Many people are of the opinion that “everything happens for a reason,” that “there are no coincidences,” and that “we make our own luck.” I’m not one of those people. Although I believe a positive outlook attracts positive outcomes, I am of the opinion that random things happen because there are billions of people on this planet traveling different paths at different speeds with conflicting intentions, attitudes and aptitude. We can either see obstacles that derail our journey, or we can find opportunities for growth and alternate routes.

Think of a time in your life when you were on a path heading in a specific direction and something happened to interrupt your plan and you “let it go” and created a new strategy. Now think of a time when you made the opposite decision and aggressively fought to achieve/obtain your intended goal/ambition. There is no right or wrong course of action as both offer possibilities and limitations. What is wrong is to regret the choice we made as we did the best we could with the information (and emotions) available to us in that moment. Hindsight is 20/20 and we don’t know what we don’t know.

What one can regret is not creating or seizing opportunity when it shows up. Often new possibilities are missed because we are so busy following our map and focusing on our destination that we forget the values that motivated the journey. We push ourselves to succeed at work so that we can have more time and money to do the things we want, but we often spend our free evenings and weekends doing or thinking about work. We say we want to travel so that we can see different sights, yet we often neglect to look out the window when the plane takes off or the train leaves the station, let alone to look around our own neighborhood and appreciate the view.

Often obstacles in our path ultimately work to our advantage after we, like our GPS, recalculate. Yet many opportunities can be created by proactively traveling outside our comfort zone and taking the leap to pursue a new path or be open to a new perspective. A healthy attitude and good skills will help you maintain a steady pace, but sometimes it is the risks that you take when you explore new territory that can transform your journey into an adventure.

Whether opportunities arrive out of unexpected circumstances or conscious choice they are what we make of them. On this journey of life, it is up to you to hop into the driver’s seat and remember that there is only a small mirror to see behind you and a huge windshield to look ahead.

Enjoy the adventure,

Stacey Zackin, WORK_SPACE Manager (PhD, MSW, PCC)