Luck is an interesting concept. To be lucky is to have greater odds of success in some directive, while to be unlucky is to have lower odds of success in the same directive, yet there is nothing tangible about luck. Many people ascribe luck as a factor in their successes or failures as some random element, which mysteriously yet profoundly influences their eventual outcomes.

Under the definition above, it is true that luck has an influence on your eventual success in any endeavor. After all, the concept of luck is just an acknowledgement that your decisions are at least partially influenced by chance, and this is true no matter what the situation. However, there are ways that you can actually increase your luck by creating situations and circumstances where the odds lean slightly in your favor. Here's how:

1. Face Your Fears. You've likely heard the expression "fortune favors the bold," and it's little wonder why the phrase has become so popular. Individuals who make bold decisions or take big risks are more likely to experience luck than those who remain indecisive or take the path of least resistance. This is, in part, due to our psychology. When facing a risky decision, our minds tend to imagine the worst-case scenario. When we face our fears and go through with the decision, the end results are rarely the worst-case scenario, and even less-than-stellar outcomes are seen as decent. Otherwise, indecision does nothing for you, and by comparison, the bold decision makers seem far luckier. Face your fears and make bold decisions.

2. Know the Odds. You can also improve your luck simply by knowing the odds. If you don't know what the chances of success are, you might find yourself to be unlucky if you experience failure. On the other hand, if you know proactively that your chances of failure are 80 percent, you'll be less likely to make that decision (and likely fail) in the first place. If you alter situations and improve yourself so that the majority of your decisions have odds of success in your favor, it stands to reason that you'll experience success a greater number of times. The trick is to do as much research as you can for major decisions, so you know the full scope of the odds that you're facing.

3. Plan for Contingencies. In business and in our personal lives, there are always possible disasters waiting around the corner. You can't control whether or not disaster will strike; you can only control whether or not you're prepared for it. When disaster does strike, the individuals prepared for it always seem luckier than those who aren't prepared. However, this isn't a product of luck; it's a product of preparation. You can, therefore, increase your relative luckiness simply by preparing for contingencies. Always think about the worst-case scenario, consider the possible disasters that could sneak up on you, and have a plan in place for each of them. If disaster never comes, consider yourself lucky. If disaster does strike, you'll be lucky to have been prepared.

4. Surround Yourself With Friends. Make contacts whenever you can. The wider your network of friends, acquaintances, and professional contacts, the luckier you're going to feel. Imagine a situation where a friend wins four tickets to see your favorite band and that friend invites you--you would consider yourself lucky. The odds for this and similar scenarios multiply with each friend you have. On the other side, if disaster befalls you or if you're going through a tough time, you'll have more people who are willing to help you get back on your feet with job opportunities, advice, or emotional support. It's a kind of social karma--the friendlier you are to others, the friendlier they'll be to you.

5. Be Open to New Opportunities. Lucky people tend to be open to new experiences and new opportunities. They have a "why not?" mentality that drives them to take action, make decisions, and take calculated risks. These types of people tend to feel and seem luckier than the types of people who sit idly and let life pass them by. It's easier to find new opportunities when you're wandering around than it is when you're standing in one place, and when those opportunities do come around, you'll consider yourself lucky for having found them.

6. Be Optimistic. Optimism shouldn't be underestimated in calculating luck. The more optimistic you are, the luckier you're going to feel; all your successes will seem more successful, and you'll be able to see a silver lining in practically all of your failures. If you're feeling doubtful, remember that you can train your brain to be optimistic. All it takes is a regular dose of positive thinking. Instead of thinking about all your problems, think about potential solutions. Instead of thinking about the worst elements of life's latest surprise, think about all the best elements. Soon, you'll be seeing everything in a much more positive light, and you'll feel luckier as a result.

Using these strategies, you can positively increase your luck in all matters, both personal and professional. Understand that luck is an abstract concept and can't be empirically measured, but the subjective experience of luck can be improved through simple changes to your mentality and your approaches to certain situations. When you feel luckier, you'll experience more success, and even your failures won't feel so bad.

Published on: Mar 17, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.