St. Patrick’s Day is this weekend. Being raised in an Irish-Catholic community, St. Patrick’s Day has always been a pretty big deal. I really did believe the saying “Everyone is Irish on St. Patty’s Day” up until college. Apparently not many German Lutherans celebrate the holiday. Who knew?
There are many things that come to mind when I think of St. Patty’s Day: Green beer, green clothing, shamrocks, pinching*, green vomit, leprechauns, and luck. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the luck.
I’ve always considered myself to be a fairly lucky girl. Not to say that bad things didn’t happen, but I was usually “lucky” enough to pull through. Things just had a way of working themselves out. And then, I made my Big Mistakes. And for once in my life, Lady Luck was NOT on my side.
Starting this blog has really made me think about my financial life; Past, present and future. Especially the past part. After all, in order to say where I am and where I’m going, I have to share where I’ve been. Some people would say that my financial past was like the “perfect storm”; Everything that could go wrong, did. And I could sit here and chalk it all up to bad luck. Because, really, I couldn’t have imagined how many things could go wrong at that one moment in time!
But the whole idea of luck assumes that you have no role in it. Like it didn’t matter what I did, the end result would still have been the same. And honestly, I just can’t believe that. Maybe it’s my inner control-freak coming out, but I refuse to believe that everything happens TO us, and we’re just innocent bystanders to it all.
I saw a picture on a PF blog** recently of a metal bracelet that said something along the lines of “Luck is where opportunity and preparation meet”. And it hit me: Maybe our whole understanding of luck is wrong. Merriam-webster.com defines luck as: A force that brings good fortune or adversity. A force. Like some supernatural thing. But maybe that isn’t really what luck is. Maybe it really is where opportunity meets preparation.
You may not realize it, but you have hundreds, maybe even millions, of opportunities in front of you every day. Some are good, some are bad, some are neutral. I think most of us get so bogged down in day-to-day life that we miss all the opportunities that are available to us. But looking back on my life, my “luck” is typically good when I’m prepared, and doing what I should be doing, and bad when I’m not. Being responsible with savings and credit: Good luck. Living off my credit cards while I explore my “passions”: Bad luck.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that when bad things happen it’s all your fault. Bad things happen to everyone. Preparing doesn’t mean that nothing bad will ever happen, or that luck will always be on your side. It’s just that when bad things happen, they’re less likely to be able to knock you down. And, when good things come along, you’re more likely to see them, and be in a position to take advantage of them.
Last week my area got several inches of wet, slushy snow overnight. The roads were slick. I am NOT a morning person. As usual, I was leaving the house with barely enough time. As “luck” would have it, my car slid trying to turn onto a side street and hit the curb, head on. I spent several minutes trying to get enough traction to pull away from the curb, and several minutes down the road checking for damage. Being behind got me right into rush hour. I ended up being 30 minutes late for work.
Taking luck out of it though, the whole thing was really just a lack of planning on my part. Yes, I typically could have made it in the amount of time I had. But, I knew we’d likely have snow in the morning. I HOPED they’d have the roads cleared by the time I was out on them. I also knew that my car has zero traction when there’s any hint of snow or ice on the roads. I should have planned for bad roads, and given myself more time. Sure, I still would have slid turning onto the road. But it wouldn’t have caused me to be late to work. My lack of planning met with bad opportunities, and led to my bad “luck”.
Or maybe that’s just my inner control-freak talking 😉
– Ms. W
*Tradition says that anyone not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day should be pinched. Given how hard many people pinched, I’ve always assumed the idea was to leave a bruise. You didn’t start off wearing green, so they’d give you some!
**My apologies to who ever’s blog and picture it was. I’ve been reading so many lately, I’ve lost track. I tried going back to the ones I thought it could have been, but no luck finding the bracelet. If anyone remembers, let me know so I can link back to them and give credit where credit is due!