Joshua Keel

Prepare for Success

July 9, 2014

When I left CVS, I felt the first drops of rain. Only an hour or so earlier, it had seemed like a beautiful summer day with no clouds in sight. When I got to Chipotle, where I had planned to grab some dinner, it was coming down steady. By the time I ordered, paid, and waited for the woman at the checkout to finally notice I was standing there and hand me my food, it was pouring.

It was only a few blocks back to my apartment, but by the time I was halfway there, my T-shirt was soaked and I was starting to feel a pretty strong desire to just run the rest of the way home, brown paper Chipotle bag clutched in hand. Instead, I felt a wet, slimy tear, heard a splash-plop and saw my burrito bowl hit the sidewalk. The bag had been reduced to a brown blob by the rain. Inside, I wanted to cry (or maybe scream), but I grabbed my bowl up off the sidewalk, glanced at the woman staring at me from the shelter of a building, and threw my fork, napkins and what was left of the paper bag into the nearest trash bin.

I wasn’t very prepared this evening. I paid for it, but the price could have been dearer still. The contents of my bowl could have spilled out onto the sidewalk, or I could have been in my work clothes instead of my workout ones. If I had checked the weather report, I would have known what was coming, and if I had brought an umbrella with me, I probably would have arrived at home with an intact brown paper bag.

The last couple of years of hard work on improving my health and fitness have taught me that success depends on preparedness. Whether it’s at the grocery store buying the next day’s dinner, making sandwiches the night before to take to work for lunch, or scheduling a workout around a dinner date, planning ahead helps pave the way for keeping your word to yourself and achieving the things you’ve set out to achieve.

Being prepared is almost like giving your future self a willpower boost. In a moment of weakness, we often do what is expedient instead of what aligns with our values, our long-term best interests. It’s easy to just give in, tell ourselves we’ll do better tomorrow. But that tomorrow never comes without today’s self being willing to take steps to make that tomorrow a reality, and that involves setting things up so that it’s so hard to fail, it’s almost impossible.

When you’ve brought your sandwiches to work and they’re sitting there staring you in the face, it will probably be harder to justify throwing them out and spending money on Chinese take-out instead.

So prepare for success. And go make yourself some sandwiches.