Recently I heard a story about a teenage girl in high school who had been awarded an internship with a surgical department at a prestigious hospital. She was quoted as saying that the internship was “the opportunity of a lifetime.” Perhaps it is. But her story got me thinking: We tend to view opportunity as this random thing that strikes like lightning without warning upon whomever it will. But does it really? Is it really as arbitrary as we think? Or does opportunity “strike” some individuals more often than others? And if so, is it really as indiscriminate as we think?
Turns out that the girl who was awarded the internship had a near-perfect grade point average and she won the internship based on her academic achievements. Not surprising then that this opportunity would come her way. In fact, given her grades, it’s likely other opportunities will strike – kind of like a metal rod attracts lightning bolts. Translation:
The more we plan for opportunity, the more opportunities we get.
But how do we plan for something that’s such a chance proposition?
First thing: Identify the Dream. First we have to know what the heck it is we want. What vision do we have? Is it a specific job or career path? Or is it a unique life experience: a trip to some faraway continent, an adventure like climbing that huge mountain or driving a racecar 100 mph (on a track)? Maybe it’s a chance to touch other lives: to go on a missions’ trip or to work with people who need assistance or money or education or the encouragement to succeed themselves. Maybe it’s to free up our creativity and have an art show or to design our own clothing line or to publish a book or even to patent and market that invention that’s been brewing in our heads all these years.
Simply put – we have to know what we want.
Second thing: Research the Dream. The next thing we have to do is to answer some questions: How possible or impossible is our dream? Is it easy to achieve or difficult? Does it take talent or education or an internship or money or investors or physical labor or a partnership? Do we have these things? If not, can we get them? What’s the time commitment, both daily and long-term? In terms of business, is there a demand for our product, service, or idea?
So – let’s say I want to become an astronaut. (I don’t but let’s pretend.) I have to answer those questions: Is it possible to become an astronaut? If I’m 20, possible. If I’m 40, not so much. Will it be difficult to do or easy to do? It’ll be difficult – no matter how old I am. (However, “hard” does not mean “impossible”.) What will it take? It’s safe to say that becoming an astronaut would take some level of ability – mental, physical, emotional – and certainly it would take education. I’d probably have to join the Air Force and become a pilot or get a PhD in astrophysics or something. Internship? No doubt. Money? Either my own or someone else’s. Do I have these things? No. If not, can I get them? With a lot (a lot) of work. What’s the time commitment, both daily and long-term? Probably 18 hours a day for years. Is there a current demand for astronauts? More importantly, will there be a demand for them after the 20 years it takes me to become one? Hopefully. However, if NASA’s not hiring, then maybe I can find a job piloting very rich people to Mars.
If too many of the answers to these questions are “no,” then perhaps we should look into Dream B. For example, I’d have to end the astronaut dream at the “Is it possible?” stage. (Let’s just say I’m not 20 and leave it at that.) However, if the answers to our questions are doable – even with hard work – then the only other question is: How badly do we want it?
Third thing: Plan the dream. The answers to the above questions will be what we’d use to devise our plan to make the dream happen. In terms of getting into college or grad school or getting that prime job afterward, grades will count so we can’t wait till the last minute to make them; “making the grade” has to be part of our long-term plan – as it obviously was for the young lady who won the surgical internship.
And let’s face it – most dreams cost money. Whether it’s for our education and associated costs, business start-up, costs to market the business or book or art show or product – it’s all going to cost money – and probably lots of it. The two most important questions are: How much and where do I get it? Now, if mom and dad’s bank account is an option, problem solved. However, for most of us, it’s not. So – can we get scholarships or loans or grants or investors or a job? The fact is, there’s almost always a way to get money; it’s just a matter of how long it takes to save up from the job or to make the scholarship grades or to write the business plan to get the loan and/or investors.
Fourth thing: Work the Dream. Once we have the money, we can proceed with the rest of the plan. Will it take time? Of course. It might even take a long time. But as they say, time’s going to pass anyway. Even if it takes years, if we don’t pursue our dreams, will we want to have to look back and wish we’d invested the time once it’s passed? My guess is no.
Opportunity is often something people sit back and wait for. Then, if and when it strikes, they take it. But let’s face it – that might never happen. A far wiser strategy would be to make opportunity happen. Identify the dream, research the dream, plan the dream, and then work the dream.
Do this and you’ll be amazed at how often opportunity just happens to knock at your door.