Always come prepared.
I’m convinced this phrase exists to some extent or another in every language.
The need to control our surroundings is basic human nature, and the best way to manage this need is to always come prepared for all outcomes of a situation. How else do you think first aid kits, five year plans, and pre-packaged food came about?
We are resolved to never be caught off-guard, so we spend our time determining the details to ensure that life happens just exactly as we planned.
But what if, for once in your life, you decided to come unprepared.
No, I’m not suggesting showing up to school without pants on - that idea belongs to your middle school nightmares. What I am suggesting is to allow yourself, every so often, to override your ingrained need for control and instead let yourself figure it out as you go.
Let me take a moment to tell you a story.
Two weeks ago I had a group of Germans all decked out in costume for carnival, with beers in hand no less, ask me if I wanted to take a road trip with them to Austria to go skiing the following week.
Immediately my mind started gathering all of the reasons I could give to say no - I didn’t have ski gear, I had only just met the guys, I didn’t speak German, etc. But as I sat there trying to pick the best justification for turning down the offer, I stole a second to let myself wonder what it would be like if I actually said yes instead.
Sure, I was about as unprepared for a ski trip to the Austrian Alps with a group of near strangers as one could be, but that didn’t mean the idea of me going was completely impossible…
Well as I am sure you have guessed by now, that second I stole turned into five days spent skiing (sometimes face-planting) down glaciers, huddling by the fire in an old family cabin straight out of a fairytale, and trying not to laugh at giant German men saying ‘schnee’.
Thanks to borrowed ski gear and some really awesome people, I got to go on a ski holiday of a lifetime, even though at first it had seemed logistically impossible.
I share this story not because I think everyone should befriend a German to go skiing with (although I do highly recommend it), but rather for the message behind it:
Don’t mistake unprepared for impossible.
This goes for anything in life really.
Whether you’re applying for your dream job, planning your next getaway, or thinking of switching yoghurt brands, you can only prep so much. You’re never going to be one hundred percent ready, and that’s ok.
In fact, that’s a good thing.
Because when you’re unprepared but have the guts to show up anyway, that is when you get the chance to truly grow. You’re forced to become resourceful, as you don’t have any other option than to turn your problems into opportunities. In this process you discover you really do have what it takes to make it work, whatever it is.
Another great side effect of coming unprepared is you get to learn just how amazing other people can be.
We have the habit - I’m particularly guilty of this one - of forgetting that we are not alone in life, and, even more so, that we really can’t do this life alone. We need other people in our lives to help us succeed and to simply be happy.
So sometimes showing up unprepared and forcing yourself to rely on others is exactly the reminder you need to show yourself that no matter what, you are human.
And humans need other humans - it really is that simple.
In summary, being practical in life is a good thing, but don’t ever let that get in the way of actually living.
So the next time you are faced with making a decision between playing it safe and going for it, don’t ask yourself if you are ready to take the leap.
Ask yourself how soon you can jump.