The uncertainty in life can be a challenge for anyone to navigate. Having a Plan B or a contingency plan can help steer your life in a productive and fulfilling way. It allows you to overcome fear, take greater risks in life and always be prepared.
Eggs in a Basket
Let’s start by discussing Plan A. It is the direction we choose to follow now. Setting up goals, writing a plan to follow and creating a step-by-step path often produce unwanted anxiety as you begin to take concrete actions to a particular plan. This is often due to fear of the unforeseen or contingencies that happen in life along our journey. Making decisions and intentions for your future and the focus of your energy in the present can be a daunting task. It is at this phase reflection on what could happen when all does not go according to plan can be a necessary step to ease the burden of investing in a Plan A. The adage is “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” and planning for the proverbial different baskets can provide us with a measure of freedom to more securely travel whatever road we choose at the moment.
Walking across a tightrope without a net can be a scary proposition to most people. The fear of crossing can debilitate any person trying to reach the destination across the circus tent. This is why it is so amazing to see the spectacle of the tightrope walker in midair. However, most people would rather walk their path with some sort of contingency plan in place to ensure a soft landing in case of the dreaded fall. Plan B can often be a necessary psychological step in moving forward on Plan A. It is as if we need to build a safety net that provides us with an extra measure of security to move forward on the path we have chosen for ourselves. Plan B or a contingency plan is exactly the alternative plan in case the first plan cannot be carried out as pre-defined or if a decision is made that the original plan will not result in the expected outcomes.
Most contingency plans in life are conceptualized due to fear of the future. Fear can be a positive motivator in the process of writing a Plan B. It can allow us to focus initially on the essential needs for survival but eventuality on essential needs for growth. A good plan Plan B also balances the short term goals with the long term goals. As we move from Plan A to Plan B the smoothness of the transition can be thought through with essential steps in pre-planning.
Greater Risk, Greater Reward
Plan B can allow you to take larger risks with whatever goals you are currently working on. The knowledge that if their is a failure at any point on your current path there is an alternative option that can allow you great freedom of thought and action. With greater risks come greater rewards as well as the possibility of greater failures. Plan B is the antidote for the fear of risk.
The first step in constructing a Plan B is define what are the deadlines, pivot points and decisions that must be made with regards to Plan A to determine if it is time to make a change. What are the crucial outcomes and measurable progress when determining whether Plan A is succeeding. This is the trigger point that we must define to begin to implement our Plan B or the contingency plan.
S.M.A.R.T. goals can help with making the final decision to move to Plan B or the contingency plan. S.M.A.R.T. goals are defined as goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. With this in mind a decision must be made as to whether the original goals can be attained with moderation or should a completely new contingency plan be undertaken. The trigger points should be built into the original plan with specific and measurable outcomes weighed for the decision to implement a Plan B. In addition, the unforeseen developments with regards to a plan should be assessed as possible risks and challenges that may make a Plan A unachievable or unrealistic within specific and measurable goals and time constraints.
Steps to building the contingency plan or Plan B:
-Develop an overarching vision for Plan B, like all good plans the vision is crucial to seeing the end result clearly in order to move forward on the path.
-Take an inventory of your skills, assets, network, education, energy, connections and time. This allow you the ability to see what is available to you currently and may illuminate a future path whether it is divergent or complementary.
-Invest time in researching a contingency plan. Set aside a small amount of time each week to work on Plan B even if Plan A is going smoothly. The results of this work can bring new insight or excitement to your current plan as well as provide a break from the routine of Plan A.
-Make your Plan B or the contingency plan a goal on the opposite end of a spectrum from what Plan A’s goals are defined as. This would provide a creative outlet or a nuts and bolts goal for the future to utilize all aspects of your skills and abilities. For instance, if your are an accountant, a goal such as a creative writing project may provide the balance of your skills or vice versa if you are a performer would starting to take classes to be a physical therapist excite you?
-Identify small steps that can be done in advance to prepare for the worst case scenario should Plan A have to be abandoned. These small steps can accumulate in time to reach a formidable body of work to mitigate any total disaster. Make sure these steps provide a level of fun or reward in your life as the enjoyable the tasks are the more you will follow through with accomplishing them.
-Plan B should have immediate steps to take if they must be implemented and long term goals to reach for to achieve the stated vision. A list of things to do or have is helpful in executing a Plan B.
-Keeping it simple at first so that the road ahead is clear as you begin to turn the wheel in a new direction.
-Assess your immediate needs and long term needs for switching paths along your journey.
-Defining success can be a prime motivator when implementing a Plan B that allows for the development of goals and step by step plans.
A contingency plan in life ensures that there is always a step forward to work on. Job situations, family illnesses, tragedy, unforeseen developments with your spouse or children, natural disaster or failure in any area can be mitigated with a Plan B. The Plan B or contingency plan although sometimes elicited by fear does not have to be a burdensome task. The plan to develop new skills, monetize a hobby, save for a dream, start a creative project, look for a new job, plan a move or the accomplishment of goals can be an exercise in fun visualizing when establishing steps for a Plan B. The Plan B is only limited by imagination. Start taking those small steps forward on your life’s contingency and become fearless in your daily decisions.