Coincidences, Synchronicity, and Serendipity

The Other Side of Productivity: Coincidences, Synchronicity, and Serendipity

“We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many books, articles and blog posts have been written on the subject of productivity. Many of these contain great advice, including things such as: check your e-mail in bulk, and only twice a day; touch each paper that comes across your desk just once; set a strict limit on the amount of time you spend on social networking sites; have clearly defined goals; break your goals down into milestones and then into small, achievable steps; schedule those steps into your day; and so on. These are all logical, linear, and progressive steps that you can, and should, take to become more productive.

However, by putting so much emphasis on the linear aspects of productivity – that is, on things such as organization and time management – the non-linear, quantum leap aspects of productivity are being neglected. The other side of productivity involves synchronicity instead of decluttering, serendipity instead of creating processes, and coincidences instead of daily planners.


“Coincidence” is defined in Wikipedia as “the noteworthy alignment of two or more events or circumstances without obvious causal connection.” Swiss psychologist Carl Jung devoted a large part of his work to the study of “meaningful coincidences”, or synchronicity, and how seemingly chance occurrences can move our lives forward significantly. Sitting at a sidewalk café you overhear a conversation at the next table which you incorporate as a brilliant plot twist in the novel you’ve been struggling to finish for the past year; a book you pick up from the discount table at your neighborhood bookstore opens to a significant passage; a missed train starts a chain of events that changes the direction of your life; and so on.


Serendipity can be described as good fortune, luck, or a fortunate accident. It’s the effect by which you accidentally discover something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely. Two examples of serendipity are: Fleming’s discovery of penicillin and the creation of the Post-It Note by a 3M research and developer.

In “Do Less, Achieve More”, Chin-Ning Chu explains that the field of quantum physics has discovered that an electron inside an atom, under the proper stimulus, instead of traveling smoothly from one orbit to another, disappears from one orbit and reappears in another. That is, it makes a quantum leap. By planning meticulously how you’re going to achieve your goals, how many calls to prospects you’re going to make each day, how much time you’re going to devote to your writing without allowing any interruptions, and so on, you’re moving forward in a linear fashion. And with discipline and consistency it’s very likely that you’ll achieve many of your life goals. However, by allowing yourself to be pulled forward by sudden, quantum leaps, you could go much farther.

Believing in the phenomenon of coincidences and serendipity does not mean that you shun work and sit cross-legged waiting for the universe to deliver your dreams to your doorstep. It simply means that you plan your days utilizing the best organization and scheduling tools, tips, and advice you can find, while leaving the door open to startling, dramatic occurrences.

Three Methods for Attracting Coincidences and Serendipity

The first thing you can do to begin attracting more coincidences into your life is to consciously expect for coincidences to happen. When they do occur, acknowledge them. As you’re writing down your goals always include the phrase “This or something better for the best of all concerned.” With this phrase you’re sending out an invitation for things even better than those that you have envisioned for yourself to come into your life.

The second thing you can do is to let go of attachment to only one outcome. A lot of people fail to notice that what they’ve been striving for is right in front of them because it doesn’t come to them in the way that they had expected and it doesn’t look exactly like what they had envisioned.

A third method is to put yourself in harmony, or create inner order; create an environment within yourself that attracts coincidences and synchronicity. You can do this through meditation, yoga, tai chi, breathing exercises, or even by spending time in mindful contemplation in nature.


By putting together the logical, methodical, step-by-step side of productivity, with the nonlinear, accidental discovery, sudden quantum leaps aspect of productivity, you can accomplish a lot more than by relying on simply one of these two aspects. Plan your day, but expect for things even better than those that you have planned to happen.

This guest article was written by Marelisa Fabrega, Founder and CEO of For more information on meditation and other techniques to live and create your optimal life, visit her squidoo lens at

Photo: igorms.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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