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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

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Last Updated on March 31, 2020

Procrastination Is a Matter of Emotion, Here’s How to Stop It

Procrastination Is a Matter of Emotion, Here’s How to Stop It

Procrastination is in a human’s biological makeup. Thanks to our limbic system, the neurological powerhouse that controls our emotions and memory, we are inclined to feel before we think. To avoid experiencing negative feelings, we keep away from tasks that may overwhelm or inconvenience us.

Because we are inclined to seek and enjoy pleasure first, we tend to give in to things that make us happy instantly. It is so instant that we don’t see a point in neglecting ourselves. But it blinds us from viewing the consequences due to procrastination — more than 3 hours go missing every single day, and about 55 days — almost 2 months are lost every year.

It All Comes down to Our Emotions

The essential way to overcome procrastination is by regulating these emotions. When obligations are dreadful, they drag our feet to complete them. Most people tend to confuse work with emotional suffering because the task at hand may appear to be complicated or difficult; which can cause anxiety or despair.

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The more complicated or challenging the work may be, the more challenge-averse we become. All of these negative feelings and reservations add up, making people avoid the tasks altogether to keep from experiencing suffering or negativity.

Adjust the Task and Your Mood Will Change

Difficult or complicated tasks tend to easily overwhelm people, causing them to lose interest in the project and faith in themselves. The key is to make these tasks more manageable.

How do you do this? By breaking them up into smaller, digestible elements that will eventually add up to complete the big picture. This way, a lot of the strain is lifted, and you can find a little more enjoyment in your work.

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Before breaking down the tasks, as a whole they appear to be time consuming and challenging.  Small, manageable parts you can take action on immediately.  The smaller the tasks, the easier you will find them to manage.  So it’s good to break down your tasks into elements that will only take you 45 minutes or less to complete.

Keep the big picture in mind, but keep your workload light and only focus on one small task at a time. When you commit your attention to one element at a time, you are gradually making your way towards the larger goal.

Since we are inclined to seek out things that bring us pleasure, small rewards can go a long way to help to satisfy our need for pleasure and positivity.  Rewards give you small goals to work towards, which will help to keep you motivated. Even if you aren’t able to physically reward yourself, still celebrate the progress you’ve made along the way.

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Celebrate the completion of each small step to encourage morale. Keep up momentum throughout the entire project, and tiny celebrations will help you to do just that. Expecting to see results of the task at hand immediately is unrealistic. Accomplishments are measured by the differences you have made along the way, not the end result.

Imagine holding an event at work.  You must find a venue, caterer, and entertainment.  You also need to come up with a theme, and decorate the venue and table settings.  This is a huge project.  Break it down into smaller parts.  For example, maybe focus on deciding on a theme first.  When you’ve completed that, give yourself a small break as a reward before moving on to the next part.  One thing at a time and reward yourself to stay motivated.  Then the big project will not overwhelm you.

What if no matter how small the task is, it’s still dreadful?  No job is perfect. You will always at some point find yourself faced with tedious and uninteresting tasks that you must complete. Sometimes you just need to suck it up and push through.  To stay motivated, plan to complete positive tasks along with the negative ones.  This will regulate your emotions, and ensure that you don’t only do the things that you “feel like” doing.  Always remember to keep your eye on the big picture, which will give meaning to all of your tasks (even the tedious ones).

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When you alter your attitude towards your obligations, it will make the tasks seem less tedious.  It takes a lot of practice and reinforcement, but eventually it will change your work ethic.  Refer to these tips to help you beat procrastination every time!

Learn more tips about how to stop procrastinating: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

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