Rethinking Idioms #3: We Will Cross That Bridge

So far in the ‘Rethinking Idioms’ series, I have analysed the idioms: ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’, and ‘A bird at hand is worth ten in the bush’. In today’s entry, I will analyse the idiom:

We will cross that bridge when we get there

What if I told you that you can cross that bridge before you get there – figuratively speaking? Okay, I know it sounds like I might be pushing it a bit with this one, but hear me out first.

The ‘we will cross that bridge’ idiom is typically used as an excuse to procrastinate – you don’t have to worry about that issue now because you will deal with it when it comes up.

But such an approach can prevent you from planning effectively, which can lead to you making poor decisions in the spur of the moment. When I say you should cross that bridge before you get there, I simply mean that you should plan out in advance the steps you will take to cross the bridge. If you do this, when you get there you will not need to worry about what to do because you have already thought about it in advance.

I know that you cannot always plan effectively. You might get to the bridge and see something that you did not anticipate, which will effectively ruin your plans. The biggest practical example of this is the coronavirus crisis, which pretty much disrupted everyone’s plans. None of us could have tried to cross this bridge before getting here, because we could not have anticipated it.

But I don’t think this undermines my argument. Plans are meant to be used as guides, not as rigid roadmaps that must be followed at all costs. It is common knowledge that plans might be disrupted by other events, which is why it is good to make room for flexibility. You might not follow your plans to the last letter, but if you have them there to guide you, then you are likely to make better decisions that someone who has no plans and is just ‘winging’ it.

If you have any bridge that you have put off crossing until you get there, I would encourage you to start planning now on how to cross it. Sure, you might end up crossing it in a slightly different way than you had anticipated. But if you plan for it now, then you are likely to be more effective at crossing it later. And, as a bonus, planning now about how to cross that bridge means that you will relieve yourself of future stress when you eventually get there.

So I challenge you: start planning how to cross that bridge now!

More in this series:


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6 thoughts on “Rethinking Idioms #3: We Will Cross That Bridge

  1. I’ve always honestly admired this idiom ever since I’ve heard of it. Probably because it gives some kind of comfort when saying it, kind of like “don’t worry about it now,” because worrying now for something you don’t even know will happen in the future, can affect our current state, but these thoughts are absolutely right too, there’s nothing wrong with being ready. Thanks for this!

    Liked by 1 person

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