4 Powerful Benefits to Being Prepared
Lack of preparation can often lead to great disappointment and failure. Discover these four benefits of preparation
How good are you at being prepared? Are you extremely self-disciplined and ready for every contingency or are you more of a go with the flow type and consider being prepared as a useless concept?
It was while walking on a beautiful autumn day through the moor near my home that I realised was doing everything backwards. In South Africa we say, “You have done things arse about face.” This means you have attempted to do things backwards, not in their right order, been ill prepared, and this is exactly how it was for me on that day. It was a glorious day. As far as the eye could see the sky was azure blue, many people were out, all was well with the world, but I had totally underestimated the weather on that day. Before leaving home, I had not ventured outside to see how cold it was and arriving on the moor, which is normally 3ᵒC colder than where I live, I was completely unprepared.
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail — Benjamin Franklin
There I was wearing a T-Shirt and a waterproof jacket, but this was insufficient to keep me warm. I was reminded of how we often live our lives totally unprepared. We might want to take on a major or seemingly inconsequential task but not have the foresight or inspiration to prepare for it.
Think of how often you have been unprepared. That meeting, the interview, the dinner, that relationship ending, a change in health status, the passing of a loved one or even winning the lotto… Were you prepared?
We all know that once the water has run downstream we can’t get it back. Likewise when we are unprepared, we have lost the opportunity, squandered the moment.
We know that life is spontaneous and seemingly random at times and there are many things that take us by surprise that we never see coming or that we can’t prepare for. I am also a firm believer in being flexible and not trying to control everything or being too rigid about things, but on the other hand, when we are well prepared, we can easily jump to Plan B if needed or practice flexibility and adapt when circumstances change.
Returning to my story of my moor walk, on that day, I had no scarf, gloves, or hat with me. Fortunately, I had thrown a fleece buff into the car so I was able to pull it over my neck and head, almost strangling myself in the process, but nevertheless generating some warmth for myself. Perhaps if I had been better prepared I would have enjoyed my walk more. I would have been able to take my time, spend more time outdoors, and not have to rush in order to return to the warmth of my car.
Success is where preparation and opportunity meet — Bobby Unser
You may be asking yourself what is the point of this story, well I think the point I would like to make is that preparation is an essential, often neglected, part of life. Practicing the art of preparation allows us to hone four key skills in my opinion.
Being Prepared Enhances Self Discipline
In this sense, I am talking of the discipline of having a routine or habit, not the discipline to control or regulate, although forming a good habit is a form of self-control and regulation.
When we routinely prepare ourselves for the predictable or unexpected events in our lives, we enhance our own self-discipline. In my opinion, self-discipline is one of the foundations to living a happy life. The act of becoming prepared means that we discipline ourselves to make the time to prepare. We get over the feeling of “I don’t feel like doing this now” we put off procrastination, we dump the excuses and we become mindful with what we are doing and ourselves.
Being Prepared Enhances Our Strategic Thinking
If you’re like me, as you are preparing for that meeting, vacation, or dinner with a friend you are having an internal dialogue with yourself. You may be thinking of the meeting agenda, or the presentation you have to give, you may be thinking of what you need to prepare for your vacation all the tasks you need to complete, what to pack in your suitcase, check your travel insurance etc.
The more complex the task, the higher degree of strategic thinking is required. None of us is born master strategic thinkers; it’s a skill that is born through practice and experience. Regardless of what you are preparing for, you can hone this skill. Unbelievably as you look out your window each day before you dress, your brain has already thought a thousand strategic thoughts in preparation for getting you to your destination appropriately clothed, dry, on time and in one piece. We may not always recognise our thoughts as being strategic but each act of preparation is honing these skills.
Being Prepared Increases Our Flexibility
If you are self-disciplined and open to thinking strategically there is a possibility that your thought processes will expand with fluidity and flexibility. Not everyone who is self-disciplined and thinks strategically is able to be flexible in his or her behaviour but this is a skill that we develop.
So think about it. You are preparing for a customer presentation, you know what they expect, what you can offer and yet while hoping that it will run smoothly you are aware that problems may arise. Therefore, part of your preparation will be to look at those potential hiccups and do some scenario planning. As you work through different scenarios, you will prepare for different outcomes. This is flexibility and it is the foolhardy who are unprepared for change or unwilling to be flexible. By preparing to be flexible, we are also building a critical trait to have, namely resilience.
Being Prepared Develops Our Resilience
Resilience is that ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens. As we develop all our other skills, we often spend little time developing that of resilience.
Unless you have done the preparation, thought it through, evaluated all the known scenarios you will always be shocked by the unforeseen or by failure. It is in preparation that we develop our mental resilience and it is through failure that we develop a life of resilience. We all know that not every plan leads to success and it is through failure that we reach success, but often being unprepared leads to a bitter taste in the mouth.
Having resilience allows us to stand up eight times after we’ve been knocked down seven and to continue on our course, making adjustments and realignments.
Before anything else, preparation is the key to success — Alexander Graham Bell
Take a moment to consider how you go about your daily life. Are you missing out on some wonderful opportunities because you are not preparing yourself sufficiently? Do you always repeat the same “mistakes” because you resist preparation?
I encourage you to think about these four powerful benefits to being prepared and consider if you can implement them in your life in a consistent and sustainable way.
Leave a comment on how you practice the art of being prepared, I would love to hear from you.