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Go Ahead-Count Those Chickens Before They Hatch

“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” I’ve heard that one all my life. Here’s what the Cambridge Dictionary has to say about this old adage; “you should not make plans that depend on something good happening before you know that it has actually happened 

This is a terrible message for any of us, especially our youth, it implies that any good thing happening is a matter of some kind of chance or luck; that life is some kind of lottery where good things happen randomly only to the “lucky” onesWhen something goes wrong or we otherwise suffer, we think it’s just bad luck. In the United States, our society is full of messages that tell us we’re supposed to suffer. The pharmaceutical ads tell us that we’re either sick or we’re going to become sick. One ad the other night showed individual shots of children, sad faced, each shot including a numerical statistic showing the chances that the child would contract some terrible disease. In high school once, a teacher told us that fifty percent of us would be involved in a horrible auto accident. He said, “Now, look at the person next to you and think about which one of you it will be.” 

Many psychologists know that people actually have a lot of control over the outcome of their lives by learning to think positively and consciously making plans for good things to happen. The brain has a way of driving you toward your goals, indeed, a good life once you make a decision to change it for the better. There are plenty of people that have taken control of their lives by the choices they make and a change in the way they think. Life does not have to be controlled by circumstances or bad luck. 

Good things come about when we think about them, working toward making them happened rather than “not making plans that depend on something good happening before it happens.” As we’ve learned over the last couple of years, the first step in making those plans, which depend on good things happening, starts with writing them down. There are many examples of the power of written thought in a book by Henriette Anne Klauser called “Write It Down, Make It Happen: Knowing What You Want And Getting It.” Writing down your goals can also help clarify them. A banker friend of mine once told me he liked to tell kids visiting the bank that he was going to give them a magic wand to make their dreams come true. Before the kids left the building, he gave them all a pencil and told them the “magic” of making their dreams come true is to write them down. We all need such a magic wand. 

Thought is powerful and writing down the thoughts makes them more powerful, but we don’t always control the time-table on which our thoughts produce the results we think we want. The rest of the equation has to do with the way we respond to set-backs and delays in realizing our dreams. Having a growth mindset means that the journey is more important than the end result. If we spend our lives always learning new things as we take incremental steps toward our goals, we’ll have the persistence to accomplish those goals. And, we’ll have the wisdom to realize, that what we wanted or needed in the past may not be what we want or need now. It’s okay to change our goals along the way. 

Our youth, and all of us, need to know that it’s okay to count our chickens before they hatch, that is, we should all make plans based on the good things that we can make happen, not waiting around for good things happen by chance. 

Jim Correll is the director of Fab Lab ICC at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship on the campus of Independence Community College. He can be reached at (620) 252-5349 or by email at Archive columns and podcasts at 

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