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WRITE TEAM: When you fail to plan, you plan to fail

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”

Taking a break from the outside world, I chose this quote to look inward. Originally for the context of war, this quote stresses the necessity of preparation; however, this quote can be quite useful in our lives.

Originating from Chinese general and military strategist Sun Tzu, the quote suggests that battles are won before setting foot on the battlefield. Simply, this can mean that our daily “battles” are won or lost with what we do before engaging in them. Many times in our lives, we fail to plan effectively and this leads to mistakes being made and our stress levels soaring. If we simply did some minor preparation before our daily tasks, our days could go so much smoother.

What does that mean? Even with life not seeming as hectic in a coronavirus context, we still have many things on our plate and responsibilities. To be the “victorious warrior” that Sun Tzu describes, you could set your clothes out the night before you wear them, make a weekly calendar for the meals you will cook, or simply have a planner keeping track of your daily tasks. These little forms of preparation minimize mistakes and can make your workload more manageable. This quote can truly be used in multiple contexts.

Instead of just helping you manage your daily chores or tasks, it can also give you a more analytical way of thinking. Is this the most efficient way to get this task done? How can I make it easier on myself? By planning beforehand, you can start seeing ways to make your life easier.

When things go back to normal and we can socialize more often, we need to be prepared. This comes in the form of being informed about world events. We can be “victorious warriors” by reading up on our history, news, and general knowledge. This will allow us to be able to converse with anyone and will make social interaction easier. Preparation takes many forms. We can prepare for certain tasks or simple discussions. Being prepared is critical in order to prevent us from fighting uphill battles. With the extra time you have now, start thinking about how you can make your daily tasks easier to manage and complete.

When Sun Tzu wrote this above quote in his book, The Art of War, he meant for it to prepare generals for armed conflict. Lucky for us, it is a multi-use quote that can make our lives richer, easier, and more productive. It has certainly helped me, and I guarantee it will help you, if taken to heart. Always remember, when you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Thank you for reading. 

• James Durdan works on the family farm in Grand Ridge, and enjoys writing about history's philosophers and how their enigmatic quotations relate to today's world. He can be reached at

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