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Every family holiday I have ever been on I can remember hearing my father in the background saying ‘Remember to pack some swimmers’. No matter where we were going, whether it was the visiting family, going to the snow or going away for the weekend, he would make sure we packed our swimmers.
I would argue just like every other kid would. ‘I won’t need them, dad’, ‘It’s to cold for swimmers’ and then, sure enough, guess who ended up needing his swimmers?
As a kid I only saw my nagging father constantly telling me to pack swimmers. Now, at 24 years old, I picture him saying something else, ALWAYS BE PREPARED!
High school is the best time to learn the importance of preparation, but like most teenagers, I didn’t take advantage of this opportunity. Doing assignments the night before, not studying for exams, showing up late, these were common occurrences not only done by me but by a lot of students. Then there’s always those few students who put in 100%. They’re generally labeled as ‘nerds’ but looking back now I think to myself ‘They had the right idea’ and sure enough, 9 times out of 10, they’re miles ahead now. Not because they did well in exams but because they developed preparation skills at an early age.
It’s taken me years to learn the importance of preparation and during that time I’ve come to realize there’s different levels.
The first is the obvious stuff. Every time you leave the house ask yourself ‘What will I need?’. Packing enough clothes for a holiday, bringing an extra pen to an exam, taking your wallet when you go out. Things that everyone should just automatically do but a lot of us often forget.
Do you remember being in an exam and having to ask the person next to you if you could borrow a pencil or asking a friend to buy the coffee’s because you forgot your wallet. I do and every time it happens you get embarrassed. Luckily, this kind of preparation is easy to master and is a good place to start when working towards always being prepared.
The next is going above and beyond. This is critical for reaching your goals. You’ll never get ahead in life if you do the exact same amount as everyone else. Preparation is no different.
To make yourself stand out, get ahead and achieve your goals you have to do more.
If you have a meeting at 9:00am and you’re there at 8:55am, you’re late. Always be where you need to be at least 10 minutes early. There is no excuse to ever be late. I’m 24 years old now and started working at the age of 14. In those 10 years, I have never been late because I work to always being 10 minutes early. If you plan properly, you will never be late.
If you know you have a job interview in 2 weeks time, every day leading up to that interview, do some research. Study the company, what do they do? What are their goals? How can you benefit them? Another is to write down every possible question they might ask and write an answer, then read them every day.
One for university students, you know you’re going to have exams at the end of the semester. Don’t leave it till 2 weeks out to start studying. Start from week one, revise your notes, do practice questions. If you want good marks, put more effort into being 100% prepared.
This is only 3 examples but the idea is the same, BE PREPARED!
The next is a new one I am constantly being exposed to and that’s being a young, aspiring entrepreneur. There’s a whole new group of things you have to be prepared for when you decide to start a business at a young age.
If this sounds familiar, you have to be more prepared than anyone else.
You’re going to have everything pushing against you and it won’t be easy but the force can be lightened with preparation.
When starting a business you know at some point you’re going to approach potential investors, whether it’s in 1 month, 6 months or 1 year down the road. So prepare your presentation pitch now and practice it every day up until the meeting. Even if the meeting hasn’t been set, even if you have literally just began planning your new business, start now.
Another issue you are going to face with being young is you’re going to have to convince everyone. Which means you’re going to be questioned on everything, so why not get the upper hand and have an answer already prepared?
Write a list full of possible questions. “You don’t have any experience, how can you start a business” or “How can we put our trust in someone who hasn’t even got a degree?”. Whatever the questions, write them down, write an answer and memories them. Being prepared will put you ahead.
Always ask yourself ‘How can I be more prepared for tomorrow?’.
You might not be looking for a job but spend some time perfecting you’re resume. You know you’re going to need your work shirts ironed, so do them all now. You know you have an assignment in 2 weeks, so start now. The idea is to never be caught by surprise.
Being prepared is about making things easier for you. A technique I have adopted is, in addition to my weekly planner, every Sunday I write a list of every activity I need to do or have planned for that week. That way I know exactly what I need to be prepared for and when.
As always I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts. Make sure you let me know by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or commenting.