"I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn't been prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn't have been 'lucky.'"

Woman looking toward sky

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"Luck is not a magical ability or a gift from the gods. Instead, it is a way of thinking and behaving."

Richard Wiseman, PhD
Charlize Theron

"I'd be unbelievably wrong to say there isn't such a thing as the right place, right time—luck."

Charlize Theron, actress
Older woman on beach

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"If you ask people (as I often do) how they make decisions, 'lucky' people will talk about tuning in to information and instincts, while 'unlucky' people often mention pushing away the uncomfortable feeling they were headed for trouble."

Martha Beck, life coach
Woman climbing mountain

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"The best way to move a mountain is one stone at a time. Nothing is insurmountable if you take one step before you take the next."

Ed and Deb Shapiro, spiritual teachers
Suzan-Lori Parks

"I realized that my circumstances, while causing me despair and heartbreak, also held great possibility, if only I could see it. I knew that I was learning one of the most important lessons of my life: that instead of waiting for the perfect opportunity, I should work toward a realization that every opportunity is perfect. Each moment is perfect and heaven-sent, in that each moment holds the seeds for growth. Difficulty creates the opportunity for self-reflection and compassion."

Suzan-Lori Parks, Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright
Confident woman

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"We all live in suspense, from day to day, from hour to hour; in other words, we are the hero of our own story."

Mary McCarthy, American writer
Woman doing finances

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From my vantage point, when it comes to money, women tend to lack confidence in their ability to do the right thing. If you're not in control of your money, you can't be in control of your life. So, starting right now, your goal is to be a woman who owns the power to control her financial destiny. Here's how:

• Don't panic. When the topic turns to money, so many women fall into a horrible default mode of "I can't do this" or "I don't know what to do." I want you to commit to one month of telling yourself, "Yes, I can." That crucial change in attitude is the first step.

• Tap into your intuition. You trust yourself on so many levels, so why not when it comes to money? When you're pondering a financial decision, step back for a moment and ask yourself one simple question: Does it feel right? The answer, if you're being honest with yourself, is more valuable than what anyone else has to say. And always remember, you should never have to talk yourself into trusting anyone. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.

Suze Orman, financial expert
Jane Fonda

"Who am I? I'm a survivor. I'm a woman with tremendous inner resources and resilience. I care about people. I believe in 'Do unto others as you would have others do unto you,' and I live by that. I am becoming authentic, and that's important to me. I have surpassed both my parents in terms of emotional stability, happiness and well-being. And I'm a lucky woman. I've deserved my luck."

Jane Fonda, actress
Aware woman

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I use this example from the teachings of the New Testament: "With God, all things are possible." Now, what does that leave out? All things means all things. Excuses are thoughts that tell you what you can't do, how difficult something will be for you, that it will take too long or that you don't have the luck or the ability to create the life you want. By thinking in awareness, you correct your mind and allow all the things you need to show up in order to have your life work the way you want it to. This kind of thinking will remind you that you do exist in a place where all things are possible. I encourage you to apply this consciousness to all of your old thinking habits.

Try aligning yourself with these affirmations in place of their old excuses:

Excuse: It will be difficult.
Affirmation: With God, all things are possible.

Excuse: I'm too busy.
Affirmation: With infinite patience, I produce immediate results.

Dr. Wayne Dyer, author

"What I know for sure: Often we don't even realize who we're meant to be because we're so busy trying to live out someone else's ideas. But other people and their opinions hold no power in defining our destiny.

"What has made me successful is the ability to surrender my plans, dreams and goals to a power that's greater than other people and greater than myself."

Couple in love

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"We are told that people stay in love because of chemistry, or because they remain intrigued with each other, because of many kindnesses, because of luck. But part of it has got to be forgiveness and gratefulness."

Ellen Goodman, writer
Surprised woman

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"Don't simply dismiss a coincidence and let it drift away. Life is totally interconnected. These unusual 'things' are simply connections that surprise you because you aren't used to seeing life except in fragments. Now it is beginning to piece itself together."

Deepak Chopra
Katherine Heigl

"I dreamed about these moments, and I think I hoped I would have them, but you don't know. So when the lucky break hits, it's like being Cinderella and hopefully midnight doesn't come."

Katherine Heigl, actress
Man and woman on rock

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"If you never play you will never lose, but you won't win either. If you never climb a mountain you will never know for sure how good the view is."

Ed and Deb Shapiro, spiritual teachers
Dana Reeve

"Most of the time I think we're really pretty positive and optimistic, and we're so lucky to have the life that we have and had with him."

Dana Reeve, actress
Neil Patrick Harris

"I don't know what to make of fate. I certainly don't think you can predetermine things. It feels like if you go out of your way to try to make something happen, it rarely does. But if you allow for good things to happen, they seem to. I think a lot of that is more perception, you know? A lot of people would take getting rear-ended in their car as an example of why their life continues to be one road block after another, and I think a different person can see that same fender bender and be grateful it wasn't worse. That allows them an opportunity to learn something from it—sort of take some sort of positive elements from that. I think if you try to angle your life in those ways, then fate, destiny, karma opens itself up to you and allows for more growth."

Neil Patrick Harris, actor
Woman seeing opportunity

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"Lucky people create, notice and act upon the chance opportunities in their lives. Being in the right place at the right time is actually all about being in the right state of mind."

Richard Wiseman, PhD

"I for sure believe in miracles. For me, a miracle is seeing the world with light in your eyes. It's knowing there's always hope and possibility where none seems to exist. Many people are so closed to miracles that even when one is boldly staring them in the face, they label it coincidence or serendipity. I call it like I see it."

Randy Pausch

"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity."

Randy Pausch, professor
Holding hands

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"While jogging one afternoon, she spots a young boy on the road. He is wearing a familiar-looking sweater; it is made of blue wool, with zebras at the foot of a snowy mountain. She stops him, turns down his collar—and sees her name written on the tag. It's the sweater she donated 11 years earlier. The encounter convinces her that all of us are interconnected: 'Our actions—and inaction—touch people every day across the globe, people we may never know and never meet.'"

Katie Arnold-Ratliff, columnist for O, The Oprah Magazine
Woman jumping

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"God, or a source of divinity, put together a map for our lives. That map includes opportunities—not outcomes—but opportunities. And those opportunities are contracts [or] agreements—not that our ego or personality made, but our soul did."

Caroline Myss
Woman practicing yoga

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"Peace of mind is ultimately achieved only when the characters opt out of active emotional involvement in life and accept the fate they have been given."

James Higgins, author
Woman walking on beach

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So how do you tune in to your timekeeping impulses? Ironically, the only way to access your inner guide about the future is to fully occupy the present. By noticing everything you're feeling—physically, emotionally and intuitively—in any given moment, you maximize your awareness of the "exquisitely refined" nonverbal timekeeper nudging your noggin. These are the strategies I've found most effective at keeping me in the right place at the right time:

1. Take a relaxed breath and exhale fully. Before inhaling again, rest in the pause between breaths. Focus on your heartbeat and the pulse in your hands, feet and scalp. As you return to breathing normally, remain aware of your pulse throughout your body. This anchors you in the present and keeps you calm during the next steps.

2. Acknowledge that you can't change anything that's already happened. Sometimes that's a shame, but it's just plain true.

3. Accept that many things about the future are unknowable and beyond your control. Scary? Oh, yes—but again: true.

4. Recognize whatever's happening right now (you'd be amazed how often we try to deny what's going on). If the present is miserable, this step can hurt—but not nearly as much as living with the consequences of denial.

5. Pull an Eckhart Tolle: Shrink the focus of your attention to this present moment. Are you going through a divorce, bankruptcy or similarly difficult experience? Maybe—but right now, you're just reading this. Be here now. When you plan, plan here now. Don't preemptively grapple with circumstances that don't yet exist. Living this moment in peace, tuned in to your inner timekeeper, will lay the groundwork for the best possible future.

6. Go back to sensing your pulse throughout your body (this returns you to a peaceful place if you've been unsettled), and ask yourself what you feel you should do about each situation in your life. As you begin articulating what you know or suspect about the right course of action, your body will relax. Even if things look scary, accepting the truth brings peace.

7. Follow through on any ideas you've had about preparing for your optimal future.

8. Stay alert to new hunches, and change plans accordingly.

The more often you follow these steps, the more your life will seem blessed by good luck. You'll realize you're a walking gold mine of subconscious predictive information. The more you test the validity of that information by acting on your instincts, the more accurate your predictions will become. Research shows that making and correcting missteps is the best way to develop any skill. And anticipating circumstances that might change, to avoid potential problems and seize opportunities, is very much a skill. As you pay attention to your internal timekeeper and learn from your mistakes, you may eventually hear yourself rhapsodizing, "The timing's perfect!"

Martha Beck, life coach
Trees and sunset

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"Life does not come with instructions on how to live, but it does come with trees, sunsets, smiles and laughter, so enjoy your day."

Ed and Deb Shapiro, spiritual teachers
Woman looking

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"I've learned the hard way that destiny usually looks upon our most strident convictions with amusement, or perhaps even pity."

Elizabeth Gilbert, author
Happy woman

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"Human beings are unbelievably strong and terribly hopeful about what's going to happen next. Though everyone's faith is different, I've seen that people have faith in goodness. And whenever they get to the end of life, that goodness takes over. They believe that when they leave this world, a peace will come."

Dr. Julie Freischlag
Celine Dion

"Life imposes things on you that you can't control, but you still have the choice of how you're going to live through this."

Celine Dion, singer
Michelle Obama

"We're [President Barack Obama and I] clear on the fact that we have to stay humble and prayerful. We have to dig down deep to our roots. When things come together, we know some of it is Barack, some of it is us—but a lot of it has nothing to do with either of us."

First lady Michelle Obama
Woman walking in desert

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"The greatest wonder is never being able to know what will happen next. No matter how hard you try, the future will always be ahead of you."

Ed and Deb Shapiro, spiritual teachers

Photo: George Burns

"What you believe has more power than what you dream or wish or hope for. You become what you believe."