Being of German background, I may have a bias toward "the rules", but today I read an interesting post by Richard Koch, author of several books on the 80/20 Principle, in which he makes this point:
He says often we get so caught up in the supposed rules of life (to get a good job, get a college education; to make money, work hard, etc.) that we miss it when opportunities not in line with those assumptions pop up.
If you want to be more open to benefitting from the opportunities that arise, he advises exposing yourself to a lot of different people and situations. Leave aside your preconceptions and be willing to takes risks:
"Take risks with limited downside, and cut your losses if the bet is going nowhere. For example, change jobs, change where you live, change the people you mix with, accept daring projects that may not succeed but could move your fortunes up a gear. Divide your life into more discrete chunks."
I think we tend to overestimate the risks associated with trying something different, and we hang on too long to things that aren't working...or is that only me? His approach feels like it would be more fun.
It reminds me of one of the sayings of Seneca: "It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult."
Koch has some tips that may increase your odds of happening upon opportunities:
* In terms of your career, find companies and individuals who you think may be about to take off and align yourself with them.
* Build up unique skills and be alert to new situations in which these could make a major contribution. That will make you valuable to the aforementioned companies and individuals.
* When you do get a break, don't hesitate. Jump in, give it everything, and if it doesn't turn out to be a winner, cut your losses without regrets.
The few times I've rolled the dice--moving to Los Angeles to get into writing for TV and film, moving to London when I got tired of LA, approaching a publisher out of the blue--have paid off nicely. Of course a few haven't, but in general the evidence favors being willing to take risks. I wonder whether your experience has been similar.
What would you do if you dared a bit more? What might be the payoff? What are the actual risks? Could this be the time to give it a try, not forgetting about having a way out if it doesn't work?