Think One Step Ahead
Estimated Lesson Time: 4 minutes
Computer programming is a passion of mine. I think what I enjoy most about it is the logical thought processes needed to make a program function correctly. It is like a series of advanced puzzles and mind games. A good program will be written to handle any situation that it may encounter using a series of “if-then-else” statements. For example, if a user chooses option B, then display all features for option B, otherwise, display options for A. In order to create a good program, the programmer must think ahead and prepare for as many situations as possible. In order to create a good plan of action in our real lives, we must also think at least one step ahead and prepare for as many situations as possible.
Thinking ahead is a thought process that uses if-then-else statements to predetermine courses of action based on different outcomes. It is also the process of thinking things through and getting the most out of each potential outcome whether it be good or bad. This technique can be used for a specific task, as in planning a marketing campaign or used to plan out your entire life.
Despite our confidence and persistence, there are things that we cannot control. We cannot control the economy, the markets, unforeseen disasters, and we cannot predict the outcomes of all events, but we can anticipate them. If we can anticipate an outcome, we can also prepare for the outcome and minimize its negatives and maximize its benefits. By preparing for all possible outcomes with a series of plans, we can increase our own confidence and the confidence level in those whom we lead.
Many people have the “play it by ear” attitude. This can be a great laid-back attitude to have, and not bad for a relaxing vacation, but not the best attitude to have when a successful outcome is important. Very often, thinking just one step ahead can make the difference between failure and success.
Thinking one step ahead begins with listing all of the possible outcomes for your current decision or current course of action. For each possible outcome, you will then want to create a course of action that can bring you as close to success as possible. Depending on the likelihood of the outcome, your plan of action can range from general to extremely detailed. By thinking one step ahead, you won’t be caught with your guard down. Here are some examples of thinking one step ahead:
- Professional long-term: If your current business generates $x in revenue in the next five years, then proceed with your detailed plan to open up more stores. Otherwise, proceed with your detailed plan to carry a wider range of products.
- Personal long-term: If you are accepted to XYZ school, then spend the next several years studying while working part-time. Otherwise, look for a full-time career.
- Professional short-term: If your client accepts the proposal, then devote your energy for the next six weeks to this project. Otherwise, spend two weeks contacting other prospective clients.
- Personal short-term: If you can get a room for a decent price, then take the kids to Walt Disney World for spring break. Otherwise, have many fun activities ready to do locally.
Remember, the key is not in making the statement itself, but having courses of actions carefully planned for any outcome (or any likely outcome) that can occur. If you make it a habit to do this, you will be able to handle surprises and unexpected outcomes much more gracefully and with much more efficiency. Think one step ahead, and you won’t be left behind.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)