- A version of this post first appeared on zzoccolante.com.
French microbiologist Louis Pasteur once said that, “Chance favors the prepared mind.”
It goes to reason then that without preparation, the odds aren’t in our favor.
This lesson was apparent when I took a small vacation to San Diego. The last few times I’d traveled I over-packed. This time, as I removed items from my travel bag, I congratulated myself for traveling light.
As the first evening in San Diego rolled around, we stopped near a set of cliffs overlooking the ocean, and I was in trouble. The wind surged up the rocks and I was instantly chilled to my bones. I didn’t want to wait in the car, especially since my friend was visiting from Alaska where everything is ACTUALLY cold.
The only downside of me growing up on a tropical island is my body’s intolerance for temperatures below seventy degrees. Adding cold wind to chilled temperatures feels like nature is plotting to destroy my sanity and kill me.
I pulled on my long sleeve shirt, my running jacket, my sweater, a scarf, and even the pair of mittens and the beanie that have a permanent home in my purse. Nothing worked. My body signaled me that it was too late.
Later, after I warmed up, I reflected on how being cold kept me from genuine connection with friends, and from being interested and curious. I only wanted to be warm.
Why didn’t I bring one of the many coats that were in my closet at home? Why did I bring only a thin jacket and a sweater with large holes in it? Why didn’t I come prepared?
I flash back to girl scouts, remembering how I wanted to be in boy scouts instead. They learned cool things like how to build fires and tie knots. I’d scour through my brother’s books practicing knots with shoelaces from a kitchen drawer. I memorized his troops motto, which I can still recite.
The first two words of it were, “READY TO . . .” and then they listed all the things they were ready to do.
If we are ready to do things, it means that we are PREPARED.
Being prepared translates directly to our lives, especially to our goals and dreams. Sometimes we must prepare for years before we get the big break we’ve dreamed of. If an opportunity comes around and we don’t have the skills we need, then it might pass us by.
Others don’t see the hours, months, or even years of work that’s been done behind the scenes. All people see is this moment. It’s in this moment, when the work you did or didn’t do while no one was watching, will make the difference right now. You will have success or be left with a sad realization.
It’s similar to packing for a trip. You wouldn’t say, “Rad. I’m going to Costa Rica,” buy a ticket and get on the plane. You must do research, put in vacation time at work, ask Betty if she will feed and walk Fido, make sure you have proper paperwork, get the needed shots, etc. Then you have to pack.
The smallest things can make a big difference, like being up in the-middle-of-nowhere-mountains, and realizing you don’t have a toothbrush, or that you forgot your underwear or your tiny, neon pink malaria pills.
That’s why we prepare. That’s why we pack before taking a trip. That’s why we do things everyday towards our goals and dreams.
It’s important to consistently prepare, especially when no one is watching. One day our magical opportunity will come around, and it will show if we’ve been using our time wisely.
In memory of my chilly mistake, I’ve already made a metal list of required items for each subsequent travel. A warm coat is now required, because I’d rather be prepared and enjoy the awesome experiences, than be miserable and cold.
What area of your life, goals, or dreams do you say is important, but haven’t given time to lately?
What could you do daily to move this area, goal, or dream forward? (Even if it’s only a few focused minutes each day.)
As Zig Ziglar said, “Radical changes are made in minute steps.”
Daily preparation makes us well prepared. Be prepared to shine!
Also by Z: Why Struggling is Sometimes a Good Thing
Photo: fortherock via Flickr