Preparation vs Improvisation - Who Wins?


Okay, everyone, it’s social experiment time. I am going to need all of you to follow along accordingly and participate. Hands up if you have ever procrastinated on an assignment? Hands up if you have ever started studying the night before for a test? Now keep those hands up if you have ever gone into an exam barely knowing anything about the subject matter but prayed and said: “Jesus take the wheel,” and you came out with a grade acceptable enough to share with friends in a group chat? If you answered yes to any these of questions, you are part of the lifestyle called “improvisation,” which I will get back to later on.

Now, put your pinkies up if you have ever studied a week in advance for a test? Put your pinkies up if you have ever prepared for a school presentation in advance. Keep those pinkies up if you have ever prepared emotionally for an 8 am lecture in -28°C degrees weather on a Monday morning. If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are included in the lifestyle of “preparation,” which I will cover right about… now.

The Question

Thank you to all who participated in my social experiment- your efforts are greatly appreciated. The reason for these questions was to have you think about preparation vs improvisation, and how this comparison applies to ongoing situations in our lifestyle. If we look at preparation on its own, we can understand its value and why we need to have it in our lives but not apply it to every situation. Improvisation also has its place but has to be used appropriately before recklessness and carelessness creep into our habits. 

So who wins between preparation and improvisation? You may already have your answer in your head but when we look at both closely, there is a fair chance for both sides to win. Let’s breakdown both words closely down below.

Why Do We Prepare?


To prepare creates confidence, and confidence is a key part of achieving anything you set out to do. 

The word “pre” is defined as in advance, beforehand or prior to, which explains everything we need to know when we think about it. You pre before you go to the club, you take pre-workout before going to the gym, and you pre(e) someone you like on social media before deciding to take them seriously (ha). You are mentally and physically preparing yourself for something in advance so that the shock aspect of not knowing what is going on is eliminated from the equation completely (well, most of the time, because life happens, you know?).

The reason why we prepare beforehand is because preparation allows us to:

a) be comfortable in the subject matter 

b) be confident of how to handle the subject

c) have the ability to express ourselves accordingly when that subject matter is placed before us. 

Take the written portion of a driving test as an example. You study the symbols and rules of the road before doing the test. Why? 

a) To be comfortable in knowing what the symbols and rules are

b) To be confident of explaining how you know what the symbols and rules are

c) To have the ability to express your comprehension of the rules/symbols by taking the test and receiving a passing grade.

Preparation is relevant and will continue to be relevant as time goes on. Making the proper arrangements beforehand and taking the necessary time to think and consider other variables before you do something is integral to completing any tasks. 

But, like with anything, life happens and some situations you can’t prepare for. It is what it is but it also makes sense. You can’t prepare for every single thing in your life, so what happens when you don’t prepare for something in advance?

The Art of Winging It


Go with the flow. Just do what your heart feels. Be there in the moment and see what comes out of it. Put your pinkies and hands up if… nah I’m just playing around. But think about how many times you have heard those expressions before and how useful they are. The expressions above are related to the art of improvisation or “to wing it.”

 To improvise is to do something without much practice or preparation. You simply just do, say, or express how you are in that moment with minimal thought behind it. Imagine if everyone just improvised everything they do…

People improvise because it reveals the true authenticity within themselves. It shows your natural state without overthinking or regurgitation of someone else’s opinion weighing in on how you feel or think. It is a refreshing and satisfying feeling when you have an idea and execute it freely without a script or someone who has experience telling you how to do it by the book.

Take the example of interacting with someone you are attracted to. Do you have a script of what you are going to say to them? Do you follow a strict breakdown of how you are going to lead up to asking them their zodiac sign? Or are you going to go with the flow of the conversation and respond according to how you interact with each other? You both speak and live in the moment and see what comes from it. Relationships that are built naturally without forced conversations tend to last longer and are much more enjoyable in the long run. There is beauty in randomness (sometimes, don’t get carried away).

Improvisation can generate some of the best social interactions, experiences, and moments in life. Something about not having a plan, winging it, and good things coming out of it sounds pleasing to the ear, doesn’t it? But trust me, there is a time and place for everything, and improvisation is included.

Do They Coexist?


A healthy balance between preparation and improvisation can guarantee the best of times. Think of a vacation — you plan and prepare where you are going to stay and for how long, but the activities you partake in is all improv. Sure, you might have an itinerary, but wouldn’t you rather take a couple of things from it and just explore from there?

You can’t go with the flow with everything, and you also can’t plan for everything perfectly. Life isn’t that nice to us. But take what you can and control what you can control. Study for your test in advance because improvising for a test lowers your chances of succeeding. Improvise when talking to someone you like because that’s more exciting and authentic than following a script of pickup lines. There’s proof that both coexist, and to balance out the equation, you have to embrace both in the applicable circumstances. That’s the best answer you will hear from us.

More to Come

What did you think of this comparison? If you liked it, let us know in the comments and more will follow in the future! Thanks for reading, share with a friend, and answer the question down below!

Which do you do more: Prepare or Improvise?

1 comment

  • Great read


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