Whether you’re mapping out a side project, evaluating your job offers, requesting time off, or making your career goals more clear, you’ve always got a plan A. But, as many of us know all too well, plan A doesn’t always work out. Want to save yourself some time in various areas of your career? Create plan B when you create plan A, every time.
Why Having a Plan B Works:
1. Analytical Mindset
When you’re creating your plan A, you’ve probably set aside time to evaluate all of the possibilities and potential routes you could take. While you’re doing this, rank your favorites and the top two can act as your plan A and plan B. Because you’re already evaluating the situation you might as well go one step further after determining your favorite option and determine your second favorite. When it’s built into the process you’ll be more likely to think of everything because you have the initial planning stages already in your mind.
Have you ever stared down the barrel of an encroaching deadline wondering if you’d actually be able to finish? That’s how it can feel sometimes when your plan A goes awry. Some people are good at improvising plans at the top of the hat but, for most of us, it takes careful evaluation, and careful evaluation takes time. Saving yourself some time by doing it all at the beginning will be an incredibly relief down the road if plan A doesn’t work out like you’d hoped!
There’s nothing like the confidence you get from being prepared. When you have a plan B in mind, you’re more likely to boldly go after your plan A because you know, if it goes wrong, it’s not that big of a deal. You’ll just set plan B in motion and keep moving forward! That kind of confidence can offer you the opportunity to take fun risks along the way because they aren’t as risky as they would be if you had no backup plan.
Where It Works:
1. Job Search
You’ve just read a job ad and it’s basically making your mouth water. The description, the responsibilities, the benefits, the location, the salary—it all seems so perfect for you! Have you ever heard the phrase don’t put all of your eggs in one basket? That’s where creating your plan B will step in. Whether you’ve found the perfect position or you can’t seem to find it anywhere, having a backup option or two throughout your job search will help ensure that you get back into the employment game faster than ever. Waiting around for a perfect position to pop up or contact you is never as effective as selecting a few positions you like and applying, accepting interviews, and following through with the interviewing process.
2. Side Project
At work you most likely have bosses, supervisors, collaborators, or other people to answer to when planning the logistics of your projects. But when you’re working on your side project, even when you’ve grouped up with others, the planning is much more flexible and up to you. In this scenario creating a plan B along with your plan A will decrease your stress, stretch your mind to other possibilities, and hopefully save you some time and frustration down the road. After all, side projects are supposed to be more fun than your every day work! Having a plan B will prevent your side project stress levels from surpassing your limits and keep the process fun while helping you learn along the way.
3. Vacation Planning
That’s right, having a plan A and a plan B for vacations is all the rage these days. Whether you tend to vacation with your family, your friends, your significant other, or just yourself, chances are you have multiple destinations or lengths of time you could use. Come up with both a plan A and a plan B to present to your boss when requesting time off. This could come in the form of taking two full weeks off in a less vacation-centric month like October or taking half a week off for Spring Break, half a week off for the Fourth of July, and half a week off for Thanksgiving. Having more than one plan in mind when requesting certain days will increase your likelihood of getting the days you want and decrease the likelihood that you’ll need to work while on vacation.
The Bottom Line
Don’t catch your chickens before they hatch, don’t put your eggs all in one basket–and don’t create plan A without creating plan B. Having a backup plan for your vacation time, your job search, and even your side projects from the get go will help you feel more prepared to tackle any challenges that head your way and give you the confidence to pursue plan A.
Of course, if you want to be extra-thorough, you can create plan C, plan D, plan E and F-Z while you’re at it. Just don’t get too carried away; you may mistake the planning process for making actual progress.
You’ve got this. Happy planning!