Premeditatio Malorum

Every plan must account for what might go wrong. Premeditate evils or they will own you.

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” — Mike Tyson

Chaos unravels the best laid plans.

Like the boxer who falls victim to a hard right cross on the chin, you better come up with something quick before the count reaches ten. If you haven’t thought through what might go wrong, life will make short work of you.

Every plan must include alternatives. Premeditatio malorum is the premeditation of evils. What can go wrong likely will. Don’t be surprised by that right cross. Expect it. Train for it. Defend against it.

A good plan considers what comes next when the happy path runs through a land mine. “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” [Benjamin Franklin] Don’t be that person. “Chaos is roving through the system and able to undo, at any point, the best laid plans.” [Terence McKenna]

The ancient Stoics hoped for the best but planned for the worst. “Nothing happens to the wise man against his expectation... nor do all things turn out for him as he wished but as he reckoned — and above all he reckoned that something could block his plans.” [Seneca]

Consider the following questions in each step of your next plan:

  • What could possibly go wrong?

  • What is my next best option?

  • What am I willing to give up?

  • How can I still succeed?

Even after considering all of the alternatives, you must understand the risks. Your plan may still fail, and you must be ready to accept that fact. You gave it your best shot, and regardless of the outcome, you’re okay with it and ready to move on.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, not the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” [Charles Darwin] Your ability to plan for negative outcomes, to accept what fate brings and to adapt accordingly is the key to survival, happiness and growth.

  1. Plan for the worst.

  2. Hope for the best.

  3. Accept the outcome.

  4. Learn and adapt.

  5. Conquer the next hill.

Premeditatio malorum. Premeditate evils.