From the moment you are born, you possess a certain amount of luck, depending upon your parents, your family’s social and financial situation, your native homeland, and your health. Your good or bad fortune is guided by the direction set at that early stage.

Now you’re an adult, and you might be wondering how to make the most of your luck or contemplating why you’re on such an unlucky streak. If it feels a little New Age-y or counterproductive to devote brainpower to the notion of luck, rest assured that you aren’t alone. But understanding the role of luck in your life, and how to take advantage of what you have, is a critical component of maximizing your success.

Researchers have also wondered about the role of luck in life. For instance, biochemist Ohid Yaqub was offered $1.7 million to study serendipity as it pertains to scientific discoveries. Yaqub found that while serendipity can be somewhat planned, it includes an element of chance.

From a career perspective, that means you could do everything right and still have a negative outcome, especially if the range of potential outcomes is polarized. Another study concluded that luck plays a huge part in helping untalented performers get ahead of more talented ones. In fact, the economists who tackled the subject concluded that even superstars aren’t shoo-ins for career success without some good fortune on their side.

Of course, before you decide to put all your faith in fate, remember that your day-to-day decisions still affect life’s outcomes. Luck can make or break many situations, but following a steady and focused course gives you the best shot to manage whatever luck life tosses your way.

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