Why Failing to Prepare Means Preparing to Fail

Mealeatey Meak
Cambodian Education Forum
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
January 13, 2021


According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the word “prepare” means making or getting something or someone ready for something that will happen in the future or expecting something will occur and be equipped for it. People who fail to develop goals quickly generally lose their way. Since they do not establish their goals, they give up when facing life challenges (MBA Rendezvous, 2019). All successful people know the importance of preparation; athletes, musicians, and businesspeople all know the significance of sufficient planning.

According to Benjamin Franklin, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” (MBA Rendezvous, 2019). This is true because when goals are not set in life, the prospect for success tends to be slim.

“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail” is a remarkable quote to help reiterate what is necessary to achieve any goal. Also, anyone can use this saying to stay attentive and to avoid being easily distracted.

The quote is particularly useful in a situation where we are faced with an uncertain future. To be successful, we need to prepare; this might involve learning, practicing, making, or planning something (Welch, 2020). If we do not complete the preparation adequately, we may not succeed; hence, we are preparing to fail. What it means is “by failing to prepare, you are setting yourself up to fail” or “by failing to prepare you are creating a situation in which you’re likely to fail.” (Welch, 2020).

Why Preparation Matters?

Things happen, sometimes we expect it, and sometimes we do not (Philosiblog, 2013). Success only comes to those with determination and concrete goals. However, successful people may have short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals (MBA Rendezvous, 2019). The difference between these types of goals is our level of preparedness. If we are prepared, we can make things work out for the best. If we are not ready, our odds of success or even of surviving the situation are considerably diminished (Philosiblog, 2013).

Bobby Unser once said, “success is where preparation and opportunity meet,” and Alexander Graham Bell thought something similar. As Bell believed, “before anything else, preparation is the key to success” (Barnard, n.d.). Both men agree that success is an outcome of sufficient preparation.

It is essential that no matter how skilled, talented, or knowledgeable we are in our respective fields, we must spend time preparing (Mayberry, 2016). We need to prepare for the next step, the next goal, or the next big moment when it arises because who knows when it will come (Mayberry, 2016). The biggest regrets are mostly from individuals who failed to grasp a window of opportunity because they were not prepared for the exact moment, be it a job interview or an exam. Nothing is worse than feeling your dreams close enough to touch, yet they slip through your finger, never to return.

People frequently mention their wishes for riches, owning a business, driving an expensive car, or living in a large estate. The list of desires goes on and on. Those who have these dreams may fail to reach their goals if they do not prepare to succeed. They do not want to put in the time and effort. Everyone is looking to get rich quick, but those opportunities do not exist. Even when people win the lottery, they can become broke because they did not prepare to handle that quantity of money. Those people, somehow, do not know how to manage their fortune, and they cannot invest and save. So, a massive prospect like that can fade away into nothing. Deep down, we all know there is no quick way to become wealthy instantly. It takes time and good preparation to accumulate a vast sum of riches.

Furthermore, success takes time, discipline, thought, efforts, research, organization, and even meditation. Preparedness is an investment in yourself, your product, and your business, and those who are adequately prepared are usually noticed by others. If you want to create possibilities, prime yourself for success and capitalize on each opportunity. It would be best if you began to prepare as if every day presented unique chances but maintained a preparedness lifestyle (Mayberry, 2016).

The quote by Benjamin Franklin above means that if we do not prepare, then we are setting ourselves up for failure. Conversely, if we do prepare, then we are setting ourselves up for success. So, do not take away your chance before it is given by forgetting to prepare for reasonable circumstances.

When I was in the first year of my bachelor’s degree, I applied to volunteer for the first time. I passed the initial round and then moved to the interview round. Honestly, things were simple for me, and I did not prepare much for the interview because I did not know how to prepare. Moreover, I felt that the interview was not difficult because they would ask general questions. I was not well prepared. When the final day came, I went to the interview without any preparation. I was puzzled by almost every question. The reason for this was because I had many ideas bouncing in my head, but I could not find the right words. My thoughts did not flow well because I did not prepare. As a result, I failed the interview. I was not setting myself up for success.

As a result of this failure, I realized that I would have a better outcome if I had prepared before the interview. I believe If we know about a particular event ahead of time and choose to not prepare for it, our chances of succeeding are very slim. We should not cheat ourselves by being lazy. If we have an interview, we should always be preparing for one of two things: preparing for the interview or preparing to fail by failing to prepare.


To sum up, preparation is crucial, and we should always be preparing for events in life, be it an exam, a sporting event, or a business venture, to set ourselves up for success. It is, no doubt, true that if we do not prepare, then we are preparing to fail. Thus, the quote “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” helps remind us how valuable it is to prepare thoroughly for our goals. This quote should be a part of our daily routine.

I believe that preparation is integral to success in any field or any situation. We need a plan to accomplish our goals, and if we are hardworking and prepared in advance, we will succeed in our ventures. Preparation is the key to success. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.


Barnard, A. (n.d.). 4 Powerful benefits to being prepares. Inspire for Life Coachinghttps://www.inspireforlifecoaching.com/personal-development/4-powerful-benefits-prepared/

Mayberry, M. (2016, April 22). By failing to prepare, you are indeed preparing to fail. Entrepreneur Asia Pacific. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/274494

MBA Rendezvous. (2019, April 26). By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. MBA Rendezvous. https://www.mbarendezvous.com/essay/by-failing-to-prepare-you-are-preparing-to-fail/

Philosiblog. (2013, March 4). By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. Philosiblog. https://philosiblog.com/2013/03/04/by-failing-to-prepare-you-are-preparing-to-fail/

Welch, J. (2020, March 20). What does “by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail” mean?  Quora. https://www.quora.com/What-does-by-failing-to-prepare-you-are-preparing-to-fail-mean

The Author

Mealeatey Meak is an intern at Cambodian Education Forum. She is in her fourth year of a bachelor’s degree in Economics Development at the Royal University of Law and Economics.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s