However, more often than not, reality takes a sharp turn and looks very different than what I had been thinking. That’s when I reach for my Back-Up Plan.
I don’t have to look too far back to see just how handy having a Plan B would have been:
The Client who loved my work and hired me to help lay the groundwork for a significant initiative. Then the person I was working with was relocated and the implementation was handed off to a new someone else. That person was a no-show at two meetings that they had asked for and I quickly got the not-so-subtle hint that my time working with that company was at an end.
The Prospect who was eager to meet scheduled a meetings that they canceled at the last minute. They apologized profusely and rescheduled immediately. Cancelling again at the last minute. I detected a theme and wondered if I had turned away others who might have made the meeting and scheduled work.
The Colleague who agreed with my assessment that our work was complementary. We met many times over several months and they asked me to do some work for them. When I talked about receiving possible payment, our conversations ended.
It’s good to have a plan – it’s the map of how you are going to get to where you want to go. When you find yourself in need of a sensible detour, (and in my daily life, there is a 50=50 chance that it will happen at least once), then Plan B is the insurance needed so that when things change (or other people mess up your carefully constructed intentions) you don’t have to fall apart – even if your plan does.
So here are some ideas about creating an outstanding Back-Up Plan:
- Be Ready To Adjust – Having a Back-Up plan gives you the advantage when it comes time to pivot. When things change, you are ready. It’s tempting to think you are in control of everything and everyone but be smarter than that and expect the unexpected.
- Get Ahead of Yourself – Create a cushion by creating a moved up deadline/date on things so that you have the time to review and revise. It’s very hard to craft a Back-
Up Plan if you are behind on your Plan A. Getting things done ahead of time lets you consider options and allows you to avoid operating in crisis mode. If you are always creating fires, you’ll have a tough time when other fires break out.
- Time to Reflect and Dream – Since a Back-Up Plan is made when you have time to think, you can be more creative. Often we do things the fastest way, but it may not be the best way to get something done. There are many ways to accomplish tasks.
- Be Ready for Slack Time – Back-Up Plans can allow you to get things done during the downtime that shows up during your day as 5 or 10 minutes at a time: waiting for the meeting to start or waiting for your appointment. Put that time to use by reading the article you had earmarked, working on a report that is due, or reaching out to a business colleague?
- Back-Up Plan = Less Stress – Backup plans can reduce your stress. You don’t need to dive into panic mode because you already know what you will do when things don’t go as planned.
If you are running at top speed during the day and don’t give any time to think about possible alternatives to getting tasks and objectives accomplished, then I can confidently predict that life will throw you a detour.
Have a Back-Up Plan and plan for it!