Let's Talk

Take Advantage of Opportunities

Years ago, my husband took a two year sabbatical from the college where he worked so we could take advantage of an opportunity to teach overseas. After the first year, his mother suffered serious health concerns requiring an early return to the states.

Upon our return, I started graduate studies for my master’s degree. Half way through my first quarter, my husband asked, “How would you like to travel with the circus for a couple of months?” He still had additional sabbatical time and had been asked to lead a circus band for a short period of time which required traveling across parts of the United States and Canada.

My first thought: I just started graduate school! I can’t leave now. However, once I knew I could skip a quarter and return full time in the fall, without it impacting my program, I asked myself “Why not?” and told my husband, “Let’s do it.”

I am goal-oriented and once made I faithfully stick to my plan of action to its completion. It was my husband who taught me that while it is important to make and follow through with our goals, sometimes life gives us opportunities we might never have again.

Since my husband was an accomplished professional musician, educator and administrator, I both respected and listened to him. I knew that he looked at opportunities within the bigger picture of well planned goals.


It was opportunity that enabled my husband to travel and play with name bands in major cities and in the recording studio. He was able to perfect his skills as a professional musician that would have otherwise been difficult. He got to travel and learned to fly an airplane.

Opportunity brought my husband and me together. It was opportunity that took us on our first trip to Europe, traveling six weeks on a shoestring to return years later to live and teach in England.

But what is opportunity? How do I recognize it? And when is it a liability instead of an opportunity?

An opportunity is a possibility that offers some kind of advantage. It holds within its tenets the ability to experience something new and exciting. It is not something you plan for, but is an option you are presented with to consider within your preset life goals. It is like a present ready to be unwrapped.

Within opportunities, we find the potential for growth that we might not have had any other way. Sometimes we are required to put on hold what we are currently doing – sometimes we can work it into our existing schedule.

I recently had the opportunity to become a part of a local theater arts production of the Wizard of Oz. I had never acted before, although I had been around the theater with my husband when he played in the orchestra. When a friend of mine, suggested doing some bit parts that didn’t require auditioning, I again said, “Why not?”

Are you taking advantage of opportunities?

Remember, opportunities are not planned and present themselves when you least expect it. Sometimes we have to say no. But if we remain open and flexible to opportunities, we can not only meet our well designed goals, but can expand our life in ways we would not have dreamed.

Are you willing to take the risk of trying something new?

©2012 Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC


Leave a Comment