When I was a kid, I used to love playing the game of Risk. It’s a game of global conquest in which each of the seven continents is broken up into segments that can be occupied by a player. If you occupy an entire continent, you get a bonus number of reinforcements at the end of each round that is reflective of the size and defensibility of the continent. My opponents would often dismiss the continent of Australia as occupying it resulted in the least number of reinforcements per round. However, Australia offered an enormous strategic advantage as it only had four segments to occupy and it only had one entry point. If someone occupied it early in the game, they could devote all of their available resources (including the bonus reinforcements) to that one entry point, making the continent nearly impenetrable. While the rest of the players battled it out in the open territory, spreading their resources out too thin. The player who occupied Australia could sit back and build up a solid army. When big enough, they could begin slowly moving their forces outward, gaining and securing territory in slow but steady progression.
No, this isn’t a post about global domination, but the example above provides some valuable insight to the importance of strategic positioning. It doesn’t matter how good our health and wellness strategies are if we can’t position ourselves to ensure their success. Especially, when we have busy lives complete with children and full-time employment, it’s easy to spread ourselves too thin while battling against time and the carrying out of responsibilities. Our health and wellness goals will often be doomed to failure if we can’t position ourselves to function as efficiently as possible. If there isn’t a variety of quality food sources near where you live, and if you can’t exercise conveniently and enjoyably within your immediate surroundings, you’re likely to fail to eat well or get adequate exercise. Nobody I know enjoys moving, but sometimes it’s necessary. When playing Risk, I used to go all in at the beginning of the game to ensure I could occupy and hold Australia. Sometimes we need to go all in to position ourselves to make the most of our lives.
When my wife and I found out we were going to have our fourth child, we knew a move was necessary, but we knew we couldn’t just settle for something that was the right size. We needed convenience now more so than ever. There are many grocery stores in town that are now providing varieties of fresh made meals, and we wanted to be close to at least one or two of them. We wanted to be near our favorite farmer’s market. We wanted to be able to step outside our front door and have an enjoyable walk or bike ride. We wanted at least one good park nearby, and we wanted to be around decent schools. Of course, we also needed to find a home with a reasonable price tag. We gave our realtor a list of preferences that seemed to indicate we were looking for a unicorn, but somehow, he found it. I don’t know how we would function if we weren’t positioned where we are.
Sure, it’s nice to be able to ride my bike to the farmer’s market on Saturday morning or take a walk on one of the local trails, but during the workweek, our home is a circus. We have the clown car act, the tightrope act, the juggling act, and we know that without the right conditions in place, it could all result in disaster. I’m not saying everyone needs to move. Maybe your job isn’t the best fit, or maybe you could leverage your position a little better by negotiating a telework agreement (I’ve done that as well). If you aren’t able to meet your needs where you are, maybe it’s time to reposition yourself. Examine your game board. Look for the position that would give you the most strategic advantage, and don’t be afraid to make your move…