How To Race Towards Success When All The Odds Are Stacked Against You

One question I have been asked over and over again, by others and by me…”Considering the shit show of a life you were born into, how in the world did you get to where you are today?”

Let me tell you a story about that.

I lived my first 17 years deep within “The Opportunity Gap.” I started out living in a motel with an alcoholic mother and a stranger for a step-dad, bouncing from relative, to school, to shelter, lacking any type of nurturing relationship, just lacking basic life necessities and opportunity in general. I ended up being a grown women with multiple degrees in Education and Psychology, embracing a title of Life-Coach, nurturing a healthy relationship with my husband, my children, my siblings, my money, myself.

And life just keeps getting better.

How did that happen?

I’ve wondered about this for a really long time. There are common threads each time I take a step forward, and they all boil down to Relationships, Awareness, Courageous Curiosity, and Execution.

I know for certain that there are a handful of people who were put in my life for a very specific reason. My aunt who took me in when my mom couldn’t, the neighbor who introduced me to my Christian faith, the families who adopted me as their own, allowing me to engage in my education and my social development, when the opporturnity wasn’t available at home, the guidance counselor who asked me in my final semester of high school “Where are you going to college?” And when I said I have no idea and no money, he pointed me in the right direction and then paid for my dorm deposit. Those relationships are so important. They are there for a reason and are never meant to be taken for granted.

I have always had an acute awareness that there is more to life than my own current circumstances. I notice people’s actions and the roles they play. I can remember being a tiny six year old girl, in a session with my court appointed therapist, asking her about her job. I didn’t care why I was there in that moment, I was interested in how to be like her in some future moment. I wanted to play with doll houses and talk about life.

I still watch the world around me and know that it is so much bigger than I am. Even though I may not know which way to go, or how to get there in the moment, I know I can go somewhere.

The awareness of possibility is the creator of hope.

Don’t get me wrong. I am beyond grateful for my life, and try to remain as present as possible, but I always try to have a small part of my heart and mind just one step ahead.

Awareness drives a deep curiosity within me. I continually wonder what people do, how they do it, what they know, and how to get to the next step. Keeping that curiosity to myself just isn’t enough. I reach out and ask questions. Unfortunately, there is such a stigma around asking questions. People hesitate out of fear of bothering somebody, or of looking dumb. But really, what the hell does their opinion of you matter five years from now, when one simple answer could be the possible catalyst to your giant success? Never hesitate to reach out and ask a question.

“What does your job look like on a daily basis? How did you find out about this? What do you know about…”

Whatever I wonder, I ask.

You must be deeply and courageously curious. Don’t just know and wonder, go ahead and ask! What is it? Who is it? How is it?

Not only does asking questions bring you answers, but this simple act creates purposeful connections with people that can help to open up a myriad of new opportunities for you.

Finally, once you have the answers you have been looking for, the real magic is in the execution. You must actually do something! You must put action and energy behind your knowledge in order to turn that goodness into something great! Make a plan and execute it! Maybe it’s doing more research, actually applying for that new job, going back to school, taking a trip, whatever. Choose your life goals and then set some smart goals to move forward.

What is the difference, you ask?

Life goals are chosen based on your purpose, passion, and what kind of value you want to add to the world. One of my life goals is to use my life experiences, education, and strenghts to help people overcome adversity in their lives and move towards their highest state of wellbeing possible. SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. SMART goals help to strategize your steps towards supporting your life goals. One of my SMART goals is to complete my coursework in positive psychology by the end of the summer in order to know and be able to implement positive interventions for my middle school students.

SMART goals are pertinent because you can have all the knowledge and passion in the world but if you don’t take strong, tangible action, nothing will manifest from it. Don’t let all that effort go to waste!

Making positive change in order to overcome adversity is not easy, but it is simple. Value your relationships, be aware of your resources, seek out information, and make a move. Use these powerful actions to RACE to success.

Courageous Curiosity

Let me know where you end up! I can’t wait to hear all about it!

About the Author | Jessi Kovalik

Jessi is a wife and mother of two young children who has dedicated her adult life to breaking generational cycles of addiction, poverty and mental illness. She believes that humans are capable of creating meaning out life challenges, and uses her experience as a counselor and educator to help people identify purpose, and to clear the obstacles that stand in the way of reaching maximum potential.

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