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The Path of Least Resistance: How to Plan for Success

Hello Readers!

It's a happy Tuesday on my end as it is full of everything that I love! Speaking to students, catching up with mentors, and planning for success!

I know that last line isn't everyone's idea of a fun time and trust me, it's taken years to finally see the benefits from thinking ahead. And so, in true takeaways fashion, I figured today was a great time as ever to talk about the path of least resistance and the importance of strategically planning for success.

To start from the beginning...I've never been a proclaimed planner. I've historically opted for 'thinking on my feet' and following 'where the wind takes me.' And while these are advantageous for certain occasions that require gut instinct and opportune timing, for day to day matters this can leave one scattered and disorganized. To go a little deeper, I think that my dislike of planning stems from my dislike to stand out, or be the brown noser compared to others. Pre-planning seemed like the activity that overly ambitious and straight laced students did to pass the time before their Harvard acceptance speeches, and I wanted to be like everyone else that seemed to just go with the flow of life.

Yet, as I continue to mature I've realized that these were all severe misconceptions, and that in fact, everyone needs some forethought to succeed.

Specifically, the forethought of yourself.

I can't remember when I first learned about the path of least resistance, but it definately has stuck with me. The basic idea is that when making decisions our brains prefer those which are easier in the moment. Easier can mean different things to different people, but it generally relates to being more convenient, less thought inducing, or more appealing. And this idea has stuck with me over the years because once I started to take note of the individual paths of least resistance I had, the easier maintaining and upholding new habits became.

When I think of my own path's of least resistance I first think of the small ones. Like always taking a drink with me to bed so I am more apt to drink water before I sleep. I've observed that once I lay down in bed, it takes a lot of effort to get back up again. So, if I have any shot achieving my goal to stay hydrated, I just know that I must take the extra step before I sit down. See I'll almost always drink the water in hand, but will rarely take the extra step to get up and get myself a glass after I've already played down. This is the essence of least resistance: do a little now to help a lot down the line.

This joins others like carrying my journal with me to stimulate writing, keeping healthy foods in higher stock so I don't overeat on unhealthy ones , and putting on my shoes first thing in the morning to encourage myself to get out of the door.

The simple fact is our brains make so many choices everyday, both conscious and not, that generally the options that take less time and less effort and will be the most likely to occur: and therefore our path of least resistance.

The trick to using this tool for successful planning, is to plan with your own 'path of least resistance' in mind. When you think of goals backwards instead of forwards you'll gradually find more and better ways to help yourself "steer into the curve." Planning is a conversation between your present and future self. Present you anticipating the push back from future you will help you to create better systems that represent yourself. And once you can begin realizing your personal trends you can better identify how to anticipate them in the future.

If you want to start reading more start literally carry around the book. If you want to start responding to emails quicker, always keep the tab open. Planning is an anticipation for action. If you are planning to achieve a new habit or goal, you must also be anticipating what will make it easier to get there too. And though it may seem obvious, a plan is the most effective when it is the most accurate in what will actually be done.

For me today, I put time building out my school year path of least resistance, which is my calendar. For myself, I know I need an organized time sheet to keep my activities straight. And once the school year comes I will be more likely to double book, or miss meetings if I attempt to "figure it out as I go." So spending just a few minutes jotting down my class schedule today is anticipating my limited time or desire to do that later, and will now establish a path of least resistance for Future me. And it works.

And I think that is the most important aspect of this technique to remember. It's the path of LEAST resistance, not the path of NO resistance. I may never enjoy scheduling meetings, but I will always have to do it. And unfortunately organization will always take effort! But, it can be made easier and more efficient once you begin to realize your own routines.

At the end of the day we will be more likely to achieve goals that we plan for, and future Us will almost always be thankful for a little extra effort today.

What are some of your paths to least resistance?

See you next week readers!

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