I see this sign to and from my way to work every day. It’s posted on the side of the road year round and I read it each and every time I drive by.
I love this sign. Let me tell you why.
This sign reminds me to be prepared. In the winter time I am reminded literally to be prepared about this section of the street as the open fields on either side of it allow for continuous blowing and drifting snow. The blowing and drifting often make the section of the road marked with these signs a bit treacherous at times. I am also reminded throughout the other 3 (usually non-snow) seasons that I should be prepared because ANYTHING could happen.
Now I don’t mean that I am always living life in a state of worry or even anxious anticipation. There is enough stress in life without being constantly worried or anxious about what may happen next, especially from reading a road sign. I try to remember to put my trust in God when I have those moments (days, weeks) which are worrisome and when I find myself fretting over things which are beyond my control. Things like the actions of others, what others are thinking/believing, and how their actions, however insensitive or unkind, may continue to affect me or my loved ones are issues which I don’t have much control over. Usually I am wise enough to remember that it is only the ways in which I choose to deal with and handle those concerns which I can directly control.
Preparedness is much different than worry, however. Preparedness is about being mentally ready for things in life which may happen and to not only be ready for them, but also ‘being ready’ in knowing how to deal with them.
I know it is not always possible to be ‘ready’ for everything which may occur or happen to us, or even because of us, but I do find that being prepared to handle things as they may come makes a lot of sense.
Mental preparedness can be associated with traumatic events (such as mentally preparing for survival, emergencies, or disasters), and it’s even connected to preparing to change one’s lifestyle as in quitting a habit or beginning an exercise regime or diet. But mental preparedness can also be appropriate and relevant to handling crises in the smaller, everyday life occurrences as well.
Mental preparedness is not tensely waiting for the worst, but being ready to accept things as they come.
Mental preparedness is not being completely set in our ways, but being flexible enough to go with the flow and roll with the punches.
Mental preparedness is being ready for whatever may come.
Mental preparedness is also the belief that we can make things happen and that we can have faith in ourselves to overcome whatever is in our way whether it be self-doubt, weakness, or uncertainty.
Being mentally prepared also means that we strive to become mentally strong. One way to build this is through self-talk – turning pain or discomfort into a positive, perhaps by choosing a mantra or phrase which continues to motivate us to persevere.
Another way to build mental toughness is through breathing and/or meditation practices which can reduce stress and conserve energy in order to use it in more valuable ways such as problem-solving.
Chunking whatever challenge may face us into smaller issues or tasks is another effective way to build up strength in mental preparedness. If we place our focus on these smaller steps and set mini goals we will be less likely to become overwhelmed with the larger picture.
Visualizing is often an important key to preparing to handle whatever may be presented to us. Mentally rehearsing and picturing what a successful outcome will look and sound like helps to answer the questions, ‘How will I overcome this challenge?’ and ‘What will it feel like to get through this?’
Reading that road sign every day helps me to remember that life is a series of drifting snow events.
I need to hold on to the steering wheel, scan the road in front of me, and remember to have faith because whatever drifting snow may lie ahead, I will strive to be prepared for it.