I don’t believe there is one surefire way to guarantee success in this world, but I do believe there is a way to make success highly possible in one’s life.
The other day I was sitting in a restaurant eating steak tips with a few friends. One friend leaned into me and asked how my job search was coming. I sighed and gave an optimistic answer, though I wasn’t much at all positive about the trial.
He gave encouraging replies comforting my spirit. Unlike many people, this friend was highly interested in my job search, almost like he knew that pain of unfamiliarity all too well.
When I asked him why he was helping me, he said, “Neal, I don’t want you to miss your opportunity like I did.”
That phrase struck me with sudden anxiety. Is it possible to miss or waste an opportunity?
Unfortunately, it is.
Opportunities, or the times God gives us to advance His work and live a more meaningful life, can be missed if they are not met with hard work.
In other words, this is what success looks like:
Success = Opportunity + Hard Work
I believe God gives us plenty opportunities to make the choices that would benefit both the world and our lives. But opportunities need to be recognized and met with hard work. Otherwise, they can pass right by us.
Jesus, I learned, never wasted His time or squandered His opportunity. He lived completely obedient to God (of course, because He was His Son and all). His obedience required hard work. It required Him to travel with His disciples, lead people to freedom, commit miracles, and constantly be in the public eye. Jesus made the most of His opportunity.
In the same way, we would benefit in recognizing what opportunities are at work in our lives now so that we can work hard to capitalize on them.
Here are some ways to recognize opportunities and work to find success:
- 1. Assess the real estate of your schedule. Hidden in your schedule could be under-utilized opportunities. Take advantage of these times. For instance, taking one job helps me to cut down on my travel time. I see this as an opportunity. I instead use this time to write. Craft your schedule to meet your opportunities with hard work.
- 2. Have your end-goals always in mind. Once you establish where you want to end up, it makes it easier to spot the opportunities that’ll help get you there. As an example, I know I want to make a living on my writing. So I learn to spot opportunities by thinking about the things that’ll allow me to have the most time to write.
- 3. Be positive with your outlook. Taking advantage of opportunities requires you to be hopeful in some way. If you don’t see certain aspects of your life as opportunities to take advantage of, you’ll waste them and end up farther from where you want to be. Train yourself to see the bright side of things.
- 4. Learn to rest efficiently from your work. Jesus went away from the hustle and bustle of ministry to pray on mountains and replenish Himself. In these times, He efficiently and effectively refilled Himself for the challenging work of making the most of His opportunity. This applies to us as well. If you’re going to work hard, rest even harder.
In the times when I fear I’m missing an opportunity, I work hard, and it’s paying off. It might not guarantee success for you to do the same, but it makes it highly possible for success to happen.
Acknowledge opportunities and work hard, and hopefully success will be on the other side of the equation.
Photography by Mikaela Hamilton