It was only the second day of my retirement, when I got an email. “I work for XXXX Bank, and would like to talk to you about helping us with [a project similar to what I was doing when I left]. Could we set up a time in the next few days to discuss?”
What? I just retired.
On that same day, a friend I hadn’t been able to have dinner with for a while because of our travel schedules writes and says, “I have an apartment in California that I’m going to be at for the next 3 months. Want to come visit?”
How cool is that?
On Thursday someone I used to work with says, “Let’s talk about possibly working together.”
OK, this is getting funny now.
Friday I was invited to join SCORE, a volunteer-based organization that helps people start or grow their small business.
Now I’m laughing so hard my stomach is hurting.
And to think I was worried I’d have nothing to do. That I’d be alone and wasting away on the shelf.
Opportunity has already come knocking. And I didn’t do much of anything.
Now I gotta tell you – I’m not all that great. I’m not a superstar. I’m not famous. I don’t have people beating down my door. I wasn’t one to network like crazy and have recruiters calling me all the time. I did my work, and wasn't always great at telling people about it. Sure, I was good at it, but so are a lot of other people.
So I’m not really sure why opportunity is knocking. But I can tell you for sure that it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t taken some action first. In my case it was to leave. And I’m certainly going to explore each one and see if it fits. See if it’s right for me. See if I can help and serve them well.
Is opportunity knocking on your door? Sometimes it comes disguised as a problem and doesn’t look like an opportunity. Often it comes when you least expect it. But even if you don’t expect it, you have to be prepared.
In my case, I was prepared because I freed up time. Lots of time. I have prepared myself for virtually any surprise. I’ve also made sure to create spaces in my calendar to add something that comes at the last minute and I really want to do. That’s a luxury, I know, and am appreciating it right now.
In your case, preparation will likely look a bit different. It could include something like
- Putting some margin in your calendar to make room for surprises
- Stating your intention to keep your eyes open for interesting opportunities, even disguised ones
- Changing one thing you do – take on something new and eliminate something old
Mostly it’s about being open to opportunity. Before I left, my head was completely down. Focused on what I had to do and where I had to be. I wasn’t looking to the right or to the left. I probably wouldn’t have seen an opportunity if I tripped over it.
Now I can actually see out of the sides of my eyes. I even turn my head every once in a while. And go, “Oh. I never noticed that before!”
Maybe you can’t leave your job any time soon – unless you have another one in place. Maybe you have a long list of responsibilities that looks like it will never end. I get it. I was just there a week ago. And maybe – just maybe – you can look up every once in a while and be prepared for opportunity to come knocking.
Because if you do, it just might.
Have you ever missed an opportunity because you weren’t looking? Ever had one find you unexpectedly? Share your story in the comments.
P.S., for an extra bonus, here's a video of a student who took advantage of an opportunity to ask Billy Joel a question.