Why is it so common that people don’t prepare themselves for the worst? They would rather brush the idea of their life, goals or projects going wrong under the carpet and think that “the worst” will never happen to them. Whilst watching Chris Hadfield’s TED Talk What I learned from going blind in space this very question surfaced for me. Why don’t people prepare for the worst?
This kind of narrow-minded thinking and behaviour can be very limiting, and unfortunately it is far too typical. As a professional coach I very much understand and promote that when planning for new goals you need to be positive and motivated in order to move through the change process, but you also need to be realistic and consider the “what ifs”.
So why do people not consider the worst? Is it because it’s uncomfortable or unpleasant? That the buzz and excitement of a new adventure and grand success is all too consuming and the possibility of it tanking is too demotivating to think about?
Here’s the thing though…
By planning for the worst case scenarios, as Chris Hadfield did in his training, the possible negative outcomes, which seemed dark and scary in the beginning lose their fearful facade, and the “what ifs” become less intimidating and more manageable.
By considering all possible outcomes, you take control of your “what ifs”. You are now walking into your change process with your eyes wide open, armed with alternative plans as your safety net.
The problem is, is that if you haven’t planned for the worst and something goes wrong you don’t just lose control, but there is also a good chance that you will lose motivation and faith in your abilities. Bouncing back from that type of experience can be time consuming and costly, both financially and emotionally.
Another possible reason for not considering the “what ifs” is that it is too damaging for the ego. By actually admitting that there could be a failure, it is too overwhelming for the ego to manage or accept.
Steve Donahue writes the following in his book Shifting Sands. “The road to success is not paved with success. At times its not paved at all. The road to a successful life takes us through deserts where we get stuck and what we must do to get moving again is a defeat of our ego. Whether it means admitting that we’re wrong, accepting a loss, apologising, forgiving, asking for help or acknowledging our weakness, the ego comes out the loser by being deflated.”
By accepting the fact that things go wrong and then planning for them, prevents your ego from taking over and sabotaging your success .
A great model to use when planning your goals is the SMART goal model. Make sure that your goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timed. By considering all these factors in your planning phase you should, when tackling the realistic section, be considering the worst-case scenarios and making contingency plans to overcome possible challenges ahead.
Set yourself up for success, not failure, by considering everything in your planning phase.