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To read the first piece in this two-part series on the importance of preparation, click here. 

Mind over matter

This means unleashing the infinite power of the mind to challenge realities and overcome limitations.

So, how does one cultivate the right mind?

We can all overthink, over-process and over-analyse any situation. However, if you want the right mindset, you must practice resting your mind in order to strengthen it.

I know what you are thinking. Catherine, how on earth can I switch off my mind, just like switching off the lights?

You can’t just switch off the mind. You need to give it something to focus on. It can be as simple as reading a book, listening to some music or an inspirational podcast.

This is a way to find insights, ideas, wisdom and a vision of what could be as part of your preparation.

It’s a matter of dropping into your heart space and feeling your way through life, work and relationships.

This is how we work smarter and not harder because we know the mind can get stuck in repeating thoughts – the negative thoughts of yesterday, last month and even last years.

We are social animals

Aristotle said, ‘Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual.’

Man cannot live alone.

If you are anything like me, a massive introvert, know that even we need some human interactions.

There is research that tells us socialising, working in groups, with teams and other human beings, all help reduce stress, tension and worry.

In turn, this allows us to make better use of our planning.

We would be feeding information off each other. We would be learning from one another. When there is a gathering of diverse minds and thinking, one is exposed to new ideas, insights and aha moments.

Lil Wayne said, ‘The more time you spend contemplating what you should have done … you lose valuable time planning what you can and will do’.

You are wise, wondrous and powerful

Generating a sense of purpose in life is the crux of who you are and why you do what you do.

If you don’t invest time in slowing down, preparing, planning or sharpening your saw, like the lumberjack, you will be working harder, not smarter. This will lead you to feeling burned out, lacking direction and, at times, completely lost or stuck.

You have all the resources you need. You just need to work on establishing a constructive method that will give you the time to prepare and plan.

Just like keeping your physical, mental and emotional bodies in check, you could go deeper by committing to a practice of preparation every day.

Setting an intention for the day is a sure way to give you back more precious time.

And what better intention than one that focuses on your mental, spiritual, physical and emotional wellbeing?

Another great quote to ponder over, this time from Yogi Berra – ‘If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else’.

Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans

All you need to do is commit to sharpening your saw each day.

That means making the time and space in your calendar first. Map it out before you commence your week. Then, you can add all the other less important things in your calendar.

Don’t compromise on it. If, by any chance, you have a conflicting activity that is presented at the same time you have blocked out your preparation time, politely let them know that you already have plans and suggest another time that suits you both.

You have to protect your ‘sharpening the saw time’. This is an aspect that I personally struggle with. I can fall into the trap of pushing my time aside because of feeling guilty or terrible that I am saying ‘no’. Consequently, I find myself viewing my own time as unimportant compared to other people.

Every person’s time holds equal value.

To create a mindset shift from this point of view, you have to do something that keeps you focused and reminded all the time.

For example, I have a sticky note on my computer that says ‘yes’ to me because I know that when life gets tough, all I have to do is sharpen my saw.

With daily practice, determination and continuously working smarter, anybody can transform preparation into a new healthy habit.

Once you have honed your planning skills, you will see how your projects succeed on a whole new level, regardless if it’s a simple task or a long-term goal.

I will leave you with one last quote from Benjamin Franklin: ‘By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.’