I was standing by my locker drying off from my shower. I reached into my gym bag and pulled out the clothes I had packed the night before: underwear, nice shirt, sweater, shoes, and … yoga pants. Oops!

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I live by routines. One of my routines is to pack my gym bag before I go to bed. But Sunday night was a late one and my husband had already fallen asleep. Not wanting to disturb him (aren’t I nice?), I packed by the dim light of a bedside lamp. So, knowing where everything is, I grabbed what I thought were my black slacks. Except they weren’t.

This has happened before. Once I pulled out two different boots from my gym bag.

It’s always the same crowd in the locker room, and there’s no arguing we’re an odd bunch. After all, we’re volunteers to be awake before dawn and sweating while the rest of the world is still comfortably asleep. The locker room is always quiet at that hour, save the white noise of the shower or a hair dryer. So after I shrieked “Are you KIDDING me?” met by “Are you okay?” “Do you need anything?” “What happened?” I took a breath, and said simply “Ladies – today’s lesson is: Don’t pack in the dark!”

It’s just human nature to believe that we know what we know. So as I pack my gym bag in the dark, I know my black slacks are in the bottom drawer. I know what they feel like, I remember they were on top of the stack when I put the laundry away. I just saw them there.

But I didn’t really know, did I? This entire situation reminds me of just how important it is to use all of our senses and to confirm what we think we know.

It’s a good metaphor for our professional lives as well. If I’m honest with myself I “pack in the dark” at work more than I should. When I have made a flawed choice it can often be tracked back to a lack of information. I do this by neglecting to ask “Is there anything else I need to consider?” or by failing to consult with the right people before making a decision. Or I’m rushed, and skip a step I should have taken. In short, I’m packing in the equivalent of a dark room.

In life and at work, the message I’m getting from those yoga pants and mismatched boots is slow down. Confirm what you think you know. Remember that something you hadn’t anticipated could have changed since you last checked. Like, for example, someone else doing laundry and nicely putting your clothes away.

You know what, though? The other lesson here is to let things go when you mess up. Have a laugh at yourself. Why not? After all, I’m sure there were a few snickers at the office when people saw that get-up I was wearing on Monday!