“Chance favors a prepared mind” – said Louis Pasteur, the French chemist, microbiologist and the pioneer of the germ theory of disease. In his case, he meant that observations he was making in chemistry and microbiology were possible because of prior study, observation, analysis and conclusions.
To me it means that opportunity knocks are more clearly heard at the door of those standing ready to listen for them.
The benefits of being prepared were brought home recently to me when I missed a golden investment opportunity because I had procrastinated in setting up a broker account at my institution. The market was down, I had money to invest, our allocation needed the stocks that were down, but I couldn’t buy them in this account for lack of foresight to set up the broker account ahead of time!
You’ve all heard the Boy Scout motto ‘Be prepared’ . The idea Baden-Powell (founder of the Boy Scouts organization) had when he made up that motto was that “all Scouts should prepare themselves to become productive citizens and to give happiness to other people. He wanted each Scout to be ready in mind and body for any struggles, and to meet with a strong heart whatever challenges might lie ahead.” In other words, to be ready for life.
What are the benefits of being prepared?
Better ability to function after disasters.
If you prepare to survive a natural disaster, or a man made one, by having a supply of food, medicine, water and etc, you will have time to figure out next steps in a disaster.
If you prepare your online business for cyber-attack by taking security measures and backups you will have less downtown and potentially higher profits.
If you keep your body healthy and fit you are preparing for avoidance of or faster recovery from disease or accidents.
Increased capacity to recognize, evaluate and act on opportunities.
If you have prepared yourself by thinking about future needs of society and taken training in those areas, you are better able to start a successful business, or land a higher paying job.
If you prepare for a future action, such as buying a house or planning a vacation, by researching the subject and figuring out what you need, want and can afford, you are better able to get a good deal, buy the tool that you really need and get the most from your vacation.
If you prepare by being actively involved with a network of people and organizations, you will be presented with opportunities you might not otherwise have seen.
What kinds of preparation can you practice?
Since the Mayan calender ends in 2012 many survivalists groups are preparing for the end of the world. I’m not one of them, but do believe that most folks aren’t adequately prepared for disaster. Some of the things you should consider:
What alternatives do you have immediately available if all community goods and services cease suddenly?
What knowledge do you and your immediate family have that will help you survive in such a situation? Can you start a fire, can you find food, do you know how to purify water and etc?
If your house is destroyed, do you have a copy of important documents stored offsite and can you get to them? How will you use your credit card if you don’t have it and don’t know the number? Do you have a list of your accounts and passwords other than in your house?
Can you treat an injury, resuscitate a drowning victim or aid a person having a heart attack?
Do you have an exit plan for your family if the house catches on fire and have you practiced it?
This list could go on with many other questions so if you feel a lack of preparedness, go figure out what you need to know, do and have to resolve the situation.
One of the universally recognized ways to get prepared is to educate or train yourself. Sure, you went to school, maybe even college or post-graduate, but that might not guarantee that you are trained and certainly will not guarantee that you will stay relevantly trained.
Education and training are lifelong pursuits. My Father once told me that you don’t go to school to learn things, you go to school to learn HOW to learn. In other words, you get the tools you need to pursue life long education – whether those be knowing how to read and cipher, knowing where to find resources to look up information, knowing how to learn about new technology, or learning how things (like tools) generally work so that you can figure things out from that basic knowledge.
If you look around enviously at others who seem to move from job to job or promotion to promotion and wonder how they do it, you haven’t prepared as they have.
Prepare yourself to step into a new job by keeping up to date in your field, being willing to take on new challenges (and making good at them when you do), keeping your resume up to date and posted with job sites, keeping your ear to the ground in the company to sniff out new opportunities and nurturing the network of people and businesses with whom you deal.
Surviving in the modern world must include the ability to understand and apply financial concepts. Preparing yourself by learning personal finance concepts and applying them consistently will ensure that you land in the ‘have it’ world instead of the ‘have not’ world.
Prepare for success by learning a highly paid skill, being willing to work a side job, doing without a few wants to save money, and learning about investing and the stock market so as not to be intimidated by the terms and so called experts trying to sell you things.
Prepare for success by taking a detail oriented approach to your finances, setting up a budget, tracking your spending, saving, investing and profits/losses – oh and by the way, don’t forget to set up that broker account ahead of the time you want to trade!!!
Physical and mental well being.
Taking a proactive, instead of reactive approach to keeping your body and mind healthy and ready to serve you is one way to be prepared.
A healthy body and mind are more able to repel disease and more apt to avoid accidental injury. You may live longer and more vigorously. You may find financial benefits in that your insurance costs might be lower, lost work hours fewer, stamina greater and doctor and pharmacy bills less.
Life events (death, fire, lawsuits, etc).
Being prepared for events that life will and can throw at you most certainly will provide financial benefit and peace of mind to you and your family.
Every one dies someday. You will too. Prepare by having your wishes legally drawn up, documented and discussed with family. Who do you want to have any left over assets? Where and how do you want to be buried or cremated? Do you want to donate body parts? What legacy do you want your family to keep alive after you are gone?
Knowing that life’s major risks are insured sets you up for financial success as well as peace of mind. Determine your need for various types of insurance or other risk coverage and take the actions you deem needed. You probably have the obvious: life insurance, home insurance (fire, theft and other damage), and auto insurance.
Do you need to prepare for other situations? Perhaps you rent and need renter’s insurance. Perhaps you are the sole bread winner and need short and long term disability insurance. Perhaps you are elderly and need long term care insurance. What about vision and dental? Should you be tested for diseases that run in your family to try to prevent them? If you own a business, is it adequately insured and are you protected from business liability in your personal life.
Other risks that often aren’t considered, but happen frequently include the risk of getting a divorce, paying more taxes than you really owe, losing your job, becoming disabled and others.
Being prepared is not a one shot deal.
Like education, being prepared is a life long pursuit. As has been said, the only constant in life is change. Change happens all the time. The threats you prepare against become different with changes – changes in your personal circumstance and changes in the world.
It’s often not easy to get prepared in the first place, and once there, many tend to relax their guard. Thinking about preparedness should be an item on all of our year end checklists – noting changes that may require attention.
Are you prepared? What else can our readers do to prepare for life’s little (or big) conundrums? How do you keep up with being prepared?