How to Seize Opportunities

How many times have you heard people say, if I’d only invested in that opportunity 2 years ago, I’d be set for life now? Ironically, as some people are regretting the lost opportunity, new opportunities quietly appearing in front of them, but they can’t see them. On the other hand, there are people who seem to be in the right place at the right time all the time. They seize all great opportunities and laugh all the way to the bank. As if they are always at the epicenter of changes and new trends.

This is not due to luck. There’s a mindset and mentality that can help you see opportunities. The ones that most of the time staring you in the face in plain sight.

Past-Future Connection

Our brain is one big neural network which is specialized in learning and making connections. It has evolved for millions of years to scan the environment, look for patterns, and make connections. That has served our ancestors well, otherwise we wouldn’t be here to talk about it. But powerful as it is, if our brain doesn’t have enough data to establish proper correlations , it may make wrong connections. Predicting the future is one of those cases.

In cases that we have a lot of data, like for instance, everyday sunrise, it’d be safe to predict that the sun will rise tomorrow too. But in cases of rare opportunities, future has little to do with the past.

Our brains tend to stick to the past and assume something that has been happening in the past will continue to happen the same way. For example, if you buy a stock at $40 and it gradually drops to $5, you tend to hold on to it hoping for it to go back up to $40 again. Logically, you could sell it at $5 and buy another stock with better potential, but emotionally, you’d rather hold on to the tanked stock. Why? because you have seen it at $40 in the past. Unfortunately, that’s your brain tricking you into making connection between past and future, where there’s none.

The Power of Unlearning

They say “You must learn from the past”. That’s true when it comes to frequent and repeatable experiences. But when it comes to different, rare, and low statistics events, you must never rely on the past. In fact, you should detach yourself from the past events as soon as possible and see any point in your life as a new starting point. You should try not to learn from them, or you will always be stuck with them.

The faster you can let go of past trends, the sooner you can see the new opportunities.

As a Zen master would advise, try to see the now for what it really is, not the result of the past. Then you can see the opportunity that the present time offers you.

That can help you not only in business opportunities, but also in your personal life and relationships. Meet new people as they really are. Do not judge new people based on your experiences you had with people of the same characteristics like gender, profession, etc. Treat every individual as a new data point. That leads to great opportunities in relationships and happiness. Judging new people based on past and potentially negative experiences will lead to bitterness and sabotage your future relationships.

One of the flaws of the brain’s neural network is mistaking impact for likelihood. If a rare event happens to you once or twice in your life, but has a huge impact, it may scare you into thinking that is likely to happen again. For example, if you were burned in a relationship, you may think that it’ll happen again. Statistically, once or twice is irrelevant, but because the experience was painful, you give it high likelihood that will happen again. Mistaking likelihood for impact is a big obstacle in seizing future opportunities in relationships or business.

The Bottom Line

Come to terms with the reality that every trend will come to an end. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. Stay in the now and experience every moment in time as a new data point unrelated to the past. That mindset can help you see opportunities that the present time offers you.