I think most people would agree that we have to be prepared for whatever may happen, but that is easier said than done! The way we balance our preparedness makes a major difference in balancing between day-to-day life quality and future consideration. At work it is similar. We prepare by following appropriate studies of our subject, e.g. Human Resources, and ensuring that we understand key principles and how various aspects should be handled and why. We have prepared by learning the theory of our subject, but how ready are we to convince others to follow what we are able to do and be impressed by our interactive demeanor? We have to understand the environment we are working within and people we are working with to be truly effective.
One example of attempting to be prepared, that I remember very well, is when I set-off on my first extended travel journey many years ago. When I look back it is unbelievable how much stuff I decided to take with me. I bought a very large backpack and filled it and had items attached to it including the following:
- A small tent I bought at the railway lost-property office
- A suit (Burton’s) in case I found a job in Paris (the official purpose of the trip was to take CII Insurance exams at the Paris centre – more an excuse than true objective!)
- Foreign language dictionaries, some “Teach Yourself” language books and writing materials
- A plastic bowl and cleaner in case I had to wash clothes
- More routine travel stuff and shoes etc.
As you can see, I was well prepared for some specific things, but not really for travel. For example:
- Apart from some Youth Hostel information I had no travel guides and although there were cities I wanted to visit, I had no idea what I would do when I got there (anywhere!)
- I had a shortage of day-to-day comfortable clothes, particularly for walking
- My backpack was so heavy I was bowed over as I walked – I had not considered (sensibly) that I may have to carry my luggage with me while sightseeing
Travel was so different in those days (pre-EU) with no cell phones, electronic devices or internet. Most information I obtained from information booths at train stations or from other travelers. There were also currency restrictions and a maximum of £40 could be taken out of the UK at that time – not that I had much more available!
So, I was very well prepared for things that were unlikely – finding (or wanting) an office job so early in my travels and imagining I would have time to spend learning languages. In contrast, a key pastime became visiting breweries and enjoying free beer and just enjoying the company of other hitchhikers!
My “portability” issue was quickly resolved. I stayed at a Youth Hostel in Suresne (Paris) for a week or so and left most of my luggage there as I set-off towards Yugoslavia. I was certainly more trusting in those days, but when I returned a few months later everything was still there – and I hadn’t needed any of it! On subsequent similar trips I took only a small bag and that was perfect. I had flexibility and comfort and was able to concentrate on what was most important – becoming familiar with other countries and other people some of whom I am still in contact with and influenced my ultimate (so far) move to Canada.
How important do you think it is to plan and thoroughly prepare? Looking back and considering the twists and turns in life – and changed interests – I think it may be more important to became very skilled at recognizing and knowing how to respond to opportunity and sometimes enjoying going in totally different and unanticipated directions. What do you think?
Thank you for your interest. I look forward to any thoughts and comments you may have.