2 min read

The Reverse Spell: The Magic of Backward Planning

The Reverse Spell: The Magic of Backward Planning
Photo by National Historical Museum of Sweden (NHM) / Unsplash

José Raúl Capablanca, a chess master who knew a thing or two about playing the long game, once said, “To begin, you must study the end.” Seneca preached the same sermon: “Our plans miscarry because they have no aim.” If you don’t know where you’re heading, any road will get you there, and usually, it’s a dead end."

James Clear throws down the gauntlet:

"What's the magical outcome your chasing?"

Cool, now let's hit reverse and chart the course back from that dream to the very seat you're planted in. We're mapping the journey from your castle in the clouds right down to the dirt under your feet.

Once you've sketched that path, the game's all about patience and consistency—sticking to the script, day in and day out. But here's the kicker: you've also got to keep your head on a swivel, ready to bob and weave.

Sure, shedding 30 pounds in 9 months looks good on paper, but life's a wild card. It'll toss curveballs, fastballs, and the occasional knuckleball your way when you least expect it. Flexibility isn't just key; it's your survival kit.

Life has its own agenda. Generally, things shake out one of two ways: they either fall into place, or they scatter to the winds. And when they scatter, that's when the real fun begins. You pivot, you adapt, you draft a plan B.

And let's be real here—life is pretty much a series of plan Bs, Cs, and on through the alphabet. There’s nothing wrong with plan B. Or plans L, M, N, O, P.

The SEALs have a saying,

"Two is one and one is none."

It's a stark reminder that without a fallback, you're flying blind. This mantra isn't just about gear or weapons; it's about the very essence of being prepared, of never relying on a single plan. SEALs might as well hold advanced degrees in contingency planning, their lives a testament to the art of the backup plan. These warriors don't just prepare; they overprepare, understanding that in the absence of a plan B, you're not just vulnerable—you're unarmed.


In the trenches of everyday life, just as in the heat of war, planning separates the dreamers from the doers. Omar Bradley, a titan of World War II, once laid it out in no uncertain terms:

“Amateurs talk strategy and professionals talk logistics.”

He wasn't just talking about battle plans; he was underscoring the monumental difference between merely spinning your wheels and moving forward with purpose and precision. It's one thing to sketch out your goals on the back of a napkin; it's another to map out the nitty-gritty steps to get there.