THE TRUTH ABOUT PLAN A
Todd Dewett | June 14, 2021
You often hear people refer to having a Plan A and a Plan B when they talk about their career or life. The idea is that Plan A is what you really want to do, while plan B is the backup plan.
The problem is that most Plan As stink. Sure, a few people have great Plan As: they experience purpose, can’t believe they get paid for what they do, etc. However, most people struggle to define Plan A – and that is totally normal!
The problem with Plan A is that it is hard to discover. One reason is that people who care for you, namely parents and teachers, actively discourage your dreaming. They say otherwise, but the behavioral reality is clear. They want you to play it relatively safe in life. They want you to be reasonable.
Since people are basically taught to be risk-averse, they define a decent enough Plan A (that falls terribly short of the dream) and then they are encouraged to continue by defining a Plan B, just in case.
That’s depressing enough, but it gets worse. When a few of you break free of the safety mentality and define an inspiring Plan A, you’re criticized both for the audacity of your plan and for not having a backup.
That is true – a lot of people with great Plan As don’t have Plan Bs. Listen carefully: it’s not because they are lazy, careless, or insane.
It’s because when you feel high levels of passion and focus, you don’t think as much about contingencies. You feel more singularly obsessed with the beauty of the goal you’re chasing. To work on Plan B is to waste energy. To work on Plan B is to think about Plan A not working.
Having said that, the doubters out there are not incorrect when they talk about the risks. So, it’s very important to have your eyes open. Your passion needs to be informed. The truth is that for any really awesome Plan A:
· It won’t be easy to achieve. It will require crazy hard work and lots of sacrifices. It will cause a great deal of stress.
· It isn’t likely to actually happen. The odds get worse the more badass the thing is that you’re targeting.
· You will receive more negativity (e.g., doubt, criticism, judgment) than positivity (e.g., unconditional support, encouragement, kindness) on your journey.
· If you “make it” you are likely to be broke. For example, many artistic careers and small businesses, even when they find consistent traction, are not financially lucrative.
· If you don’t “make it” a lot of people will say “I told you so.” Then you have to choose some type of Plan B, and it will hurt badly.
So, you’d better have some serious passion. You’d better understand humility and hard work. Allow yourself to think briefly about these risks. Remind yourself that life is short. So, why not try? What are you afraid of?
Listen, I’ve personally come up short, failed, made mistakes, misspoke, and made a few made bad decisions. Most of the time, thankfully, I’ve learned something that has pushed me forward. I want you to do the same.
The key to moving past the risks noted above is adopting the right mentality. You have to replace the fear of failure with the fear of not learning and growing.
Look at it this way, when you’re old and looking back over your life, what will it say about you? Will it show that you played it safe, tried to please everyone, never really failed, and basically made it to the end having minimally engaged with life? Or, will it say that you tried extremely hard, made sacrifices, took smart risks, experienced some setbacks, and created a few truly majestic wins?
There is no right answer, but when I think about those two possibilities, I know what I want to do: stretch, try, learn, grow! If you want some advice about your Plan A, hit me up. Don’t ask me about Plan Bs. I don’t have one.
WHAT’S UP WITH DR. D?
- I’m really embracing the idea that youth is a state of mind. My oldest just graduated from high school, which kinda makes me old! Nonetheless, I feel energized. I feel like my next decade is going to be crazy productive. I’m on my third career and looking forward to the fourth. Age is just a number friends!
- I just delivered a keynote for the Air Line Pilots Association, the union that reps over 60,000 pilots. Huge fun. The audience was actually union reps who were a few days away from talking to members of Congress here in the US about various pilot issues. We talked about authenticity and a lot about storytelling and the use of emotion in communication. If you want to really connect and persuade… stories and emotions are priceless!
Ever been in a meeting and someone says, “Do you agree?” …and you don’t agree? What do you say? Every situation is different, but here are a few quick thoughts.
If you are relatively low in power and the decision is more inconsequential instead of monumental, just go with it. That’s right, just agree. You absolutely positively can’t speak up for your beliefs and opinions every single time you wish to do so. Fair or not, you will offend, anger, and alienate others. Learn to be more strategic and sometimes choose to bite your tongue.
Another option is to agree with some of what they said. This shows that you’re listening and thinking, and seeking to find common ground.
Or, you can at least agree with their passion for finding a solution to the issue, thus validating their intent while not supporting any specific idea.
It’s also useful sometimes to admit that the idea they have presented is definitely worth considering, though there are other options to consider as well.
Or… just say no! However, you have to realize that no matter how this response is presented it is quite often interpreted as an affront, a slight, too abrupt or coarse, and just downright negative. By the way, it could totally be the correct response. I just want you to be careful!
The last lesson – try not to ask others if they agree! Ask what they think. This shows respect and allows them room to deviate from your view if so desired.
Until next time – stay safe, go learn something, maybe help someone, or at least do something interesting!
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