Proper Preparation is Paramount to Prosperity - Smart Money Seed

9/28/17

Proper Preparation is Paramount to Prosperity

We've all had some variation of the same recurring nightmare when stress starts to creep into our lives. You wake up late for class, frantically throw on your clothes, and sprint to your classroom. You manage to be just a few minutes late, but what is the first thing you see on the projector when you walk in?

Immediately you realize that you completely forgot about the exam and didn't study for a second. As the professor lays your copy on your desk, you start sweating profusely as you try to rack your brain for anything you might have paid attention to during class.

If you're lucky, you wake up at that point. If you're unlucky, you woke up 10 minutes ago and this isn't just a dream. In either case, you begin to worry about what you could possibly have done to prevent that treacherous situation.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!

The answer, of course, is relatively simple. Once you have goals set for yourself, whether they are getting a decent grade on your next exam or becoming the next CEO of Apple, preparation is the most important key to giving you the best shot at success. And the amount of preparation you do will determine the degree to which you are able to achieve that success.

To understand the importance of preparation, take a look at any athlete, especially professional and college athletes. A college football team that spends no time practicing whatsoever and shows up to their first game on Saturday totally unprepared. Even if that team had an incredibly talented coach and group of players, they would get demolished. That's why college football teams spend 20 hours per week practicing for a game that will last less than 4 hours.

Although the team that practices for 20 hours a week would most likely be able to look like a real football team during the game, how successful do you think that team would be? Have you ever heard of a coach who is content with his players putting in the minimum required effort? Of course not! Preparation is not a standard check box or Yes/No answer. More preparation generally equals more success, and the team with players that prepare in the weight room, in their conditioning, and with their diets in the off-season will be giving itself the best chance at success the following season.

Hey Alex, We're Not College Football Players

Okay fine, I'll stop with my sports infatuation and try to make this a little more relatable. Most of my time especially since high school has been focused on achieving success in the classroom and in my career. I've learned the hard way time and time again that preparation is incredibly important to my success in both areas.

When I started at Ohio State in 2011, I thought I was working incredibly hard. I was getting all my assignments done and even doing some voluntary homework from time to time. I would even go to office hours occasionally when I was stuck on an assignment. Everyone tried to drill it into me and my classmates that we would have to work much harder in college than we did in high school, and I thought that was exactly what I was doing.

After riding high and feeling confident for a few weeks, midterm week rolled around. I studied maybe a couple hours each for my biology and calculus midterms which I thought was more than enough considering I would study for maybe 30 minutes for tests in high school. Holy shit was I wrong. 

That D on my first biology midterm hit me like a cold splash of water in a deep sleep. Then once I woke up, the knockout punch from the miserable failure (we're talking like 20% or less) on the calculus exam left me feeling completely defeated. How could this happen? The answer was simple: lack of preparation.

I recovered quickly from the biology grade to pull off an A- in the class, but the calculus failure was a little more difficult to recover from. I thought I made the proper adjustments but still only got a 40% on the next exam. Eventually, most of my days were spent practicing math problems either by myself or with my tutor courtesy of Air Force ROTC (for which I will forever be grateful) and completing homework and extra credit assignments. 

I ended up pulling off a D+ in the class which seemed miraculous considering where I had started, but the most important lesson from the class was that I now knew exactly how hard I had to work in preparation to ensure success in college. Even though I knew what I had to do, it was hard to do it on a consistent basis. I eventually got better and better at preparation, found what worked for me, and turned that 2.69 GPA after my first quarter into consistently making the dean's list and graduating cum laude with a 3.519 GPA. 

Never Stop Preparing

One benefit I was most looking forward to after graduating (besides the income) was not having to study for any more exams! Once got that desk job, I thought the importance of preparation would be wiped away by this amazing little tool called Google, right? WRONG. Now, instead of a professor asking me if I knew 100 pieces of information once every 5 weeks, I have suppliers, bosses, coworkers, and business partners asking me if I know 100 pieces of information every day.

What happens when I go to a meeting where someone is expecting to gather some information from me that I haven't yet prepared? Believe it or not, that person is not very happy with me. In the first few months of my career, I would struggle with preparing the information my boss would want to know in our meetings because I didn't know exactly what type of information he was actually going to ask. I could have saved a lot of breath by wearing around a t shirt or holding up a sign that read "Let me get back to you on that." 

Although most of the exams at work are open note, preparation is now more important than ever. I quickly learned to apply the same concepts I learned in college to my every day job. Applying concepts learned in college to my job? Weird, right? I guess that $40,000 education wasn't a complete waste of time after all.

At the end of each week, I look at my calendar for the following week and highlight my most important meetings and topics. I then make sure I have time at least a day in advance to adequately prepare my notes, documents, and thoughts to ensure I'm able to provide value and not waste anybody's time. I still don't know everything I'm asked in every situation, but my batting average is a hell of a lot better than it was 2 years ago when I first started.

Proper Preparation is Paramount to Prosperity

What are you currently working towards? If you're trying to save money, have you thought about how you're going to schedule your next couple of weeks so that you can spend less or try and make a little more? If you prepare by going to the grocery store and packing your lunches, you won't spend as much money eating out. Are you working towards success in your career or school?

Whatever your goal, be sure to take the time to prepare and give yourself the best chance at success. Wasting all your brainpower, time, and effort working towards a goal only to allow yourself to fail from lack of preparation is a just plain lazy move. Sometimes preparation is as simple as taking 10 minutes to think, focus, and get your mind right, and sometimes preparation requires hours and hours of reading textbooks, reading slides, and doing practice problems.

Analyze your goals, determine what level of preparation you'll need to put in to achieve your desired level of success, and put in the work! You'll surprise yourself with how successful and satisfied you'll become.

3 comments:

  1. Transitioning from school to my internship, I have realized that it is easy to get complacent about preparation. Like you said, though, it is no less important, so I use my white board to remind me of upcoming presentations and scheduled meetings that I need to prepare my thoughts for.

    That's great that proper preparation has helped you in your career and financially, but some things you just can't be ready for like when I take you to the cleaners in 2K every single time.

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    1. I've been preparing for 2K for years and have waxed you every time we've played except one time. No matter how much you prepare, you can't avoid random error in the universe. The sun shines up a dog's ass hole every once in a while.

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  2. The basic meaning of "prosper" from which the word "prosperity" comes from is to "succeed," from the Latin "prosperare." Because most people measure success in terms of financial gains, the word "to prosper" has come to mean "to succeed in business or in financial endeavors."guarantor

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