Psychological Super Powers: How to Create Luck

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Doesn't it seem like everybody is talking about luck and being lucky? They're talking about the law of attraction. Have you seen that movie, "The Secret"? Whether or not you believe in universal energy patterns and have different spiritual beliefs, we're going to talk about the psychological underpinnings of luck today and how you can harness that in your own life.

My name is Caitlin Faas and I'm a psychology professor and coach and I know I use this in my life when I think about my career and I look back on the last ten years. I often say to people, "I was lucky to have this experience. I met this person at the exact right time for me." What I know is that I set that intention, even if it wasn't clear at the time, hindsight is always 20/20, but I was using a psychological principle called priming.

Priming is pretty magical because it's something in our brain that works through our implicit memory system.

So it's not really conscious to us. You experience this every day, all the time. Maybe a friend mentions a movie to you and you hear the name and you say okay. You don't really actively think about it, but then a week goes by and you start to notice all these things, like there's an advertisement for the movie and another friend asks you about the movie and then you see it in a magazine. All these things start to add up. What's happening behind the scenes is that your brain is watching and scanning your environment all the time for things that you've been primed for. Advertisers are really great at using this.

 How can you introduce priming in your life and harness the power?

First, we want to make sure that you introduce the idea to your brain.

Are you kind of swirling around with unclear thoughts about what you actually want? Narrow it down, write it down and get intentional about that list. When I was working on my dissertation proposal I went through pages and pages of trying to narrow down my idea. "I think it's this. No, I think it's this. Let me narrow it down to this category." I was constantly reiterating, "Okay, can I get to this place, to this particular idea."

The second way to activate priming is then to introduce the idea to everyone else in your life.

This can be really scary. It feels like there's going to be judgment about your statement or "I'm putting this into the world, how will people react?" but once you start to tell other people about your idea then they'll be able to help you. They'll be primed and they'll want to help you develop that idea, whatever it might be. My dissertation proposal, when I landed on that third proposal idea ... I'm pretty sure it went to three rounds ... when I landed on that third idea, I was then able to tell the world, "I'm studying college students that drop out. Do you know anyone?" and people responded to me. They knew people who had dropped out of college. I was connected to admissions counselors and other people at universities about this issue. It became something iterative because I shared it with the world.

You can prime your brain and you can prime others but the third thing we want to make sure you know is that you also need to make your own luck and take the steps necessary to do the work for what you're excited about. This year for example, I am working on speaking engagements and being in front of more crowds and on more stages, so I have a very specific goal for that. I'm telling others. I'm telling you right now.

You know anyone who needs an inspirational speaker?

I'm also taking actions to be a better speaker and engage with people, meet new people. Little things start to add up and all of a sudden I'm making my own luck and doing the hard work necessary to make that happen.

If you want to work on these things yourself, we have a worksheet that goes with this video to talk about the steps, walking you through how can you use priming to your advantage. Sometimes it can seem things like the law of attraction is too good to be true or serendipity and luck but this worksheet will break it down with scientific, concrete principles to help you move forward.

We'd love to hear from you, keep us posted on what's bringing you luck this month.