Opportunities don’t always come when you expect them. You may have to wait for days, weeks, months or even years before one shows up, but what should you do while waiting? How can you make your waiting period an interesting and productive one?
1. Maximize the opportunities you already have.
Don’t let the opportunities you have slip away, because you’re pursuing others that are yet in your reach. I have seen many young people make this mistake – they walk away from something they are doing just because they want something different, and when they fail, they lose at both ends. While waiting, be committed to what you already have at hand. Don’t quit that job even if it’s not what you want to do for the rest of your life, because it can help you save some money for further studies or for starting your own business. You can learn a skill from it that you’ll need in the future.
I remember the first time I was presented with the opportunity to teach. I wanted to be an engineer and wasn’t interested in the classroom, but because I had one full year before entering the university, I decided to take the opportunity. Fortunately for me, I ended up teaching for two years because the university admission was delayed for another year. The teaching skills however came really handy some years later. I excelled at organising extra classes for course mates and junior colleagues in the university. Those early years in the classroom also laid the foundation I needed to pursue a career in education.
If you’re doing something different from the dream you have, always remind yourself that it’s temporary. Give it your best, use it as a stepping stone into the opportunity you are anticipating and you’ll be happy you did.
2. Create the ones you can create yourself.
Not all opportunities will come to you. Some you’ll have to create yourself, and to do this, you must learn to improvise. To improvise means to make something using only materials that is available. Sometimes when one way is blocked, you need to find another one. Sometimes when a door closes, you may need to try the window.
Opportunities often present themselves indirectly and it is only when you improvise that you will see them. If, for instance, you want to get in to the university but can’t afford the fees, you can look for scholarship opportunities. If the scholarship does not come, you can decide to work while schooling.
I have a friend who does this. His father died while he was still a little boy and his mother could only train him halfway through secondary school. He managed to finish his secondary education on scholarship and also passed the entrance exams into the university, but that was as far as he could go. He couldn’t afford the tuition for a university education. He felt very dejected and wanted to forfeit the admission until a friend encouraged him not to. Few days later, a family offered him a job as a private tutor for their kids. Within a few weeks, he got similar offers from a number of families, and that was how he was able to pay his tuition and sustain himself in school. He created the opportunities himself.
It is definitely not the best to sit down and wait for opportunities to fall into your lap. You can create one yourself and through it achieve your life’s goals.
3. Rebrand and repackage.
The way you brand and package yourself could be the reason why opportunities don’t come your way. If you list the wrong skills for a job, you’ll definitely get rejected, but if you repackage your skills and experiences, and present it in such a way that it matches what’s needed, you’ll be on your way to achieving your dream.
I remember one time I was applying as a freelancer at Upwork. My first application was rejected, because the skill set I filled didn’t match what they wanted, but after I made some changes and filled in the appropriate skills, I was selected right away.
Learn personal branding. Add some new skills to the ones you already have. Adjust your looks. Maybe you need to change your profile picture, or the kind of posts you make on social media, or your ‘About’ page, do so. These things go a long way to tell people who you are, so that when you change them, people get to see a new you.
4. Get close to where the opportunities are even if it’s beyond your comfort zone.
If there are no opportunities where you are, it could be that you’re in the wrong place. Opportunities often have a physical or virtual location, and it is only when you place yourself right in their environment that you’ll get them. If you’re a guy looking for a wife, you won’t find her by locking up yourself all day in an office. Go to the places where your kind of girl visits and you’ll be sure to meet her. If it’s a scholarship position you need, subscribe to email notifications and look in the right places. If it’s a job you need, do the same. Talk to people who are close to opportunities and let them know you’re searching. Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you. Go to where they are and grab them.
5. When you’re at the right place, persevere in your search.
Don’t stop knocking on doors. Don’t stop anticipating. Don’t stop looking. There’ll always be a chance of finding what you need if you don’t give up. Opportunities don’t come to those who give up. They come to those who never quit. If you quit, there is a hundred percent chance that you’ll never get what you’re looking for. It doesn’t matter how often you’ve tried before and failed, search again. That opportunity you need may just be behind the next door. Knock again. Your efforts will pay off someday – if you don’t give up.
I recently watched a movie about thirty-three Chilean miners who were buried underground when the mine they were working in collapsed. They were rescued after a grueling sixty-nine days and their rescue didn’t come easy. Several unsuccessful efforts were made to locate where they were underground. The rescuers had given up all hopes of finding them alive. Then someone suggested they try another method. At first it looked stupid, but they decided to try again. It was that one last try that got the rescuers to where the miners were holed up, clinging desperately to life. Your next try may be all you need to get there. Don’t give up.
6. Market Yourself.
No matter how well you’ve packaged your credentials, you will still need to advertise and market yourself. Let people know who you are and what you can do. Be confident. Don’t doubt yourself. You’ve put in so much effort into learning and relearning. You’ve done your best at rebranding and repositioning yourself, now, market yourself, advertise, broadcast and tell your story. It is what you tell people that they’ll believe and accept about you. If you say nothing, they’ll know nothing and have nothing to believe about you. If you say the wrong thing, you’ll get rejection in return, but if you confidently display your skills, talent and abilities, you’ll be sure to see them presenting you with awesome opportunities, some of which you never dreamt of.
I was at a bloggers’ conference some time ago and one of the speakers told us how painstakingly she would chat up all her Facebook friends, one person after another, persuading them to visit her blog. In the process, she not only marketed herself, but increased the traffic to her site. In no time, she was known as a skilled story teller and successful blogger.
If you take the pains to tell people about yourself, you’ll be getting surrounded by numerous opportunities pretty soon.
7. Build and maintain healthy relationships everywhere, every time.
You cannot do without networking. Your life is a product of the relationships you keep or fail to keep! You cannot separate opportunities from people. No. Opportunities are often one or two persons away, and that’s a fact you must reckon with. Sometimes it will take only one of your contacts to offer you that opportunity you’ve been dreaming about. When you build and maintain relationships, you build and maintain possible links to numerous opportunities.
Many years ago, my father was out of job and his business wasn’t doing well. After many months of struggling, an old friend invited him to a remote town where there was a great opportunity to start a business. At first we didn’t understand how it was going to work out, but eighteen years later today, we have built a family business that has the ability to last another generation. Friends, family members, colleagues, casual acquaintances, all these and more are our potential links to opportunities. Don’t be a lone-ranger; associate, relate, and cooperate with people. Your big break is one person away.
Always remember you don’t have to sit still and do nothing simply because you feel short on opportunities;
- Relate well with people
- Rebrand and advertise yourself
- Strategically position yourself where the opportunities are
- Keep looking out for the slightest sign of one
In that way, you’ll get super ready for the next awesome break.