How To Be Prepared For Anything: Murphy’s Law For Real Life

Originally written by Kory Osigian at OneBrickADay

Whatever can go wrong, will.
-Murphy’s Law

Murphy’s Law is a principle that we can apply during any kind of planning process, from military operations to grocery store trips.

Murphy’s Law is the art of worrying. It teaches you to be forward thinking and prevent difficulties in completing your plan. You can keep from ever getting caught off guard by always expecting the worst. Two keys to Murphy’s law are Contingency Plans and Multiple Lines of Attack.

Contingency Plans

Expect the unexpected.

If your best case scenario doesn’t work out, that’s okay, because you have plans B, C, and D on standby. Contingencies are alternate courses of action.

Let’s say you planned on taking a date to an outdoor concert. After you pick her up from her place, it starts to rain and the concert is cancelled.

The average Joe would be screwed, but you aren’t phased, because you planned ahead.

You pivot to plan B, which is taking her bowling at Main Event. You get to Main Event but find that it is too crowded, the wait for a lane would be over two hours. Most people would throw in the towel and give up, but not you, because you have a Plan C, a movie in theaters.

So what should have been a disaster of a date actually turns out to be a great night, because you planned contingencies. Even your backup plan had backups. Your bench was deep and you expected things to go wrong.

Since you were forward thinking, the pivots on your date went a lot smoother. Use contingencies to prepare for potential problems.

Multiple Lines of Attack

Lines of Attack is military talk for “way to do something.” Having several options gives you the flexibility. You have a plan because you are trying to reach a certain goal, but the plan can be adjusted change as long as the goal is still reached in the end.

To explain I’ll go deep into my military roots and use the example of a castle siege, stay with me.

Imagine you are the attacking army and want to take over a defended castle. There are several ways you can go about doing this. You could scale the wall with ladders, break the gate with a battering ram, starve out the defenders, or tunnel under the wall. (Yes, I watched a lot of Lord of the Rings as a kid, stop judging me.) One of these courses of action may be more preferable than the others, but you have all of them at your disposal.

That way, if the first method you try doesn’t work, you can just shift your energy to a different option and follow through with the attack.

A real world example could be getting to the airport. You could get there by taking a bus, getting an Uber, asking a friend to take you, or parking your own car at the airport. You have plenty of options so if your prefered method doesn’t work out you just use a different one.

The more options you give yourself going into an endeavor, the more prepared you are to overcome setbacks.

Real World Examples

Prepare for potential problems, expect the unexpected. Here are a few examples of everyday planning that takes Murphy’s Law into account:

  • Keep a cell phone charger in your car, so you’ll never get stranded with a dead phone.
  • Bring an umbrella with you in the morning, it might be rainy in the afternoon.
  • Homework due Monday? Complete it Saturday. Something might come up on Sunday.
  • Have some money set aside as a “rainy day fund”. You might have unexpected car trouble or medical bills.
  • Print two copies of that report, you might spill coffee on the first one.
  • Always leave your house 5 minutes earlier than you think you need to. Factor in the extra time so that when you forget your wallet, get stuck in traffic, or make a wrong turn, you can adjust and still be punctual.

In life, things rarely go as planned. Successful people understand this and prepared ahead.
Having a firm belief in Murphy’s law will help you excel while others struggle.


Action Steps:

  • Think of a recent situation that this exercise could have helped with.
  • Post that situation in the comments and how you could have handled it better
  • Share this post if you found it helpful so others can see it!
  • Check out my blog for more ways to become your best self at OneBrickADay.