Preparation is everything

    I used to have a quotation on the wall of my classroom when I was a teacher that has been attributed to various different people, but reads: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."

    The point of the quotation is that to have any kind of success in life that isn’t luck-dependent, you have to be ready. That looks different depending on the situation, but (for me at least) involves thinking about different scenarios, what could play out, etc.

    This post, found via HN, is from a developer thinking about software projects. But the point he makes is universal: preparing effectively means that you can get on and focus on delivering without having to keep stopping.

    Motivation is the willingness to want to do something. This is of course an important first step in potentially being productive. We are better at things we want to do, rather than things we’re forced to do by others, or by our own self discipline.

    But motivation is nothing more than that. It helps us start, but it doesn’t mean we’ll finish, or even produce half of what we want to. Even when we are motivated, if we don’t make enough progress our motivation has a way of epically [sic] disappearing.


    Knowing how to make progress and making progress are two different things, but we often conflate them and treat them as the same thing. We basically jump into the task and start.


    Productivity doesn’t come from feeling motivated, it comes from knowing what you need to do in enough detail that you can complete it without continually stopping and losing your focus.

    Source: To Be Productive, Be Prepared | Martin Rue

    Image: Brett Jordan

    'Prepper' philosophy

    This morning, I came across a long web page from 2016, presumably created as a reaction to everything that went down that year (little did we know!)

    Ostensibly, it's about preparing for scenarios in life that are relatively likely. It's pretty epic. While I've converted it to PDF and printed all 68 pages out to read in more detail, there were some parts that jumped out at me, which I'll share here.

    [T]he purpose of this guide is to combat the mindset of learned helplessness by promoting simple, level-headed, personal preparedness techniques that are easy to implement, don't cost much, and will probably help you cope with whatever life throws your way.

    lcamtuf, Doomsday Prepping For Less Crazy Folk

    Growing up, my mother was the kind of woman who always had extra tins in the cupboards 'just in case'. Recently, my wife has taken this to the next level, with documents containing details on our stash including best before dates, etc.

    Effective preparedness can be simple, but it has to be rooted in an honest and systematic review of the risks you are likely to face. Plenty of excited newcomers begin by shopping for ballistic vests and night vision goggles; they would be better served by grabbing a fire extinguisher, some bottled water, and then putting the rest of their money in a rainy-day fund.


    I see this document, which goes into money, self-defence, hygiene, and even relationships as neighbours as more of a philosophy of life.

    Rational prepping is meant to give you confidence to go about your business, knowing that you are well-equipped to weather out adversities. But it should not be about convincing yourself that the collapse is just around the corner, and letting that thought consume and disrupt your life.

    Stay positive: the world is probably not ending, and there is a good chance that it will be an even better place for our children than it is for us. But the universe is a harsh mistress, and there is only so much faith we should be putting in good fortune, in benevolent governments, or in the wonders of modern technology. So, always have a backup plan.


    Recommended reading 👍

    (also check out the author's hyperinflation gallery)