What Are You Truly Preparing For?

Life is full of preparations. We prepare for our daily tasks, plan for our future, and work toward our dreams. In a world fraught with uncertainties, it's easy to wonder: "Am I preparing enough? And am I on the right track?"

We often try to predict and prepare for every twist and turn that might come our way. But here's a thought: what if preparing is more of an agile state of mind than a guessing game? Instead of stressing about countless "what ifs," what if we focused on “what is” now? Preparation is then a continuous interaction between us and our environment, not just a checklist before we begin.

In this blog, we delve into this new perspective on preparation. Drawing on insights from Dr. David Drake, we explore the intrinsic links between preparation, our sense of 'enough,' and our levels of trust and maturity. We also invite you to reflect on the implications of your choices. . .

Let's dive in, starting with a note from Dr. David Drake…

A Note from David: 

I went into surgery on my left foot in January, feeling quite prepared. What I was not prepared for was coming out of the experience with (Long-)COVID and seven months of difficulty on many fronts. The experience re-shaped my thinking on the motto I learned as a Boy Scout: Be Prepared.

This shift began in earnest when I realized there was little the medical experts could do to either explain or resolve my issues. At that point, I decided to re-frame my situation as a spiritual quest, an initiatory path. I stopped looking for a cure and started looking for clues. I stopped preparing to ‘fight’ the illness and started preparing to be with it and learn from it. The challenges I was experiencing became mirrors in which to see myself, not enemies for me to overcome. 

This led me to rethink my approach to preparation. I came to see it as an invitation to let go of standing outside our world to prepare for what might come to see preparation as a dance with the world. Preparation, action, observation, and reflection become a continuous flow. This led me to reflect on my role as a parent of a young adult and the challenging world she faces. I came to realize: there's only so much I can prepare her for. What does this mean for how we develop ourselves and our clients? As a start, let’s look at three traps we can fall into around preparation. 

How Can You Manage Your Anxiety When Preparing?

When you're preparing for something — be it your daily tasks, an upcoming life event, or a new professional challenge — it's natural to feel some anxiety. This becomes even more palpable when you think of the many unknowns ahead. The endless 'what-ifs' can be daunting, increasing your sense of not being in control and your feelings of unease.

However, true preparation is more about your presence IN the current reality than it is about your projections of what might be. If you want to feel genuinely ready and less anxious, notice with compassion and candor what is right in front of you. You can't control every aspect of life, but you can boost your maturity, which enables you to handle unpredictability with grace.

When preparing for an uncertain future, the real task isn't about averting potential pitfalls. It's about cultivating an attuned mindset that's flexible, resilient, and primed to adjust no matter what comes your way.

How Can You Decide What You Really Need to Carry?

First and foremost, remember this: right now, just as you are, you're enough. Preparation is more a function of your mindset than your inventory. It is about resourcing yourself from your environment rather than depleting yourself, thinking you have to do it all on your own. Consider this analogy: 

Imagine you're going backpacking. Everything you choose to pack is something you'll have to carry. This naturally leads you to prioritize — what's truly necessary for me to bring and what can I leave behind? How can one item serve many purposes? Now, apply this thinking to your life. What do you truly need to move ahead? It is often less than you think. For example, letting go of compulsively-consumptive habits in your professional life will lighten your load — freeing you to be more grounded, responsive, and sustainable.

How Can You Deepen Your Willingness to Trust?

Trust plays a central role in how you prepare. Your actions and feelings around preparation are inherently linked to the degree of trust you have in yourself, in others, and in your environment. How open are you to receive what Life is showing you in this moment? Feeling unsure as you prepare? Ask yourself: Where do I need more trust?

True preparation is as much about your maturity as it is about your mastery. Yes, it is important to review the brief and your notes before the meeting with your client, and it is just as important to trust yourself before the meeting so that you are fully present. As such, it is less like cramming before you take an exam and more like trusting yourself before you start a conversation.

How Can You Prepare for Your Daily Choices?

After reaffirming your trust in yourself and your environment, preparation becomes much easier. Reflect on this: What do your actions right now tell you about what you’re preparing for? To make this tangible, let's work through a simple exercise:

  1. SITUATE: Take a Moment: Give yourself a few minutes of quiet reflection.
  2. SEARCH: Scan Your Routine: Think about your typical day or week right now. Reflect on your living space, work setting, patterns, choices, and even conversations.
  3. SHIFT: Observe Your Actions: Where are you directing most of your energy? What tasks do you consistently prioritize? What are you preparing for, consciously or not?
  4. SUSTAIN: Notice Your Impacts: What might this suggest about the assumptions you are making? The values you are privileging? The invitations you are sensing?
  5. SPIRAL: Adjust Accordingly: How might you shift your view on preparation as an interconnected process in which you and your environment are preparing for each other?

This self-reflection can offer a revealing look into where you're heading and help you align your daily actions with the vision you hold for your future.

What Future Are You Preparing For?

Preparation is a deeply personal process profoundly shaped by the ways in which we view ourselves and our world. Preparation is not about predicting the future; it is about presencing yourself as it unfolds.

Every step you take, every move you make, every breath you take . . . is a dance of preparation. What future are you creating through the choices you make? What choices are you being called to make in response to the future that is emerging?

Living more consciously enables us to be more prepared. Trusting more in our preparation enables us to live more consciously.