Coming off a whirlwind of a year in 2020, as we faced unprecedented circumstances, there were certainly a number of hard lessons learned as we sailed through unchartered territory. For many individuals, the biggest lesson was perhaps the realization that they simply were not prepared for the changes they now had to face. Although grudgingly learned, these lessons have brought rise to an overwhelming emphasis on having a positive outlook to live a simple and more enjoyable life.

So what if we ignored conventional wisdom and started sweating the small stuff?

In his book, An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth, Col. Chris Hadfield states, “An astronaut who doesn’t sweat the small stuff is a dead astronaut.” We may not all face the same intense decision making required of an astronaut but the point is a good one. Paying attention to the granular details made a substantial difference in Hadfield’s life and career. If we had focused on the more granular details of our lives, building a good and balanced life, perhaps our finances, jobs, and personal relationships would have been better insulated against the hardships of a turbulent time like we all just experienced.

We cannot always control what happens in life. We can control how prepared we are. No matter what life event you are experiencing, be it retirement, career change, or starting a family, planning for success is crucial. Depending on your level of preparation, you will have passed or failed before you began. Hadfield even argues we should visualize failure and not success to better prepare. Break down each situation, look at every angle and then formulate your plan.

And, of course, even after all that preparation, things can go wrong. C’est la vie. Oui? The best thing one can do for themselves, their family or their team, is to hold on to that sense of calm being prepared can bring. By sweating the small stuff (without letting anyone see you sweat of course!), you will be better positioned to navigate gracefully through almost any situation.