Some employees seem to have all the luck. They get the peachy job assignments, and bosses notice them. Their sales numbers or other performance metrics always seem to outshine yours, and new career opportunities in the form of raises and promotions seem to come out of nowhere for these people.
The good news is that career luck isn't accidental. You can attract luck in your work life by learning how to turn negative emotions, such as fear, anger, and worry, on their heads and embrace positive counterpart emotions instead. When you are patient rather than frustrated, calm rather than anxious, compassionate rather than angry, and so on, you'll find that clients, customers, coworkers, and bosses start to perceive you differently and interact with you in new ways. Once this begins to happen, lucky encounters and opportunities will start to pop up in your path.
Here are five ways to attract more luck in your career.
Cherry pick your stimuli. When you're feeling depressed and mopey, your impulse is to isolate, or maybe drop in at the happy hour lounge after work that's dark and impersonal. Instead, think of the most positive, cheerful people in your life and call them. Rent a feel-good movie. Take a walk in the sunlight. Make a conscious effort to pick people and places that are upbeat, and you'll see your luck--and your mood--begin to change.
Change your story. Reflect on two or three recent events that made you feel unlucky--e.g., a coworker got the promotion you were expecting, your computer broke down so you missed a work deadline, etc. Now, retell the story, in your mind or on paper, changing the language to reflect your strengths and assets. For example, "I'm valued at work for the great job I do in my current position, and they'll notice me next time" or "I did an excellent report, and next time I'll start sooner to allow for unexpected obstacles."
Build connection. When your self-esteem is in the dumps, you tend to feel useless and unattractive. Then when you're out in public, like at your job, you send an unconscious message that says, "Stay away!" Instead, make an effort to engage with people three times today. Initiate a conversation with the receptionist. Invite a coworker to a lunchtime walk. Volunteer an hour at your church, temple, or soup kitchen.
Be bigger than your grudge. If you find yourself angry and resentful, try this. Make a mental list of five people against whom you harbor a grudge. Pick someone low on the list (for example, choose a snarky coworker rather than your rageaholic father or critical mother) and make a decision to forgive this person. Go through the events in your mind that made you so angry at him or her. Imagine yourself really large, and the grudge really small. Now just flick it away--let it go. After you master forgiveness with an easy one, you can move up your list to more challenging targets.
Open your eyes to the "now." Luck happens when you're open to it. Commit to spending an entire day with your eyes wide open to everything that's happening in front of you--right now. A squirrel sits up and looks at you. A stranger on the train nods to you. A cloud resembles a baby. You hear a meaningful song on the way to work. Just be in the now, for one day, and watch what happens to you, your mood, and how people at work respond to you.
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Judith Orloff, MD (www.judithorloff.com), is a board-certified psychiatrist and an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA. Her new book is Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life (Harmony Books, 2009, $24.95).
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