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Here’s How To Have A Lucky Month, According To Science
I wasn’t inside the tent for more than three minutes when I found myself doing exactly what I swore I wouldn’t.
Something I saw online ticked me off earlier that day, but I was on my way to our local book festival, with its white tents and strung globe lights along the harbor. I exhaled and said “Okay, set it aside for now, let’s have a nice family evening with books.”
No sooner had I rolled the stroller into the first tent and started chatting with the proprietor that something tripped my memory of my frustration, and before I knew it, I was giving her an unsolicited earful. Just as I realized I needed to zip it and apologize for jumping onto my soap box, she surprised me:
“You know, that would make a great op-ed. I can give you the email address of the editor you should send it to. If you want, I can take a look at it before you send it.”
I went home surprised and grateful, but mentally listing all the reasons I didn’t have time to take her up on this offer. Yet somehow, I found myself at the keyboard. I spent two afternoons writing and editing, trying to punch the right letters while keeping the baby on my lap away from the keys. I finally sent it to her, then to the editor, and it was published.
I figured that was that. Other than the fleeting enjoyment of seeing my name in print, I’d probably just sacrificed the better part of two work days in the name of glorified venting.
But then! An email landed in my inbox.
Someone who had read my glorified venting offered an invitation to join a panel at a local event. Which led to more introductions, and “So, what do you do?” conversations. Pretty soon I had a sheaf of new acquaintances and a new client in a totally different – and totally cool – industry.
Wow. Didn’t see any of that coming.
I certainly credit this stream of good luck to the indulgence of the woman in the book tent, and the generosity of the event organizer.
But it turns out that I’d inadvertently done one thing that placed me right in luck’s path. And it’s research-backed and all.
Ready for this? Here is one sign you’re about to have a lucky month:
You have plans that will bring you into contact with new people.
Yes, really. That’s it.
A researcher named Richard Wiseman actually brought “lucky” and “unlucky” people into his lab, and found some honest-to-goodness differences between them.
Key among them: “Lucky” people go to noticeable effort to introduce new people into their lives, because this simply gives more chances for good things to happen.
He explains it like this (edited slightly for length):
“Imagine living in the center of a large apple orchard. Each day you have to venture into the orchard and collect a large basket of apples.
The first few times it won’t matter where you decide to visit. All parts of the orchard will have apples, you will find them wherever you go. But as time goes on it will become more difficult to find apples in the places that you have visited before. The more you return to the same locations, the harder it will be to find apples there.
But if you decide to always go to parts of the orchard that you have never visited before, or even randomly decide where to go, your chances of finding apples will be dramatically increased.
It is exactly the same with luck. It is easy for people to exhaust the opportunities in their life. Keep on talking to the same people in the same way. Keep taking the same route to and from work. Keep going to the same places on vacation. But new or even random experiences introduce the potential for new opportunities.”
Executive coach Don Asher noted that lucky breaks come when you “cross the boundaries of the bubble where you normally live. You miss a lot of luck if you interact only with your own friends.” He explained that clients of his have made successful business connections simply talking to their hairdressers – because people like hairdressers naturally have clients who work across industries, so it’s surprisingly likely they know someone who could help you.
Meet more people, and you have more chances of meeting the right person at the right time.
Don’t already have plans this month? Here are three simple ways to do it (that even this introvert approves of):
- Publish something on a platform whose audience will not know you. Get outside of that bubble! Not sure what to talk about? This post breaks it down, and this post offers another angle to try.
- Go to an event you’re genuinely interested in – and talk to people. This is me, an introvert, telling you to do this! A big reason I go to the local book festival every year is because every time I have at least one connection-rich conversation with a stranger. Don’t keep up on local events? Me either. A couple cool shortcuts: Google [your town/area name] + [something you’re interested in] + “festival.” If that doesn’t turn anything up, pull up your local library and university calendars and scan events open to the public. You’ll be sitting there with a bunch of people interested in some of the same things you are – and that’s a very lucky place to start talking to a stranger.
- Talk to people on the way to doing whatever you’re already doing. Come early or stay late at a class you’re taking instead of skittering in and out. Get in the habit of actually answering questions like “So what’s new?” with something other than “Oh not much.” Tell them what you’re working on! Post on Facebook “Hey, does anyone know anyone who does ____? I’m working on a project and would like to talk with them.”
People can’t know what you’re trying to do unless you tell them – and you never know who knows who.
You don’t have to do all these things, just pick one. I bet you’ll have a luckier month. Do it every month this year, and this might be your best year yet.