People say you only retain a small percentage of what you hear. One of my graduate school professors had some pretty legendary sayings. I forgot most of them. However, one stayed with me: “proper preparation prevents poor performance.”
Apparently, this is part of that small percentage, because I say it all the time. (Not out loud. It’s kind of a tongue twister.) This saying applies to many things in our lives—especially those we talk about here at SALT™. Here are three situations where these can not only be “words to live by” but also words that change your life.
1. Job Interviews
At my first job interview after college, I was thoroughly prepared. This extended well beyond the critical functions of the job; I was basically ready to run the company (just kidding … but seriously, I was). Did I need to do all this? For this job, certainly not. However, the process was great practice, I performed very well in the interview, and I got the job.
So, what’s your proper preparation here? Start by speaking with your career services department (if you’re in school). In addition, do your research—about not only job interviews but also the employer and position. Talk with friends and family and their interview experiences, and practice your responses to common interview questions.
The only thing I didn’t prepare for? The salary question. It completely caught me off guard. From that experience, I learned that preparing for a job interview does not stop with the interview. Take some time to prepare yourself for the salary negotiation process. By knowing industry statics and creative alternatives (more vacation time? a faster review schedule to get a raise?), you can maximize your total compensation if your first request cannot be met.
Before I start any budget/spending plan (at this point, I’ve done so many I’m kind of a pro … yay?), I prepare by tracking my expenses. Now that I’m married, it’s turned into our expenses. In any event, this can help you establish a baseline.
Another big piece of budgeting preparation is being realistic with your spending plan. I would love to save more each month. However, based on my monthly fixed expenses combined with my lifestyle, it’s not going to happen … and I’m OK with that!
Prepare like this, and it will typically result in solid performance, as long as you monitor your spending and continue to be realistic when setting spending goals.
3. Big Purchases
Preparation is critical before considering any large purchase. Before we bought our house, my wife and I spent a great deal of time preparing for the purchase. We started with a list of desirable areas to live (remember, it’s all about location, location, location), spoke with trusted friends and family about their buying experiences, and gathered as much helpful hints and tips as we could. This made the process (and eventually house search) much more efficient.
The one thing we could have prepared more for was the actual negotiation. Homes are rather pricey; you can save yourself mucho bucks by spending a little time reviewing some negotiation strategies. Remember, be creative!
How has preparation paid off for you? Share your experiences in the comments!