It has been over four months since my company approved my leave of absence and I have been amazed at the level of support and excitement that others have shown me since then. Now that it is just over a month away, not a day goes by without someone asking me how many more days of work I have before I leave or offering an “I’m so excited for you!” These interactions remind me of how great my family and friends are, as well as how blessed I am that this leave of absence is happening.

One comment that still makes me tilt my head just a bit and raise an eyebrow, however, is the classic “you are so lucky.” Because to be frank, luck has had just as much to do with my leave of absence as any other event in my life.

In order to help dispel this mysterious idea of “luck” and provide some ideas for those of you who are seeking similar things, I want to explain some of the things that I have done over the past several years of my life to allow me to take six months to pursue my dream.

Plan Your Finances

Being financially responsible is key. I’m not sure how or when this lesson was imprinted upon me so strongly, but I believe that we are all responsible for making decisions that allow us to be financially independent and this is one of the principles that has opened many doors in my life.

You’ve heard these bits of counsel before: avoid debt, spend wisely, don’t live beyond your means, etc. These things are said often because they’re tried and true. Whenever I am invited to go somewhere or attend an event, money is always a consideration. This doesn’t always make me the most popular and sometimes has earned me the title of “being cheap” but that attitude is what has allowed me to take six months off of work in a responsible, debt-free way.

If you get nothing else from this article, get this: be smart about saving and spending.

Pursue An Education

While I do not believe that advanced education at a university is the answer for everyone, I do believe that it was necessary for me.

While at Brigham Young University, I learned how to learn and adapt and gained many skills that have allowed me to be successful. Without my degree, it would have been much more difficult for me to find a job that would pay me enough to allow me to afford the tools I need for photography and accumulate enough savings to take time off. And I certainly would have never received the job that I have now that is allowing me to leave for six months and guaranteeing me a job when I get back.

Talk About It

You aren’t the only person with a dream or aspirations for something better and talking with others about it will provide a new level of support and a mechanism to solidify your thoughts.

As I’ve built relationships and had conversations with the people around me, the amount of people who share similar thoughts and feelings has surprised me. These individuals are special and have been vital in leading me to identify the things that hold me back and providing a mutual level of support to push both of us out of our comfort zones.

Take Time to Think

Find time to sit in a quiet place and think and do it frequently. Doing so has allowed me to progress my thoughts and actions much more quickly than if I had simply allowed my time to be filled with the things in life that will unavoidably fill free time unless deliberately avoided.

Throughout any given day, we have so many voices distracting us and demanding our attention. We run from one thing to the next; from work to the grocery store, from the gym to church, from the kitchen to the laundry room. And when we’re not running from one thing to the next, we’re on Facebook, filling our small amount of free time with even more distraction.

While many of these voices and distractions are necessary, it as equally necessary to dedicate time to reflect and evaluate your life. I try to do this daily and find that I’m better able to sort my thoughts out when I take the extra effort to write them down.

Am I lucky? Sure, I’m lucky. But I’ve also done many things over the past several years that have pushed the odds in my favor.

What are the things in your life that will push the odds in your favor?