How to Recognise and Take Advantage of Opportunities

How to Recognise and Take Advantage of Opportunities
Take Advantage of Opportunities
Folger Shakespeare Library Washington, DC; Comedy and Tragedy masks by sculptor/architect Paul Cret (1932). Photo by Smallbones [Public domain or CC0], from Wikimedia Commons

I went into town the other day for my transplant checkup, and I noticed a lot of homeless people. It occurred to me that in the same way that you’re only a few steps from losing everything, you’re only a few steps from having it all. You just need the ability to recognise and take advantage of opportunities that come your way.

In many ways, working from home is working in relative isolation. Not only do you not have colleagues to chat with, but you lose touch with the wider community as well. You tend to get fixated on a single way of being or doing, and don’t always recognise risks or opportunities as they pass you by.

Risks and Opportunities

In general, risks are things that could go bad; you need to think about how to prevent or manage them.

Opportunities are things that might go well; you need to think about how you might create or get the maximum benefit from them.

Identifying Risks

Identifying risks is just a case of thinking about all the things that could possibly go wrong. It’s harder than you might think.

Identifying Opportunities

Identifying risks can be difficult. But as humans, we tend to not be very good at thinking about what could go too well:

  • Your homemade hair ties go viral, and you get thousands of orders.
  • Your boss is so impressed by your presentation they want you to do it for the management team.
  • A producer sees your YouTube video and wants you to perform on daytime tv.

Taking Advantage of Your Opportunities

There are opportunities and opportunities, and not all opportunities are the right ones for you.

  • If making hair ties is more of a hobby and you like giving them to your friends and families, setting up industrial-scale production may not make you happy.
  • If you’ve been developing your presentation skills and are looking to step up at work, then presenting to the management team will be just the ticket.
  • If you like the informality of YouTube, you might not want to appear on tv. On the other hand, if you are hungry for fame, this will be an opportunity you want to take.

So how do you know which ones are right for you?

Your Vision, Mission, and Virtues

It all comes back to knowing what you want – your vision of your ideal future.

Your vision of a financially independent future might well include a business. And people asking to buy your hair ties shows a potential audience for your product. It’s worth considering whether your resistance is due to fear, not knowing how to proceed, or if it’s just not the right thing for you right now.

Test the Hypothesis

Rather than just freak out and run away, take a moment to think about the possibility. Do a few internet searches to find out what’s involved, for example, setting up a production run. Get the information you need to make an informed decision about whether to proceed.

Set a Deadline

It’s easy to dither for so long an opportunity disappears, or worse, you lose the excitement of it. Set a deadline to make a firm decision about moving forward or not. Don’t feel obliged to take up an opportunity if it doesn’t match your vision and have a reasonable likelihood of success.

Just Dive In

It’s easy to spend too much time on research. And sometimes, the more information you have, the less you know what to do (analysis paralysis). But at some point, you have to trust your gut and start moving forward.

Develop Success Criteria

Sometimes, an opportunity is not as good as it first seems, and it’s easy to get too invested. Set some boundaries around your efforts, so you will know when it’s time to quit. Or set yourself a trial period, say six months.

The Verdict

Like all things in life, opportunities aren’t fixed. What seems like a good idea today may not be so attractive next year. If it doesn’t seem to be working out, don’t feel that you can’t call it quits. Tomorrow is another day, and another day is another opportunity.

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