Among my favorite sayings is this: Chances aren’t given; they’re taken. I interpret that to mean you can’t stand around waiting for things to happen – to be handed to you.

Instead, you’ve got to create your future – take chances and make opportunities come your way.

Having grown up involved in 4-H and FFA, I’ve always been a self-starter. So taking chances and being proactive was pretty standard practice for me. But, I really began to recognize that “Chances aren’t given; they’re taken,” after landing my first job out of graduate school. The job was with the federal government and the salary was good. However, I didn’t feel that it was where I was meant to be long term.

So, after about a year with the government, rather than wait for a new employer to find me, I took it upon myself to research about a dozen companies that I thought I might like to work with. I then boldly put my resume and cover letter together and sent it off to those 12 companies. I didn’t wait to see if they had any open positions, I wanted to introduce myself and make them aware that I was out there. From that process, within a month I had two interviews and ultimately landed my job as an associate editor at BEEF – my dream job and the stepping stone to my career as a writer.

The lesson I learned was that if you are unhappy with something, don’t stay miserable, don’t wait for someone else to fix it; instead focus on taking action and finding solutions.

In her book Everyday Grace, Marianne Williamson says, “A life of magnitude does not just happen. It is consciously chosen.” Successful people don’t wait for opportunities to come their way – to be given to them, they go out and seek opportunities – they take risks and take the initiative.