Preparation is an important step in any endeavor which we might want to pursue. Depending on the nature of that endeavor, our preparation may be more or less in one or more of these areas:
We might need to prepare ourselves physically through exercise, training, improving health, or learning specific skills. Some projects require obtaining or gathering needed materials and supplies. When thinking of emergency preparation, this is generally the focus, though preparation in other areas is needed as well. Preparation includes planning and organizing. Practice is important in preparation. Having needed emergency supplies will not be helpful it we don’t know how to use them. Training by doing something repeatedly over time makes it easier, faster and can in some cases become automatic.
Mental preparation involves instruction and study to learn not only how to do certain things, but also underlying ideas, principles and processes. In pursuing a higher education there are usually pre-requisite courses which must first be taken to build foundational knowledge before more specific courses can be taken. Mental exercise is a way to explore possibilities and options. Are we able to prepare for a Plan B in the event that our initial plan doesn’t work? We often think through, imagine and visualize what we are hoping to accomplish before we begin. Gaining an understanding of how one task fits into a larger scheme is also an important part of mental preparation.
With many physical or mental tasks, we often don’t think about emotional preparation. It can be valuable to do some honest thinking about our motives and intent for whatever we pursue. Are we being honest with ourselves and with others with whom we may need help or collaboration? Are we confident in our ability to accomplish what we set out to do? Do we have the necessary commitment and determination to see it through, even when it becomes hard? Do we have the emotional strength to deal with potential failure?
Spiritual preparation is probably considered even less than emotional, though it may actually be the most important. We often focus on preparing for the physical and mental work we do. Spiritual preparation has more to do with what we are trying to become as we go through life. Progress is not seen in things created or accomplished, but in our character.
Spiritual preparation includes nurturing values upon which our preparation in all aspects of life is based. It involves doing those things which build a foundation of truth with which to meet unknown or unforseen challenges. We never know what life will bring to us, whether that be personal health issues, difficult relationships, losses, or catastrophic events which may change our lives. Our perspective can make a huge difference in how we handle them. Being spiritually prepared can turn such challenges into growth opportunities.
Maybe we don’t think much about social preparation. We do need to learn and practice social skills. For some this comes more easily and naturally than for others. The idea of preparation for social interaction seems to me kind of a set up to be phony. One might prepare to manipulate or orchestrate to get what they want.
I think that emotional and spiritual preparation are what is most needed to have healthy relationships. If we feel good about ourselves, we will not seek relationships to make us feel better – to fill our hole. With spiritual preparation we can get outside ourselves, so our relationships are not “all about me”, but are more focused on others and their needs.
I can see how relationships with certain people in my life at particular times helped me to learn grow and be prepared for others. Having relationships with people of diverse backgrounds can help us become more understanding and compassionate.
Preparation by Elimination
Along with acquiring what we will need for a task, whether that be physical materials or knowledge, sometimes good preparation requires getting rid of things. This could mean cleaning or removing unnecessary clutter from our workspace. It can also mean eliminating negative thoughts, bad habits, or unhealthy relationships. We are more free to accomplish and improve without excess baggage of whatever variety.
Preparation to receive requires some openness and willingness. If our life is cluttered with insignificant things, we may not have room for the larger, important ones. Sometimes we must be willing to discard old ways of thinking to be able to learn something new.
Line Upon Line
Life experiences tend to build upon each other. I have lived long enough to be able to look back and see where certain experiences have prepared me for others which came later. Things did not always go as planned in terms of preparing for and progressing in a career. Life has thrown other things at me. I have learned as much from things that did not go as planned as with those that did.
For example, I had an unexpected employment opportunity largely because of skills and knowledge I gained through previous volunteer work. Then through that job I learned about websites and blogs, which prepared me to create this blog. Those skills also prepared me for another volunteer service opportunity.
The Great Preparation
With any preparation it is vital to remember the “why”. Is the goal simply a short term accomplishment? Are we focused only on basic necessary human survival? Are we hoping for success or prosperity, progress or improvement? Is there a larger “why”? What are we ultimately preparing for? The underlying “why” for everything should be becoming a better person. If in all our preparation we remember to do those things that will make us better, that better person will be better prepared for whatever the future brings. In terms of preparation, the most important question will ultimately be “Are you prepared to meet God?” (Alma 5:28-30)