03/03/2017 02:47 EST | Updated 03/06/2017 08:27 EST

Luck Has Nothing To Do With My Big Breaks. I Made Them Happen

You know what really annoys me? When people say "you're so lucky."

Luck has nothing to do with the way I choose to live my life.

For example, I enjoy travelling, so I make sure to factor that into my life as often as I can. I make a lot of sacrifices behind the scenes to make it happen.

No one is funding these trips, nor did I fall into a pile of money. I just choose not to spend money on things but rather on experiences.

young woman tourist

(Photo: Eva-Katalin via Getty Images)

(I'm not alone. A study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology shows people who made expensive purchases on products rather than experiential investments often devalued a new item's worth directly after buying it, according to the Huffington Post.)

No one is doing the research of where I'm going to live (when I do month long trips), no one tells me which areas to avoid because they're unsafe, what the customs are and the social etiquette is, or the best way to get from point a to b, and no one is scouring websites on my behalf to find the best travel deals.

Luck didn't allow me to live in a tropical rainforest in Bali, where I felt like I walked through a postcard every day on my way to the coworking space I worked out of, which resembled a bamboo treehouse overlooking pristine rice fields.

Luck didn't allow me to live comfortably in Shanghai, learn Mandarin and travel to 12 countries in two and half years. I made that happen.

Whenever I've gotten a break in life, it's because I put myself out there and seized an opportunity.

On social media, we tend to show how extraordinary our lives are. I don't advertise the fact that I got kicked out of my first job in Shanghai for being a brown girl, or how stressful it was travelling for 31 hours to arrive in Ubud Bali in the dead of night, only to sleep in a guesthouse lined with biggest creepy crawlers I didn't know existed in life. On top of that, I was hangry as f*ck, with no food options because it was past midnight. Looking back, it's all part of the experience, plus it made me become even more fearless. The point is I didn't get unlucky in this case, these were things that were out of my control.

I do believe that some people experience random luck, such as those that win Roll Up The Rim at Tim Hortons or those that happen to find a 50-dollar bill on the street, when everyone else walked passed it without noticing it. But people who win the lottery, I don't consider that luck since someone has to win at some point.

I recently read the book Hustle that talks about taking risks, looking for hidden opportunities and to stop being a dreamer but rather a doer -- these are things that put you in a better position to get lucky.

Whenever I've gotten a break in life, it's because I put myself out there and seized an opportunity, without weighing the cons first.

ethnic woman plane

(Photo: AndreSR via Getty Images)

Travelling is only one of many examples. I would like to think I'm a people person and have some pretty amazing people around me, not because I'm lucky but because I have cultivated these relationships over decades. Some of these people have also become indispensable to my network connections.

Ninety-nine percent of people make their own luck. How?

  • By taking risks
  • By perfecting their craft
  • By doing things, not talking about doing things
  • By making sense of ambiguous opportunities that may come from simply having a conversation with a stranger at a coffee shop.

There are so many small actions that can change our path in life. We either write the plot to our own story (a.k.a. create luck) or someone else will write it for us (unlucky). Regardless, we have control over our choices, actions and reactions, and the things we can't control, we need to let them go. That's what self-made lucky people do  --  dust off their shoulders and move on. 

"People are opportunities. People are jobs. People are companies. People are your life. Not technology, not art, not commerce. Everything begins and ends with your relationships."
-- Neil Patel, Patrick Vlaskovits & Jonas Koffler, authors of Hustle

Next time someone says to you "you're so lucky," replace the word love with luck and belt out Tina Turner's '84 classic "What's Love Got to Do with It."

You'll either discover you have a hidden talent, or you don't.

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