I had that dream again last night.
Maybe you’ve had it too. It’s the dream where you’ve got a final exam coming up, but you haven’t been to a single class all year.
Have you had that one?
For me, it’s typically a math test, and I have to try to read (and understand) the entire textbook in one night. Usually, I wake up before the actual exam (and it generally takes me a panicked moment or two before I realize that it was just a dream), but if I ever get to the point where I have to actually take that final, I have a pretty good guess as to how it would go. And the results would not be pretty.
This is similar to the common actor’s nightmare (which I have as well) of being on stage without having read the script.
Both of these nightmares, of course, have the same basic theme: unpreparedness. And, unfortunately, this theme isn’t limited to nightmares. It happens all too often in real life.
Does this scenario (or one similar to it) sound familiar? You have an important meeting in the morning. Maybe it’s a job interview, maybe it’s a client meeting. And you have a plan. Your plan is to go home right after work, have a light dinner, spend an hour or two going over your notes and doing some final research, and go to bed early so you can get a full eight hours of sleep and wake up early, feeling fully refreshed and ready to go!
But… it’s Kari’s birthday, and a few people from the office are heading out to the pub after work to help her celebrate. Well, you have to at least make an appearance, don’t you? I mean, after all, it’s Kari, and everyone loves Kari! So you drop in, just to say Happy Birthday, and-what? Oh, we’re doing a toast? Well, okay. Just the one toast, then.
And suddenly, it’s 3am. You stagger out of your Uber, fumble for your key, and fall asleep on top of the bed, fully dressed. The alarm goes off seemingly instantly. You know you’ve made a huge mistake.
But then-miracle of miracles-you get away with it! You somehow fake your way through the meeting, and you get away with it!
And that’s the danger zone. But the real danger zone is if you get away with it twice. Because then you start to think that it’s you. That you don’t need a plan. That you don’t need to prepare. That you’re actually better when you’re just winging it!
Please don’t fall for this trap! Getting away with it-even twice-doesn’t make you invincible! Sooner or later (and probably sooner), this “strategy” will backfire on you.
If something in your life-personally or professionally-is important, then it’s important enough to plan for. In the long run, “winging it” is a losing game.
Yes, “getting away with it” is a major relief. But it’s also the danger zone.