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It’s Hard to Call This Luck

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This morning I put my oldest daughter on the school bus for the very first time.  As the bus pulled away, my feelings instantly turned to a mixture of excitement and fear.  We visited the school last week and met her teacher, and I carefully filled her lunchbox with some of her favorite things.  But, what if she forgets where her classroom is?  Or, if she leaves her lunchbox on the school bus?

What happens if she falls on the playground or sits alone at lunch because no one will play with her?

As her mother, I worry about these little things- often for no reason at all.  But, at the same time, I feel fortunate. 

Because I work at home, my hours are flexible in a way I never thought possible.  I can put my daughter on the bus or drive her, stand outside and wait for her or pick her up.  I can even stop what I’m doing at any moment and rush to the school, if needed.  I hope I never need to, but it’s still a comforting feeling to know that I can.

It’s Hard to Call This Luck

People tell me all the time how lucky I am to be self-employed.  “You’re so lucky to be able to work at home,” they’ll say, as they complain about their commute or their boss or the fact that they have to work at all.

I usually don’t say anything, but it drives me bat-shit crazySure, I’ve been lucky.  I am lucky to have parents who love me and siblings that I’m close with.  I’m lucky to have a great group of friends and a marriage that has been close to perfect for nearly a decade.  I was lucky to be born in a country like this one- one where there is usually hope and opportunity if you work hard enough to find it.

I’ve always been lucky, but my work life has not been perfect by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, I worked a full-time job for an entire year while I built my side business.  That often meant putting in 70 hours or more per week and finding time to work when there literally was none.  I lived that life for a year while also raising two children under the age of 3 and taking care of a household- things like dinner, dishes, and laundry.

And no, I didn’t feel lucky at the time.  In fact, I felt miserable.

Sometimes Hard Work Pays Off

But sometimes hard work pays off.  After a year working what amounts to two full-time jobs, my online income finally surpassed what I made at my full-time job.  It was only then I felt comfortable enough with my income to quit my job and pursue my passion.

Things haven’t been perfect since I quit my job, but I love self-employment and the freedom it has afforded me.  I am happier and more focused than I have ever been, and I am extremely excited about what the future holds.

To some, my work-at home journey might have seemed like an overnight success.

Some call might even call it luck, but I don’t.

I think luck is what happens when you work your ass off.  It’s what happens when opportunity knocks and you are there to answer the door.

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

                                                 -Seneca

Making My Own Luck

As I put my daughter on the bus this morning, I beamed joy and excitement.  My girl is such a smart, sophisticated young lady, and I can’t wailydvivt to watch her grow up and follow her dreams.

And as I stood there, I also realized that one of my own dreams had just come true- I’m officially a work-at-home mom.

Being self-employed allows me to be everything I want to be- a mother, a lover, a friend, and a provider.  And I get to do it all without being beholden to a 9-5 job or a boss who thinks they own my life.

It’s hard to call this luck, but today I feel like the luckiest woman in the world.  I have a family who loves me and a job that fulfills me, and I couldn’t ask for anything more.

How do you define luck?  Do you feel lucky today? 

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56 Comments

  1. Ben Luthi says:

    Great post today, Holly. It’s sad when others discount all your hard work with that little word. But the saddest part is that the type of people who brush it off as luck are the ones who don’t put in the work to follow their own dreams–they just dismiss themselves as unlucky.

    1. Sometimes I think that is the truth. Other times I think they just say it without thinking.

  2. Fantastic post. That would drive me crazy too – there’s no easy button you can push to just suddenly become successful. I know so many people who are just waiting for the perfect job/relationship/etc. to drop into their laps without any actions on their part. But hey – it’s much easier to complain about how miserable you are than it is to actually do something about it.

  3. Best wishes to your daughter! I’m sure she will come home with all sorts of great stories to share from her first day. We make our own luck don’t we? I think people tend to generalize or overlook hard work, achieving goals, etc but using the word “luck” but it doesn’t diminish what you’ve accomplished.

    1. I wrote this post a few days ago…and she did. She had a great day at school! I think she is really enjoying it.

  4. I hadn’t thought about it before, but you are right- you’ve worked your ass off to get to where you are. That’s not luck, that’s hard work! Kudos to you for having the chutzpah to go after your dreams!

  5. I spent most of my 20s living in different places and traveling, and people would say how “lucky” I was that I saw this or that or did this or that. It really wan’t luck, it was just choices I made and actually getting up and doing something and going somewhere. I think many people say that to you because it’s something that they just don’t have the courage to try on their own. They aren’t willing to make a plan and make a change, out of fear.
    Also, your girls are adorable! Hope school goes well for the oldest. What a big step!

    1. Yes! People tell us we’re lucky to go on vacation all the time. I always say, “it’s not luck, it’s credit card rewards!” We couldn’t afford to go everywhere we do without airline miles, etc.

  6. I’ve been going through the job search process for a while now (while still employed), and I keep coming back to the realization that I really hate working a “normal job”. But as you said, it takes a lot of sacrifice to get to where you are. It takes a driven, creative and talented person to be successful. Don’t let people knock you down! You’ve done something that many of us don’t have the courage/discipline to be able to do.

    1. I liked my “normal job” in some ways, but not at all in others. The grass isn’t always greener, but I am glad to be home and available for my kids.

  7. I remember going to check on my son every day at lunch for this exact reason…the panic is a killer. But she’ll come home with these awesome stories about what she learned and friends she made and you’ll suddenly breathe again. 🙂
    My boss told me I needed to be more sensitive at the office when speaking openly about my workout schedule and an eating plan I had recently learned of. Her reasoning was simple: there were others in the office not as “lucky” as me and were overweight. I just thought “are you freaking kidding?” – I am not overweight BECAUSE I work out and eat right rather than sitting in my bum and driving through McDonalds for breakfast every morning on my way in. People are so funny.

  8. But you are lucky to have the *talent* to be able to pull that off. Every situation is a combination of luck and effort. There are people who might be willing to put in the effort but for whatever reason can’t come up with ideas or write. So, you’re lucky to be smart.

    My mother drilled into me that it’s important to use our God-given gifts to make the world a better place. I need to add effort to my native intelligence to help those less fortunate than myself. Not everybody is in a position to pull themselves up by the bootstraps, and those of us who are should help, not hinder.

    1. Oh, I’m definitely lucky to be born with a certain amount of talent that I could build upon. I know a lot of intelligent people who cannot write a really good paragraph, simply because their brain doesn’t work that way!

      This post isn’t about politics or other people not trying hard enough. It’s simply a post about how I feel lucky at this moment, even though it was more than luck than brought me here.

  9. Prudence Debtfree says:

    Your post brings a very sad memory to my mind. When my husband lost his job and I went back to full-time work after having resigned from my part-time job to be a stay-at-home mom only two years earlier, I though it would be temporary. It wasn’t. And when I realized this, it was the thought of missing out on waiting for the school bus with my daughters that had me sobbing. It was part bad-luck, but even more, it was years of poor financial management that had brought us to this point. It’s never too late to get on the right track financially. But it is too late for me to wait for the school bus with my daughters. (Ugh! Tears. I know that wasn’t what you had in mind when you wrote this.)

      1. Prudence Debtfree says:

        Don’t be sorry! It’s just a reality check that might encourage someone else to get on the right track in a more timely way.

  10. How adorable!! We put our oldest daughter on the bus for the first time last year and it was such an odd mix of emotions: pride at what an amazing kid she is and how excited she was, but nervous for the unknown and sad that a chapter of her childhood was over.

    But it has been nearly universally good, and she just loves school and can’t wait to start 1st grade in a few weeks!

    Lucky: I consider myself very fortunate to have been born in America to intelligent parents who were able to provide a comfortable environment where I had the chance to thrive.

    But am I lucky to have taken that foundation and made a really successful life out of it? I don’t think so. I worked hard and prepared myself for the future in ways that the vast majority of people with those same advantages never did.

    I teach my daughters that hard work trumps everything, and even though we are incredibly fortunate in nearly every way, it doesn’t mean we can ever take it for granted. Sometimes working hard isn’t fun, and from our correspondences Holly we both know it isn’t easy sometimes, but it is part of the journey that leads to a successful and fulfilling life!

    1. “I consider myself very fortunate to have been born in America to intelligent parents who were able to provide a comfortable environment where I had the chance to thrive.”

      I agree with this 1000%. I feel luckiest for the simple fact that I grew up in a loving home and learned that success is actually possible.

  11. I think the people who say you are lucky simply use that phrase to diminish what you worked so hard to accomplish. That way, they can feel better about their own inadequacies. Don’t let them get you down. Sadly, the current climate in this country is to discount anything that people accomplish without the government “helping” them. You know the attitude I mean…..”if you have a business, you didn’t build it yourself”. You are proving them wrong, Holly, and it drives them nuts. Keep it up. 🙂

    1. Some people, yes. Others say it because they simply don’t realize what I’ve been through. People who read my blog and other writings may have followed the story but people I know in “real life” probably think I sit home and play Candy Crush all day =)

      I agree with you, though. Some people see other successful people and automatically think it was luck that made it all happen. Luck certainly helps (as it did in my case), but it isn’t enough by itself.

  12. I am happy for you that your hard work is now paying off! I don’t know why people consider working, creating, or searching for opportunities luck when one eventually works out for you. Luck to me is being born in this country or winning the lottery. After that it is about creating opportunities or finding the ones that exist. I am glad you found yours and I am working on my opportunities.

    1. Hey, I want to win the lottery. I actually bought two tickets when we visited Greg’s parents in another state!

  13. I recently listened to an excellent Andy Stanley podcast on Future Family (#5) about parenting and learning to coach your children as they have to make their own decisions in school (which will then prepare them for life after they’re on their own). It was so wonderful to hear all of his tips – I highly recommend it!

    Oh and your daughters are beautiful!!

  14. “Luck” is made much more often than it happens, and you and Greg are a great example of that. People ignore the fact that you paid your dues for years to get to this place by working your tails off. Awesome job, and I’m so happy for you!

  15. I completely agree with the Seneca quote and I think that’s exactly what you did, a proud moment I’m sure.

    1. Me too. I just don’t think luck is enough on its own. Some effort needs to be applied behind it.

  16. What’s that old Thomas Jefferson quote (at least I think it was him) that was something along the lines of “I fund the harder I work the more luck I have.” You’re absolutely right. Too many people only see the surface and consider that you must have lucked into the position, without realizing all of the crap and hard work it took to get there.

  17. I almost pinch myself sometimes because I feel so lucky, but, like you, I worked my ass off to make that luck happen. Yes, I am lucky to have my health and mind and the gift of being born somewhere that those things can allow you to get ahead. I’m not saying I’m the most successful person ever and Lord knows we’ve made our mistakes, but I do believe successful people are able to take challenges and use them to their advantage. “Lucky” people also realize that you have to wade through a lot of crap before you come out smelling like a rose. Unfortunately, most people give up and make excuses or try to pick apart your success instead of finding their own.

  18. I can understand how that drives you crazy…and love that quote about luck being preparation and opportunity. It is great that you have a flexible schedule though, especially when you have kids. Is your daughter starting kindergarten? Wow, school starts early in Indiana…it’s only August.

  19. Your daughters are simply adorable! You’ve worked hard to create an awesome work/life balance and I think that Seneca quote is a perfect distillation of what you’ve accomplished. Thanks for sharing this!

  20. It’s awesome for you to point out that it’s not really about luck, but about going for it and working hard. Winning the lottery is about luck, but busting your butt for a long time so you can eventually work from home is not luck, it’s having a plan and executing it.

  21. Yep, you post a lot…and have a great readership judging by the number of comments. Your hard work seems very rewarding from my virtual vantage point. Good job!

  22. Your daughters are beautiful!

    I know what you mean. People always say I’m lucky but I wouldn’t call this luck at all. I work hard for what I have!

  23. I know I am guilty of doing this too, but we forget how much hard work led to a person’s success. Few people are truly overnight successes. They worked hard for many years to be called an overnight success! 🙂 I still vividly remember the girls’ first day of school. It was one of my proudest and hardest moments! Your daughters are gorgeous and I’m sure your newly minted kindergartner will come with lots of great stories to tell you.

  24. I’ve always been a big believer in the luck = preparation + opportunity equation myself. And I’m glad that you were able to create your own luck to stay home and be there for your kids as you wanted.

  25. catherine says:

    Hard work does pay off 🙂 I can’t imagine the peace of mind you have knowing you’re only a phone call away! Super cute picture 🙂

  26. I love the book “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcom Gladwell. It speaks to that very specific but hard to pinpoint idea of luck, hard work and success.

    Hope the first days of school are fun!

  27. Awe that must have been bittersweet. Starting school already though? Isn’t it still a bit early? Anyway, I don’t chose the word luck, I choose grateful. Because you can be grateful in both good times and bad times, and everyone faces both. Luck to me feels more out of control.

  28. You are so right! I just started freelancing and it is hard work. Jobs don’t just fall into your lap and you have to work hard to prove yourself and your abilities. Just like you said, doing this on top of a full-time job is exhausting and I don’t even have kids! I just work, work and work some more. Between my FT job, my weekend job, my at home business, and my new freelance jobs I work probably about 60 hours a week. But I’m still looking for ways to up my freelance/online income so I can devote more time to it and quit a couple of my other, less lucrative, side hustles. It takes time and hard work, but I know I can get there!

  29. I have experienced this also that I’m so lucky to be working from home. But few people know how much I worked my butt off to make the most of the opportunities that and capitalized on. I earned my way to be where I am today and if you tell people that side of it, some find ways to diminish your efforts. I can relate to being able to be there for your family, as I am able to be at my elderly mom’s side anytime she needs me and still earn my living and that is priceless.

  30. “After a year working what amounts to two full-time jobs, my online income finally surpassed what I made at my full-time job.” It’s always great to see someone who worked hard and had it pay off. I don’t even have kids but I’m already scared that they will grow up too quick. I can only imagine what it feels like once your kids start heading to school.

  31. MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

    Well, you’re lucky to have a talent that you can work so hard at while being home for those special moments! I would love to do the same, but can’t figure what I can do well enough to make that leap!!

    My youngest headed to kindergarten on Tuesday and I find it fascinating how easily they adapt. They just learn what to do so fast! They know their routines, no matter how concerned I get! I am having the feeling of not being needed so much by them anymore. It’s bittersweet. I get a big old sigh and “MOOOOOM” when I try to sing my six year old to sleep!! So sad!
    Know that your hard work and luck are inspirational to most of us looking in from the outside!!

  32. I don’t think it’s luck at all. I think you worked hard for what you have and all of your hard work paid off. It’s so exciting that your daughter is off to school. I thought it was still summer vacation for kids?

  33. Great post Holly! I never really liked the word luck. Most luck comes from hard work up to a point when something good happens. We just attribute it wrong.

  34. I love this post. People don’t understand how hard you worked to get where you are today. I wasn’t able to do this for my daughter on her first day of school many years ago. If I was to do this for her now she will disown me as she just turned 16. On a serious note, I am lucky too because I busted my behind to save money so I could stay at home with my boys. I hear what you are saying when people tell me how lucky I am to be at home. They don’t know how we worked our butts off to save pay all our debt and save enough money so I could stay at home with the kids.

  35. Your daughters are two cuties! You’ve worked hard to get here and I don’t call that luck either but I do wish you luck with the toilet training! 😉

  36. Lisa E. @ Lisa vs. the Loans says:

    I absolutely love this post, Holly! Personally, I don’t like using the work “luck” because it belittles any hard work and self-discipline that anyone has done. Loving that quote, too – luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Without the prep work, the opportunity won’t mean anything. Very inspiring!

  37. You definitely work hard and deserve any bit of success that comes your way!

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