what it would feel like and look like if you were able to change this area of your life. Think about the best possible outcome/scenario that could occur if everything were to go exactly the way you want it to go (it never goes perfect, but don’t worry about that right now)

Step 2: Take this vision you’ve created in your mind from Step 1, and write it down as a goal.

Be as detailed and specific as possible.

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Step 3: Break that goal down into several small steps that need to be taken in order for you to achieve it.

If you’re not sure about what steps you need to take to achieve your goal, then your first step is to start reading, researching, and gathering knowledge about what you need to do. You might need to talk to someone who’s already done what you want to do or find an inspiring podcast that can help fast-track your way to success.

The main idea is this: you need to decide on some sort of action you can right now to make progress on your goal.

Some examples: Want to start a business? Start researching how to get a business license. Want a new car? Go to the car dealership and test drive that car you want.

Do something, anything, to get the ball rolling.

Step 4: Remain consistent and keep taking action.

Once you’ve taken one small step towards your goal, you’ll need to setup another one… And another one. And another one.

Along the way, you’ll notice different ideas and opportunities that you can leverage towards achieving your goal.

Bottom Line

Follow these steps and eventually your goals won’t be in your imagination anymore, they’ll be your reality.

Now go out there and start seizing opportunities like a boss.

More About Seizing Opportunities

Featured photo credit: Juan Jose via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Dean Bokhari: Action Leads to Motivation

More by this author

Dean Bokhari

Author, Entrepreneur, Podcast & TV Host

7 Things That Cause Your Lack of Motivation (And How to Fix Them) How to Avoid Procrastination and Get Your Work Done 11 Ways to Be Productive And Happy At Once 10 Best Career Books To Help You Do Work You Love How to Seize Your Opportunities and Take on Challenges

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Do you think of yourself as a creative person? Do you play the drums or do watercolor paintings? Perhaps compose songs or direct plays? Can you even relate to any of these so called ‘creative’ experiences? Growing up, did you ever have that ‘artistic’ sibling or friend who excelled in drawing, playing instruments or literature? And you maybe wondered why you can’t even compose a birthday card greeting–or that drawing stick figures is the furthest you’ll ever get to drawing a family portrait. Many people have this common assumption that creativity is an inborn talent; only a special group of people are inherently creative, and everyone else just unfortunately does not have that special ability. You either have that creative flair or instinct, or you don’t. But, this is far from the truth! So what is creativity?

Can I Be Creative?

The fact is, that everyone has an innate creative ability. Despite what most people may think, creativity is a skill that everyone can learn and hone on. It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input. How is that so? You’ll have to start by expanding your definition of creativity. Ironically, you have to be creative and ‘think out of the box’ with the definition! Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems. So, if you encounter different challenges and problems that need solving on a regular basis, then creativity is an invaluable skill to have.Let’s say, for example, that you work in sales. Having creativity will help you to look for new ways to approach and reach out to potential customers. Or perhaps you’re a teacher. In this role you have to constantly look for new ways to deliver your message and educate your students.

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How Creativity Works

Let me break another misconception about creativity, which is that it’s only used to create completely “new” or “original” things. Again, this is far from the truth. Because nothing is ever completely new or original. Everything, including works of art, doesn’t come from nothing. Everything derives from some sort of inspiration. That means that creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.From this perspective, you can see a lot of creativity in action. In technology, Apple combines traditional computers with design and aesthetics to create new ways to use digital products. In music, a musician may be inspired by various styles of music, instruments and rhythms to create an entirely new type of song. All of these examples are about connecting different ideas, finding common ground amongst the differences, and creating a completely new idea out of them.

What Really Is Creativity?

Creativity Needs an Intention

Another misconception about the creative process is that you can just be in a general “creative” state. Real creativity isn’t about coming up with “eureka!” moments for random ideas. Instead, to be truly creative, you need to have a direction. You have to ask yourself this question: “What problem am I trying to solve?” Only by knowing the answer to this question can you start flexing your creativity muscles. Often times, the idea of creativity is associated with the ‘Right’ brain, with intuition and imagination. Hence a lot of focus is placed on the ‘Right’ brain when it comes to creativity. But, to get the most out of creativity, you need to utilize both sides of your brain–Right and Left–which means using the analytical and logical part of your brain, too. This may sound surprising to you, but creativity has a lot to do with problem solving. And, problem solving inherently involves logic and analysis. So instead of throwing out the ‘Left’ brain, full creativity needs them to work in unison. For example, when you’re looking for new ideas, your ‘Left’ brain will guide you to a place of focus, which is based on your objective behind the ideas you’re searching for. The ‘Right’ brain then guides you to gather and explore based on your current focus. And when you decide to try out these new ideas, your ‘Right’ brain will give you novel solutions outside of the ones you already know. Your ‘Left’ brain then helps you evaluate and tune the solutions to work better in practice. So, logic and creativity actually work hand in hand, and not one at the expense of the other.

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Creativity Is a Skill

At the end of the day, creativity is a skill. It’s not some innate or natural born talent that some have over others. What this means is that creativity and innovation can be practiced and improved upon systematically.A skill can be learned and practiced by applying your strongest learning styles. Want to know what your learning style is? Try this test. A skill can be measured and improved through a Feedback Loop, and can be continuously upgraded over time by regular practice. Through regular practice, your creativity goes through different stages of proficiency. This means that you can become more and more creative! If you never thought that creativity was relevant to you, or that you don’t have a knack for being creative… think again! You can use creativity in any aspect of your life. In fact you should use it, as it will allow you to to break through your usual loop, get you out of your comfort zone, and inspire you to grow and try new things. Creativity will definitely give you an edge when you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with new solutions.

Start Connecting the Dots

Excited to start honing your creativity? Here at Lifehack, we’ve got a wealth of knowledge to help you get started. We understand that creativity is a matter of connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value. So, if you want to learn how to start connecting the dots, check out these tips:

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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