Life Chances - Become A Better Version Of Yourself (Guide)

Life chances is a social science theory of the opportunities each individual has to improve their quality of life. The concept was introduced by German sociologist Max Weber. It is a probabilistic concept, describing how likely it is, given certain factors, that an individual's life will turn out a certain way. According to this theory, life chances are positively correlated with one's socioeconomic status.

Opportunities in this sense refer to the extent to which one has access to resources, both tangible ones such as food, clothing and shelter, and intangible ones such as education and health care. Life chances comprise the individual's ability to procure goods, have a career and obtain inner satisfaction; in other words, the ability to satisfy one's needs. Weberian life chances can be seen as an expansion on some of Karl Marx's ideas. 

Both Weber and Marx agreed that economic factors were important in determining one's future. Weber noted that life chances are to certain extent subjective: one's assessment of one's life chances will affect one's actions; therefore, if one believes that he/she is or can become a respected and valued member of society, that outcome and associated positive results are more likely to become a reality for such a person than they are for one without this conviction. 

Persons without such a belief, especially those who consciously espouse or have unconsciously internalized a belief to the contrary, are vulnerable to learned helplessness and its long-term effects. In terms of agency and structure, life chances represent the structure, the factors that one has no control over; whereas one's life conduct - values and beliefs, attitude to risk taking, social skills, or more generally, free willed choices about one's behavior - represent the factors one has control over. 

According to Weber theories, together with life conduct, life chances are responsible for one's lifestyle. Life chances is much more than just the first few years of life, even though these are critical. Longer term outcomes of employment and health as well as relationship formation and parenting are affected. At each life stage, people are affected by their experience and build up the skills and networks to support them in adversity.

Therefore a life chances perspective allows us to consider the entire population rather than one group or outcome. The life chances approach suggests that status is not entirely achieved, but is, to some extent, ascribed. Overall, in societies emphasizing ascription, opportunity is relatively low and status (in the sense of prestige in the community) is often inherited. 

This means that people are, effectively, given their status as a result of the group into which they are born, rather than earning it entirely on merit. Ascriptive qualities such as race/ethnicity, gender, and class of origin can all affect one’s life chances. In all societies parents pass on whatever advantages and disadvantages they have to their children.

If born into a wealthy family a person will have access to far more desirable resources that can assist them in further enhancing their life chances to a far greater extent than someone who is born into a working class family. One of these resources includes a family's social ties and the ability for a person with well connected parents to benefit greatly in the status attainment process. 

Status attainment refers to how each individual enters an occupation. This encompasses how both ascribed and achieved factors combine, because each individual enters an occupation based on the way their parents’ status produces advantages and disadvantages, their own efforts and abilities, and a degree of luck.

An additional dimension is the effect of family dynamics on life chances, such as the presence of biological parents, the quality of family relationships, and sibling configuration. For example, it has been demonstrated that children of divorced parents exhibit lower levels of psychological well-being, more problems in their own relationship, a greater risk of experiencing divorce, and also tend to be less educated.


Overcoming Bad Life Chances

Max Weber discussed the effects of social stratification on life chances. He argued that life chances are opportunities and possibilities that make up one’s lifestyle. Life chances are affected by a number of factors. Some of which include: income, social class, and occupational prestige. 

These factors all affect the availability of resources to an individual. For example, when one has low income, they have low life chances. Their education may not be as great and they may not have a high enough income to attain an advanced level of education.

Education is a major aspect of overcoming life chances. Without an education (either formal or self-taught), it is harder to obtain a job that provides a substantial income to provide for a family. The higher the your knowledge base, the higher income and occupational prestige one will have, which results in more resources for an individual and his family.

An example of improving the parents’ reading level so that they are able to teach their children how to read and write before kindergarten, allows children in lower classes to be near the same level as children who are in higher classes with higher educated parents. Early intervention will allow for children to start out their education on the right foot, with skills they’ll need to succeed and achieve a high level of education, thus improving life chances.

How one perceives their life chances is in large part determined by what one perceives their social class to be since life chances and social class go hand in hand and both reinforce each other. If you identify as low social class and believe you are most likely never going to be anything else, this will affect your life conduct in a myriad of ways. Which in turn will affect your life chances.

For one, the company you keep can lead to you networking with people that will not help you get out of a low socioeconomic environment. It can also affect your life conduct by making you think you aren’t qualified enough for anything but working class jobs. 

It can also affect your life conduct by making you think that pursuing higher education for example, is not for someone of your social standing, further ensuring that you never get above working class work.The relationship between social class, life conduct, and life chances is a strong one that time and time again decides what a person’s fate in life will be like.

Individuals with no education have lifetime earnings of approximately $58,000, whereas college graduates have life earnings of $268,000. There are also big differences when it comes to the level of education, for example, compared to the earnings of college graduates, high school graduates have a lifetime earning of only $165,000.

Therefore, if a child can stay in education long enough, he increases the life chances for himself and his family. Education provides links to better jobs, and as earning power increases, so do life chances. In 1925, in a study conducted by the United States Children’s Department, a relationship was found between infant mortality and family income. 

As family income decreased, infant mortality increased. For example, fathers whose incomes were $450 per year or under showed infant mortality rate of 167 per thousand as compared to 59 per thousand of the fathers who had an annual income of $1,250. It has also been found that income has a relationship with your ultimate wellbeing.

It has generally been the case that the higher the income, the lower the mental disturbance rate. More mental disturbance is found in low-wage earners rather than high-wage earners. A study in Connecticut found that the wealthiest class in a certain city only made up one percent of the disorders under psychiatric care, whereas the labouring class (unskilled and semi-skilled labourers) made up thirty seven percent of patients under psychiatric care. 

This supports the notion that chances for mental health are greatly determined by finances. Life expectancy (1997-99) for professional males was 7.4 years more than unskilled manual males. For women, the expectancy was 5.7 years more for professional women. Smoking rates (1998-99) was lower in male professionals (13%) than in unskilled manual males (44%). Infant mortality (2001) was found to be 3.6 per 1000 births for professional compared to 6.7 for unskilled manual workers.

As it has been established, education is very closely linked with occupation which in turn affects life-chances. In order for things to change in your life, in order to get where you want to be, you have to grow into the person who is ready for that change.


Why Is Personal Development Critical To Success? Here are three specific ways focusing on self-improvement can change your life:

It Presents You With New Opportunities:

Growth in yourself eventually leads you to new opportunities, opportunities that don’t come about until you grow into the person who is ready for them. All you have to do is focus on self-improvement—start by reading personal development articles, books, blogs—and implement the things you learn into your own life.

It Increases Your Self-esteem To New Levels:

Self-confidence is ultimately the starting point to following your dreams—you have to believe in yourself and your dreams enough to go after them. As you grow, you’re will be able to build up that mindset. Becoming a better version of yourself is the main goal of self-improvement—to improve in your job, your business and your relationships. 

Whatever area of your life you’re working on, that’s part of growing as a person. You have to constantly look at what you can improve and have the awareness to know what needs to be done to do it. To get started, reflect on the notable experiences and events of the past year. You might make a month-to-month timeline, or you can do it by category, such as Work, Health & Fitness, Relationships, Finances, Home etc. 

Make a list of what you achieved, whether it was on your to-do list or not. Make a list of the challenges, struggles, and conflicts you endured. Then ask yourself the following questions and write down your answers:

What can I keep doing to ensure my success?

What did I do differently or better?

Reflect on your good and bad experiences, including the whens, the whys, the hows, and what role you played in the outcomes. Making a list of your struggles can be especially rewarding, because they may reveal where you’ve made the biggest strides.

Climbing the ladder of success requires dedication, perseverance and genuine passion for the work you do. Striving to improve your knowledge and understanding within your profession is an essential part of advancement as well, so it is important to recognize the importance of self-motivation.

Matching the right career to your individual strengths and employment objectives starts with a realistic look at the personal features you bring to the table. Just as positive life changes leads to a good employment fit, continued personal improvement is the key to keeping your class on a successful trajectory. 

 And you can’t always rely on structured employer incentives to move yourself forward. Instead, use the power of self-improvement to launch the initiative yourself, ensuring upward mobility as you better yourself alongside career growth.


Personal betterment fuels ongoing success, opening career doors and boosting self-confidence. Maintaining a positive self-image itself promotes advancement, as peers perceive you as a go-to player in your field. By continuing to improve your knowledge base and understanding, it is possible to increase productivity as well, leading to professional breakthroughs and room for advancement.

Self-improvement simply supports your ability to perform within your field, illustrating your potential and furnishing plenty of reasons to move your career forward. Each individual has a unique set of goals and personal expectations, so making the most of your circumstances requires a custom-tailored approach. There are, however, universal strategies for improving yourself and your ability to thrive professionally.

Use These Approach To Enhance Prospects:

Continuing Education – Whether formally mandated by your profession or self-inspired, ongoing professional education keeps you on top of the latest trends and practices in your field. Over time, accumulated wisdom helps you stand out among your peers, contributes to positive life changes.

The path to a better life is not always linear. At times, improving yourself means changing directions midstream, allowing aptitude and potential to guide you; rather than preconceived notions about how your career should unfold.

Cultivate Forward Thinking – Moving your life forward requires progressive thought, which can be difficult to mobilize during trying times. To end up where you want to be, see yourself there first.

While the recipe for success is not necessarily the same for everyone, proven practices aid personal development; increasing your chances of achieving greatness. Whether through education, motivation or inspiration, self-improvement drives success.

Maintaining a positive self-image itself promotes advancement, as peers perceive you as a go-to player in your field. By continuing to improve your understanding of the field you work in, it is possible to increase productivity as well, leading to professional breakthroughs and room for advancement.

What Can You Gain From Self Development?

Developing weaknesses, nurturing strengths;
Treating hurdles and barriers as challenges;
Recognizing that we can improve and develop;
Putting in the effort in order to develop ourselves;
Giving ourselves the time necessary to develop;
Seeing the opportunities and possibilities in life for what they are;
Putting some time and effort into our lives to make them better;
Realizing that growth and development can be fun.

What Can Positive Life Chances And Growth Do For You?
  • Increased self confidence
  • Boosted self motivation
  • Improved self image
  • Greater self worth

Positive life chances enhances your experience and quality of life.

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