What does this actually mean and how can you apply it to your life?
Mental frontloading simply stated is being prepared for any and every thing that could/might happen within any given situation. Let me give an example and how it’s helped me.
Vacationing with kids.
Really vacation and kids sounds like an oxymoron to have in the same sentence, but with enough mental frontloading it can be done. Joy can be felt and wonderful memories made as you dot your “I’s” and cross your “T’s” as much as you can.
Flying in an airplane is a fun experience for children. Getting to be in the air, go to a fun place, watch movies or play on electronics the entire time, and have snacks and soda brought to you on demand. I mean that’s the kids dream, right?
But there are definitely some drawbacks.
If flying for a long time or overnight, the ability to sleep is less than enjoyable. Getting up and going to the small bathroom a million times gets frustrating. Not to mention the possibility of motion sickness or severe ear pain. Mental frontloading for such a trip is necessary as a parent who loves their children and who doesn’t want to inflict unnecessary annoyances to innocent passengers.
Taking gum for ear pain, lots of snacks that digest well, a supply of oils to prevent motion sickness and downloading every show or movie that would interest them is part of the mental frontloading for our trips. Sometimes we don’t actually need everything I’ve packed, but at least I’m ready.
(One thing Tyler reminded me I needed to remember for future trips is an extra set of clothes in the carryon in case the motion sickness methods didn’t’ work out. Wearing an oversized pink Denver Colorado shirt with a hair tie to keep it from falling off his shoulders became a highlighted conversation for many interested bystanders.)
Another necessity for mental frontloading on vacations with kids is enough activities and enough downtime. That one I’m still trying to figure out! I like to go and do everything exciting on vacation in case we don’t get the chance to return. My husband usually agrees with my desires to play all day, but the kids not so much. Their idea of a great time is watching movies in their room while jumping on the beds eating poptarts., since we don’t do those things at home. Coming up with activities that all will enjoy is a form of mental frontloading so all will appreciate the vacation. I have to be okay with the downtime and they have to be okay with the activities, preferably mixing it up each day.
Eating on vacation is a form of mental frontloading that takes me a lot of time to prepare well for. We choose to stay in rental properties over hotels so that we have more room and a full sized kitchen so I can prepare most of our meals. I enjoy cooking but not the cleanup so we invest in paper products. (I still want to feel like I’m on vacation and not cleaning all the time) I enjoy saving money on food so we can spend it on the activities so I make some of our favorites that will leave us full and happy. I enjoy feeling good on vacation which requires that I eat well myself without the sugar rushes of the normal vacation diet. My kids appreciate having a treat every night, and I love watching the excitement when we tell them yes. All around, preparing and planning meals for vacations is one of my least favorite but most appreciated forms of mental frontloading.
Mental frontloading is a key trait to possess in all situations of our lives. We shouldn’t overanalyze every event to the point that it drives us crazy, but we should be prepared for the highs and lows so that we can appreciate the experiences more. Oftentimes we are frustrated or annoyed when we’ve been thrown off from what we expected, but that doesn’t mean we give up on how we can handle it well in the moment or prepare better next time.
Mental frontloading is a continuous journey we must pursue throughout life. Every day we have the opportunity to prepare and be successful, prepare and not be successful but know how to change it for the future, or not prepare and be upset and not progress.
Progression is a result of continuous efforts to be your best.
If you’ve viewed life as an “up in the air” experience and haven’t been happy with the outcomes, give mental frontloading a try. Write it down or think it over before you enter the situation/event/experience. If you have spent your life preparing and it hasn’t worked the way you want it to, go about it a different way, don’t give up!
At the end of the day, you have two questions to ask yourself. Are you going to be proud of your efforts, or are you going to notice the opportunities to make a change?