My Plan A in life is to win the lottery, pay all my debts, buy a tropical island, and live happily ever after. In case, just in case, my Plan A doesn’t pull through, I do have a Plan B: to write a best-selling novel, pay all my debts, buy a cottage in the woods, and live happily ever after. Lately, though, I’ve been thinking of a Plan C.
Seriously, if we’ve ever listened to all the motivational speakers, life coaches, and well-meaning friends around us, and imbibed just the first words they say, we should already have a written document of our short-, medium- and long-term goals in life.
We’ve written our goals, and rest comfortably in the fact that, at last, we have a map, a blueprint, and a design of our direction in life. And we push on, determined to accomplish all our dreams and objectives, and live happily ever after.
Unfortunately, even the best, top-notch, and foolproof plans can get all messed up — in minor setbacks or big-time catastrophes. Which is why it is just as imperative to have a contingency plan — a Plan B, as in “back-up” or “back-burner” scenario.
The question to answer in designing a Plan B is simple: “What if?” Here are some “what-ifs” to work with:
“What if I don’t win the lottery?” – Winning the lottery is not impossible. But it may not happen at the time we need the resources most. And if there’s one thing we do not have any control over, it’s the roll of the dice, so to speak. Therefore, the trick is to design a plan that gives a good level of control over the flow of resources for whatever the lottery money was supposed to take care of.
“What if I get sick?” – Most of the time, optimism makes us take our physical condition for granted such that our goals are based on the assumption that we will always be healthy. Therefore, a good contingency plan must focus on the repercussions of weaknesses and potential health problems. Better yet, Plan A must ensure we won’t have to deal with health problems, then Plan B must ensure we can deal with them if and when they happen.
“What if the circumstances around me change?” – Life plans are mostly written around the presence and support of significant others — parents, children, spouses, partners, and even pets. Moreover, many plans revolve around the existence of fame, property, finances, jobs, and a stable economy. All of these can, without notice, drastically change and impact on our goals in life. Are we ready to change course, or at least cope, when “things change”?
“What if I change my mind?” – Yes, we are allowed to change our minds anytime. While we should remain committed and determined to accomplish our goals, we should also be flexible enough to accept that interests, tastes, and perspectives are dynamic. We evolve, mature, and rearrange our priorities as we live from one day to the next. Plan Bs are specifically drafted to address this dynamism.
When drafting your contingency plans, you may have to stretch your imagination and even dwell on scenarios that are otherwise too sensitive to bring to mind. But Plan B is about being prepared for the unexpected. In most cases, success depends largely on being ready to meet challenges and surprises that normally exist only in “what if” situations.
So, when drafting your goals in life, be sure to include the answer to the question, “What if I don’t win the lottery?”
[First published at Suite101.com, 2001]
Footnote: the lotto ticket in the header photo won $25.00.