I hear my mind tell me – Dig your well before you need water. This is another way of saying that the best time to prepare for your opportunities is before they come not when they come. Prepare in advance
I have come to understand that this will require the ability to take a long term view of our lives and the discipline to align our daily actions with that big picture.
Our motto should be Carpe Diem: seize the day.
How I wish this was easy and a reflection of my daily life.
Most of us can claim to have some vision for our future. But I often wonder why it is easier to drift by, hoping that by some magic we will suddenly happen upon the future. What about that observation that the future you do not actively prepare for is the one that will surprise you?
I try not to think about it but I’m wondering – what are the consequences of arriving at the future, discovering my opportunities and finding myself unprepared for my moments of greatness?
Then I remember Abraham Lincoln’s words, “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”
This means that today is the best time to prepare for the future I desire. Hope alone is not a strategy for living a life filled with minimal regrets and maximum impact.
So what can we do to prepare for our future greatness and minimize our regrets?
1. Value Today
I must admit how numb I can be to how I use my days. One habit I’m trying to acquire is ability to estimate the compound effect of my daily actions on my future.
I can’t afford to be casual especially when I remember Anthony Robbins’s insight, “In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.”
Again Carpe Diem – seize the day, make the most of the present.
What we do today matters. Don’t fill your today with folly and wishing tomorrow to redeem it. The greatest wisdom is demonstrated in our ability to align our daily actions with the result or goals we want to achieve.
2. Be careful about your winters
Your winters represent the seasons of your life when inaction is justifiable and the consequences of being casual and getting by seems barely noticeable. This is where the counsel is necessary – Prepare even when you don’t feel like it, even when you don’t feel the need it and can’t see the immediate benefit.
There is actually no time that you don’t need preparation. There is actually no time for holiday in the school of preparation.
Destiny is often delayed especially among young people because we go on vacation in the seasons where we need the most preparation and that season is now. Maximize your 20s if your 30s will be fruitful. Maximize your 30s if your 40s will be fruitful.
3. Don’t Confuse information with knowledge or Decision
Information is a very significant tool in the school of preparation but it is not all there is to it. Action Matters more for information to achieve its potential.
Just because we know what we should be doing does not mean we will do it. Just because we have information does not mean our lives will be transformed. Until we act, we do not really know.
The goal of knowledge is action and transformation. Your most transformative experiences will come from doing what you know.
Trust me, you and I need a lot of knowledge. But if we are sincere with ourselves we know a lot more than we do. I’m sure if I do something with all that I know, my life would be in a far better place.
4. Never Give Excuses
“There is always a way if you are committed.” said Anthony Robbins.
We can never excuse ourselves to greatness. It is time for us to embrace responsibility for our past and for the future.
The best place to kill our excuses is on the altar of the present. The past or whatever came with it is not a valid limitation at least not for long. Ask yourself if your excuses today will matter one year down the line.
I often find that it is easy to get into an insidious yet vicious form of procrastination – busyness without productivity. This is another way of saying that your activities are many but not tied to the result you want to create in your life. For this, I admit that attention and daily course corrections is necessary.
5. Guard Your Spare Time
Oswald Sanders says it succinctly, “Habits are formed in youth that make or mar a life. Leisure hours constitute a glorious opportunity or a subtle danger. Each moment of the day is a gift from God and should be husbanded with miserly care, For time is life measured out to us for work.” What more can be added?
6. Dedicate Time To Self – Renewal
This is what Stephen Covey calls “sharpening the saw”. I believe we must dedicate time to self-renewal in all the critical areas of our lives that matter. We must take time to understand the big picture and to focus on the things that matter.
Self-renewal can mean adequate rest and relaxation. It can means nurturing the mind with information. It can mean investing in our significant relationships. It can means practising and strengthening our skills.
7. Follow Your Own Advice
This is perhaps the last and most important tip. We all know the right thing to do. When are we going to start doing it?
The greatest form of preparation is to live what we preach.
To cultivate a life in alignment with the highest and best that we know, for me is the best and highest form of preparation.
Who needs this counsel the most? Obviously the one doing the writing. And you the reader are not an exception.
Too weak to prepare? Pray: “Lord, help me to prepare for what you have prepared for me.”