Think back to March 2020. How many individuals and businesses wish they’d not spent that moderate-to-large amount on that discretionary purchase in February? How many businesses wished they’d have set up better remote capabilities years ago when their IT advisors suggested it? How many individuals wished they’d have set up that home office years ago instead of leaving the desk in the box waiting to be assembled? How many people wished they had some extra toilet paper?!
There’s a lesson in this: when we least need to plan and prepare, we most should be planning and preparing.
Unfortunately, hindsight is 20/20. We frequently find ourselves wishing we’d done something differently. The only solution is to increase our proactivity. But how?
The challenge seems to be that so many of us default to “busy” or reacting to the hottest fire. The solution is usually better systems. These systems include personal organization tools like calendars and to-do lists (preferably ones that actually contain 100% of our commitments), and organization systems like strategic plans, organizational charts, and emergency management plans.
The problem is that all these tools take time to create and propagate. And when we’re riding the wave of good times, we don’t want to drag ourselves down into the minutiae of preparing for bad times that may never come (but almost certainly will). So, there’s a systems element, but there’s also a psychological element.
We shouldn’t delude ourselves, though. Those individuals and companies who had plans in place, who had liquid assets on hand, and who had strategic decision-making criteria pounced in Spring 2020. So many of them grew exponentially over the following 6-18 months and continue to capitalize on those first-mover advantages today. I know this because I’m proud to work with several clients who were in that position. I won’t dare take credit for their brilliance, but I like to think that our work together helped them develop the plans, resources, and capabilities to jump on unexpected opportunities and achieve unexpected successes (and, kindly, many of them have told me that’s true).
When we delay the hard, but necessary work of getting our plans and systems in order we force our future selves to be reactive. Use the good times well…”future you” will be very grateful!
“It is precisely in times of immunity from care that the soul should toughen itself beforehand for occasions of greater stress.” -Seneca
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