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Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail!

By Vitality Performance Champion Alex Gregory, MBE
Two-time Olympic gold medallist and Vitality Performance Champion Alex Gregory, MBE, explores what might be the world’s most useful phrase…

We all know the expression: ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.’ - a rule of thumb that comes in handy, whatever walk of life you’re in. I know from my experience in Olympic rowing that there’s no such thing as a shortcut if you want to do anything well.

Being prepared pays off when it comes to being a parent, too. It even works in the kitchen, as I discovered earlier this month when I took part in the Big Sunday Cook Up in my role as a Vitality Performance Champion. 
Planning is the key to success in the workplace too – no matter your role.

When I was in training, I’d have sessions three times a day, seven days a week. Turning up on day one of training was as important as the day before the Olympic final so on race day, there were no surprises. We knew what we were facing, and what we were capable of achieving. My confidence was sky high and this meant many wins, including two Olympic gold medals. 

With any job, the more time you put in from the start and the quicker you get into a routine, the more confidence you’ll have. It helps us cultivate a positive mental attitude. Whether it’s a work project or a fitness goal, we’re more likely to perform better and be happier and healthier when we’re well prepared and working to a plan. This can also make big differences to our levels of stress and worry, and our performance outside of work too.
As a Dad, being organised is something I work hard at. With three young children [Jasper, 10, Daisy, 6, and Jesse, 4], planning is essential. Sometimes, the only way to get out of the house in the morning is to get things ready the night before.

Personally, I love planning outdoor time with the kids. I feel passionately that this is good for our physical and mental wellbeing, especially for children. That’s why I wrote my book, Dadventures (HarperCollins, £12.99), a guide for parents on how to get outside more with their kids.

Just half an hour outside at lunchtime can be a great way to balance our technology use. Whether it’s walking the dogs, fossil hunting or making dens - it’s just a question of getting prepared and freeing up time to create those memories together.
Planning family meals is one way to prepare ahead and free up time – something I learned when I took part in the Big Sunday Cook Up. It’s a way of cooking that requires putting some effort in upfront – just a couple of hours at the weekend – to achieve quick, healthy meals during the week allowing more precious family time.

For me, being prepared means I can be more relaxed and efficient at work and at home, plus there’s more time to enjoy what’s important – there’s nothing better than that.

Getting prepared doesn’t have to be hard. Follow these simple tricks and tips from Henri Saha, Vitality Coach and Performance Psychology Expert, to up your planning game.

How to be a Better Planner

  • Having a plan is not necessary, planning is essential:  The process of planning is actually more important than the plan itself! Often things don’t go to plan, so adaptability is important but by going through the process you may be able to identify potential hiccups before they happen.  This will allow you to adjust accordingly.
  • See Preparation as a commitment:  By preparing healthy meals for the week, you’re committing yourself to eating well for the week.  Once the planning is done, the execution is actually the easy bit! Small steps make a big difference; for example, packing your gym bag the night before your workout will avoid the morning frenzy that leads to forgetting something vital like your trainers (we’ve all been there). And if you don’t quite make it? Be kind to yourself, there’s always tomorrow.
  • See effective planning as a time-saver: ‘A stitch in time saves nine’.  Time is the most valuable resource we have. If some prep at the weekend – meal planning, for example – can give you more quality time with your children or partner and a better work/life balance, it’s well worth the effort. In fact, anything that allows us to spend more time doing the things we love with the people we love is always worthwhile.