This article is also available on The Positivity Project’s website.
I’m somebody who values living in the moment and working with what you have presently. Yet, I have learned to mix that in with preparing for the future, which has made me realize how important prudence is to our everyday lives.
As defined by The Positivity Project, prudence means planning for the future and achieving your goals by making careful everyday choices. P2 Partner Schools teach students that it’s a strength of the head rather than of the heart. It reminds us that we not only have to do the right thing, but we have to do it for the right reasons as well, and things don’t always work out that way.
Often times, we have ulterior motives — we do something not because it’s the right thing to do, but because it will make us look good. That’s the opposite of what this trait stands for. If you do something to make yourself look good, that means you really didn’t do it out of kindness and just did it for yourself.
In its simplest version, prudence is about being disciplined enough to achieve your goals.
Every accomplishment you’ve ever had began with a plan, and you executed that plan over and over, sometimes tweaking it a little bit, until you mastered it and reached your goal. We have an easy time coming up with the original plan, but that’s where the conversation typically ends. There may be action taken on the original plan, but if it doesn’t work to achieve our goal immediately, we crinkle it up and never think about it again.
The idea of staying focused and avoiding distractions is another aspect of prudence The Positivity Project emphasizes. That’s difficult for all of us to do, especially today when we can be connected to any piece of information at any point.
For me, when I get distracted, I have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and use my prudent muscle to think long-term. Instead of following our impulses to go do something more immediately satisfying — yet also less important — we need to be future-oriented and go do something that will push us towards our ultimate goals.
I struggle with this narrative all the time, especially when I get inundated with notifications while doing homework and studying for exams or writing articles.
But because I accomplish all of my school work and write articles on my iPad and have been for years, I have built a mindset where I force myself to stay focused until all my tasks are complete, lock into whatever I have to do, and ignore the distractions.
However, temporarily turning off notifications altogether doesn’t work for me. Whenever I try to do so, I find my attempt to focus will always be overpowered by my desire to be connected and I wonder what’s going on.
I know this is a generational thing, and some say notifications cause distractions, but I have learned that for me, trying to change my mindset and ignoring the fact that something could be going on would impact my work more than just having notifications pop up every now and then and deciding they aren’t as important as whatever I’m doing.
Of course, there are times when I get distracted, but I know how to get myself back on track, and that’s the most important piece. Nobody is saying that you can’t get distracted, because it’s impossible, but you can’t allow yourself to stay in the funk for too long.
The discipline aspect is what I think is the most important part of prudence. With social media, it’s easy to cross the line from doing work and being productive to vedging out and forgetting about what you have to do, and we have to be disciplined enough to save the entertainment and knock things off of our to-do lists.