Preparation and Outcomes: Shockingly, These are Related!

backpack

By. Dr. Allison Belger

Three days before her last day of sixth grade, my older daughter forgot to bring her lunch to school.  It was up to me to get it to her, and that meant a longer-than-expected bike ride (my gear shift broke), a rush to work, and a grouchy mood.  I was annoyed.  Upon reflection about an hour after that rocky start to my day, I realized that the forgotten lunch had almost nothing to do with my daughter and everything to do with me.  You see, for the past eight years, I’ve been packing her lunch, placing it in her backpack, and sending her on her way. It wasn’t she who forgot her lunch last week.  I did.  I left it in the refrigerator, instead of placing it in her backpack as I usually do.

I’ve written before about taking responsibility for ourselves and about being accountable for our own actions and behaviors.  This time, my message is about taking responsibility for our outcomes as they relate to our preparation.  In the example of my daughter and her forgotten lunch, my preparation was flawed; I can’t expect her to suddenly remember her own lunch – a desired outcome–after thousands of days of packing it for her.

What we do each day matters: how we train, the way we relate to others, what we eat, how we spend our resources.  We are constantly creating future outcomes in our lives.  We cannot, then, be surprised, when the outcomes in our relationships and performance don’t turn out the way we’d like if we haven’t done the right kind of work and preparation.

Of course some things are beyond our control, and all outcomes are not simply the direct result of our efforts (wouldn’t that be nice).  Other forces are at play, and as human beings, we need to accept this fact while doing what we can to steer the trajectory of our future.

Don’t be surprised, then, if the patterns you’ve created persist. If, for example, you’ve paid all the bills ever since you’ve lived with your partner, don’t be shocked if you get slammed with a late fee when you forget to pay, and he doesn’t pick up the slack.  If you’ve been intimidated by a boss and have consistently held back at meetings, don’t be shocked if she doesn’t ever ask for your opinion.  If your workouts have lacked intensity for quite some time, or you’ve been skipping skill days, don’t suddenly go questioning your coach when you perform poorly in a competition.

There are always reasons in life for a less-than-desirable outcome. Blaming others for acting consistently in response to your repetitive behaviors is foolish; instead, you might try to figure out why you’ve set things up the way you have.  Maybe you have a need to be needed, so you’ve taken on the task of paying the bills for your partner.  Maybe you lack self-confidence, so you’ve been reluctant to speak up in front of your boss.  Perhaps you’re having trouble letting go of your little girl, so you’ve packed her lunch far beyond the time when she could do it herself.  Maybe you’re experiencing burnout in your training, and you’re having trouble admitting that it may be time to take a break.

What we do and how we act today affects the outcomes of tomorrow.   Conscious and unconscious forces are always at play in the choices we make. The more in touch we become with our motivations and behaviors, the more likely we are to create positive patterns and desired outcomes. Today is a good time to start. This means no lunch-packing for me this summer!

****PLEASE VISIT JUGGLING FOR JUDE to find out how you can support St. Jude Children’s Hospital via a 9-year-old’s soccer juggling skills! Every bit of money helps children with cancer receive cutting-edge treatment at an amazing place.  Thanks for your support!

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