When people hear the term “game ready,” they immediately think of athletics. Being game ready, however, applies to situations in life and business as well. As is the case for a great athlete, advanced preparation will allow you to achieve the best possible outcomes in your career and personal life.

Don’t get me wrong – we’re all guilty of sometimes procrastinating and avoiding tasks until absolutely necessary. But that means that, instead of being proactive, we are placing ourselves in reactive states and dealing with events after they have already happened. This results in unnecessarily elevated stress levels, costly financial challenges, and ultimately, missed opportunities.

With a little forethought and planning, however, you can be an MVP.

To help you begin, here are four keys to proactive preparation:

1. Start With a Self-Evaluation

To kickstart your proactive thinking, take out a piece of paper and make two columns. In one, list the personal challenges you are either currently facing or know that you will face; in the other column, do the same for business challenges.

Next, grade yourself on where you think you are with regard to preparation. Are you mostly prepared for upcoming responsibilities? If so, good for you! But I’m willing to bet that things are not quite as planned out as you’d like them to be.

2. Commit Time to Think

The best proactive thinkers and planners start by committing the time to think, not only about immediate tasks, but far into the future as well. While it may seem like a waste of resources in the moment because it’s not a physical activity that you can easily track, the mindfulness of laying out a path will be a worthy investment in the end.

3. Predict and Plan

Planners set long-term goals and anticipate events. Then, they work backward until they find themselves in the present. As a result of following this process, they are able to lay out effective plans because they understand and predict the gaps that will need to be filled in order to reach success. Pretty simple, huh?

4. Identify the Usual Suspects

In our personal lives, we often have predictable events in our futures, from relationship milestones (such as marriages and anniversaries) to parenting and sending children to college. Similarly, our work lives include known events like selecting and cultivating a career, starting and building a business, dealing with employee or client challenges, maintaining profitability, etc.

Absent a plan, we often keep these in the very backs of our minds until we can’t procrastinate anymore. When the time comes, we work to deal with them as quickly as possible. Instead, we should take time to outline the steps we’ll need to take to meet those big goals and challenges. If you do that, you will be able to confidently and quickly succeed.

Remember: Olympic athletes don’t accidentally end up at the top of the podium. They relentlessly prepare and execute their plans over and over again. If you aren’t comfortable in going through the process by yourself, reach out to a business coach or someone who can help you. In the end, the will to win means nothing without the will to prepare. Don’t get disappointed by the results because of the work you didn’t do. Get game ready.

This article originally appeared on Recruiter.com.