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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

The 6 P's


In certain units of the United States military, there’s an adage used to promote planning in the interest of achieving one’s personal interests and goals, as well as those which relate to a unit. Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance, or “the 6 P’s,” is an easy enough concept for people to understand.


In other military circles, the aphorism is increased to “the 7 P’s,” indicating that Proper Planning and Preparation Prevent Piss Poor Performance. While both axioms allude to the same concept, I argue that planning and preparation may be incorporated into a single element.


Planning indicates the process of making plans for something. Preparation regards the action or process of making ready or being made ready for use or consideration.


In this way, planning is a cognitive process and preparation is a behavioral process. Nevertheless, when planning for a mission, another military dictum is “two is one and one is none,” indicating that resources expire and having additional assets readily available is advisable.


When planning, one can actively prepare for such real-world challenges to a particular strategy. Therefore, I advocate the 6 P’s versus the 7 P’s, for the sake of simplicity. Moreover, it’s relatively factual to maintain that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.


How might the 6 P’s relate to one’s mental, emotional, and behavioral health?


Through my personal practice of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), I acknowledge how little control or influence I have over most elements of life. This fact alludes to the need for redundancy planning, because unknown-unknown variables will inevitably occur and I have no command over such matters.


Even when planning, I understand that flexible preparation is the key. After all, if I were to use rigid planning and my irrational beliefs about how things should, must, or ought to go my way were inevitably infringed upon, I’d disturb myself into an unpleasant mood through use of unhelpful assumptions.


To live rationally, I attempt to properly plan—though I do so with understanding that rigidity of preparation isn’t in my best interest for goal attainment. Of course, there are alternatives to the 6 P’s.


For instance, one unconventional move in the opposite direction relates to misunderstanding of the late Alan Watts’ perspective. The speaker suggested:


Making plans for the future is of use only to people who are capable of living completely in the present, because when you make plans for the future and they mature, you are—if you can’t live in the present—you are not able to enjoy the future for which you have planned, because you will have in you a kind of syndrome whereby happiness consists in promises and not direct and immediate realizations, so long as you feel that tomorrow will come […] but everything is based on the idea, you see, that you will get it tomorrow and you can enjoy yourself today, so long as tomorrow looks bright. But Confucius once said a man who understands the Dao in the morning can die contentedly in the evening. That is to say if you have ever lived one complete moment, you can be ready to die. You can say, “Well, that was it. That was the good—I’ve had it,” you see? But if you never live that complete moment, death is always a guy who, like, comes into a bar at two o’clock in the morning and says, “Time, gentlemen, please.” And you say, “Oh, please, one more drink. Not yet.”


I’ve heard some people miscomprehend Watts’ message by asserting that there’s no need to plan, because living in the moment is the only rational course of action. After all, tomorrow is an un-promised illusion; therefore, eat, drink, and be merry today, because tomorrow we may die.


With this profound proposition, one may as well never save money for the future, take preventative health measures, plan for one’s next meal, and so forth and so on. Misunderstanding Watts’ message can have profound consequences on one’s finite life cycle.


For instance, I mentioned meal preparation. To illustrate a point, consider a personal anecdote. I enjoy overnight oats. After each time that I consume the mixture of oats, chia seeds, cinnamon, and other ingredients, I prepare a portion for the next day.


Even when planning for a trip, I prepare overnight oats for my journey. I find that this mixture suits my interests and fulfills the goal for living a healthy life. Perhaps overnight oats isn’t preferred by others, though I recognize the limits of control and influence, so I’m unconcerned about what other people consume or what they believe about my nutritional options.


Suppose I were to miscomprehend Watts’ message by concluding that living only in this moment is necessary, what may be a consequence of my misunderstanding while practicing inaction regarding the 6 P’s? For one, my gut health would likely suffer.


As well, each morning when I was hungry on my trip, I may waste the valuable resource of time by needing to figure out what I would eat in the moment. Additionally, I may overspend by venturing out into the area I’m visiting and spending money not only on fuel though on varied food options.


Although none of these consequences are particularly detrimental to my existence, I find that proper planning prevents piss poor performance. Therefore, I properly plan to prevent piss poor gut health and as a means of saving money, which is the sort of performance I flexibly desire in order to improve my life.


Given the 6 P’s strategy outlined herein, how might you adapt this approach in your own life? If you’d like to know more about how pragmatic techniques such as this may better serve your interests and goals, I’m here to help.


If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.


As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.


At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!



Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW




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