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  • Writer's pictureSteve Carrigan

"’Fail to prepare, prepare to fail"

by Steve Carrigan - MU Business Advisor



This is a famous quote many of us have probably heard before but because it’s true across so many aspects of our daily lives, it is worth exploring how it can be applied to our business goals and what we can do to prepare ourselves for success.

The first and most important step is to identify your end-goal. What specifically do you want to happen? Decide what is important to you and eliminate those things that get in the way. Working effectively is very different than being busy.


Once you have identified a goal, devise a plan, prepare thoroughly for how and by when you wish to accomplish it, and then execute it. In business especially, good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation. Successful people know that their success was not an accident; it was hard work.


Learn from any mistakes you might make along the way. We all make mistakes, but smart people learn from them, their own as well as those of others. People in business do not intend to fail and deciding not to prepare is a choice. Thoughtful and thorough preparation does not of course guarantee success. However, it does require your full attention and commitment and you can choose to learn from, and build upon, your mistakes and failures.


Listen to your inner voice. Only you will know whether the choices you have made are giving you pleasure or causing you anxiety. Mental preparation for a meeting, an event, or any key decision you need to make is as important as physical preparation. Look back on any success that you achieve and work out why you were successful. Why was I successful on this occasion? Did I feel good about my work? Did I feel especially confident ? Was it an enjoyable experience ? How can I repeat this in future? Keep a record of all those things that contributed towards your success.



Look after your health. Whilst it’s important to be able to commit to the physical and mental effort required in building a successful business, this is often at the sacrifice of sufficient time to rest and recover. The importance of sleep and exercise towards our wellbeing is becoming increasingly clear but is still frequently overlooked. Of course, this is difficult when we all have busy lives and are juggling so many different priorities. However, we are now more aware than ever before of how a healthy lifestyle not only improves physical performance but our mental health as well. Sitting in front of a computer, in a workshop or office all day is not a healthy lifestyle choice. Good diet, sleep and relaxation is also important as all the evidence now shows.


It was the US president, Benjamin Franklin who said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” and whilst proper preparation and planning won’t necessarily guarantee you success it will prevent poor performance and help build your self-confidence.


In summary, the important thing is to focus on what you can control, and not to worry about what you can’t. Your key priority is to yourself, so enjoy what you do.

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