2 Processes You Can Use To Increase Your Opportunities

Get what you need, before you need it.

In your quest for success, you have no doubt encountered two quotes:

”Failing to plan is planning to fail”
”Success is when preparation meets opportunity”

These quotes are frequently listed and repeated in goal setting programs. The first quote is a warning.  It suggests that if you do not plan ahead, you are by default making a plan to fail. The second is a promise of sorts…you will be successful when an opportunity presents itself and you are prepared to take action on the opportunity. But each quote tells only half the story.

Preparedness Increases Opportunities

Preparedness is a state of being. The higher one’s preparedness level, the more success one will achieve.  For example:

In school, you are either prepared to take the exam or you aren’t.  The level to which you study will determine your level of success on the exam.

You can be prepared to handle an extended power outage at home or be left scrambling to come up with options once the power is out.

Preparedness for storms or for other life events requires planning and preparation together. It does not matter if you are preparing for emergency situations or a new career opportunity. It does not matter if you are not typically a “detail person.”

You can still increase your preparedness. Whatever your goal, plan and prepare. The two quotes at the top of this article focus on planning and preparation respectively. People tend to make planning and preparation synonymous, yet each process produces different results.

The process of planning produces a plan.

The process of preparation produces resources and skills.

Put simply, you could plan your meals for the week ahead, but if you have not prepared by shopping for the food, it’s unlikely the plan will help you eat for the week. So it’s imperative that you do both-planning and preparation.  In doing so you benefit from the increased capability to take action on opportunities.  Here are some steps to follow.

Increase your opportunities with these steps

I. Get a clear picture of the outcome you want.

II. Make a plan for achieving the outcome.

III. Prepare by collecting the required items (education, experience, physical items, etc) you will need but do not yet have.

IV. Recognize opportunities that are helpful and not helpful.

Planning yields a plan

The planning process produces a plan. Plans do not need to be elaborate. For example, when making a shopping list (a shopping plan) you build a guide to direct your efforts at the supermarket.  You might even picture yourself doing the shopping and collecting the items in the order you expect to find them as you shop, aisle by aisle. This is a plan and it guides your spending and ensures you collect what you need. The planning process uses steps, I. and II., from above and the resulting plan provides you with guidance:

I. Get a clear picture of your goal.

Why are you doing this planning.  What outcome are you seeking? For whom are you doing this planning? How will it help them?

In your mind, project yourself into the situation for which you are planning.  Rehearse what you can do and what you will not be able to do if you were actually at that point.  In our extended power outage example, you might recognize that you won’t be able to keep frozen food from thawing.

List these and anything else you will need in order to perform or achieve your goal.  Come up with possible solutions for handling these things.  These answers give you motivation to do effective planning and will guide your preparation efforts later.

Knowing what you will need may require some additional research.  For example, if you plan to attend graduate school in a particular discipline, you would need to learn the acceptance criteria for graduate school admittance. Add this list of acceptance criteria to your plan.

II. Make the plan.

The previous step allowed you to picture it all in your head. This step is your rehearsal on paper.

Write down the goals you’ve visualized.  Break them down into steps and come up with a roadmap you’ll follow on your way to fulfilling the goal.  Most people do not do this. So they become easily distracted or frustrated with their lack of results.

Progress towards your goal will take discipline. Your plan will help you filter out distractions and filter in helps. Check out Develop Your Plan.

Preparation is action taken on a plan

In our shopping list example, you take your shopping list and gather the items on the list at the supermarket. Perhaps you brought a coupon from home and now recognize the opportunity for savings.

When preparation occurs without a plan, your efforts could be duplicative, wasteful, and risky. How many times have you gone into the supermarket and picked up items you never intended to get in first place?

A better example from practice is how people prepare for a coming storm. Because people do not plan, most people are not prepared for storms. 60% of Americans believe preparing for natural or man-made disasters is very important…yet only 17% claim to be very prepared. [1] You witness this fact every time the local news warns of an expected a storm.

On the warning, people head to the store to buy “necessary supplies.” In some instances, the news broadcast even reminds which items to ensure you have on hand; batteries, water, etc. The problem is everyone else is doing the same thing and local supplies run out.

Had the people used the process of planning, they would most likely already have prepared by gathering the “necessary supplies” before the need became urgent.

Unfortunately the only plan most people have is no plan at all. They are more content to simply shop when the time comes. As a result, they are not prepared and risk not having what they need when they need it.

By contrast, preparation is action you take to gather necessary resources and skills and uses steps III. and IV. from above.

III. Take action on the plan.

Take action as outlined in your plan, do the work of each step, acquire the knowledge, develop skills, arrange for the supplies, etc.

In the preparation stage rehearsal may take the form of testing, like conducting a fire drill in your home.

In planning, you visualized everyone exiting the home safely; in planning you came up with an escape route and meeting area. But in preparation you told all family members the details of the plan. Now you rehearse it. By doing so, you see opportunities to improve the plan or to validate its helpfulness.

IV. Recognize opportunities.

Opportunities are enhanced with planning because planning helps you anticipate needs.

In a sense you become more attuned to what you need and you keep a clearer lookout for it. You may have noticed that you barely notice a certain car model on the road until you purchase that same model…now you see the car on the road all the time. You are more attuned to watch for it.

Similarly, opportunities are enhanced with preparation because you have improved your situation from an education, skill, or experience standpoint or you have the resources (e.g., money, supplies, a network of people) you need to effectively deal with a situation.

When opportunities come up you are now able to take advantage of them because you have completed the prerequisite work of planning and preparation.

We at Beforeyouneed.com, wish you much success in your planning and preparation. You will increase your opportunities for success as a result.

Ready to get started?  Sign-up below and receive Your Journey to Success reference guide.  It will help walk you through the journey of planning and preparing.

Also, check out more about planning here.  Check out more about preparation here.  Welcome to www.beforeyouneed.com!

Author:  Paul LaPointe is host and frequent contributor for beforeyouneed.com
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Preparation Enhances Your Capabilities

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