The Life-Changing Magic of Having a Plan B

When life delivers the unexpected, you need a Plan B—a contingency plan you can activate when your career or some other aspect of your life begins to fall apart. And while its primary purpose will be to keep your life on track when the unexpected shows up, with a little preparation and planning, your Plan B can help you to create a better, more improved version of your current life – the life you really want to live.


 

Episode 15 - The Life-Changing Magic of Having a Plan B

by Roger Reid


Transcript:

​We dream about a perfect life. We set our goals and make our plans. We work hard — and then life happens.

Maybe we lose our job. Our spouse is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. The economy nosedives and wipes out our retirement savings.

At first, we reel in shock as it all sinks in. Nothing makes sense. There are no clear answers. When we finally catch our breath, the questions overwhelm us. How will I ever get through this? What’s going to happen to me? How will I survive?

The things that were so important yesterday don’t matter anymore. The new car you were planning to buy seems like a bad joke. 

So what do you do?

You realize it’s time for Plan B

Hey, Welcome back. This is Roger Reid with another episode of successpoint360.

Sudden and unexpected changes often trigger us to make quick, spontaneous decisions……… a reaction powered by adrenaline and fear.

And even though you know there may be a better solution — a better way — you don’t have the luxury of time to consider all the options, to look at the long-term effects of your choices.

You take action because you have to.

Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do but wait for the smoke to clear, to see a true picture of the damage, and then evaluate what your next step should be.

The first thought is often an assessment of blame.

“It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t deserve to be treated this way.”

But inevitably, the better question comes to the surface.

“How could I have been better prepared?”

Planning for the worst is not something we typically do. We’re constantly told to think positive, to send our very best thoughts into the universe and wait for them to return to us ten-fold.

But sometimes, the universe has other plans.

And when life delivers the unexpected, you need a Plan B you can immediately activate when your career or some other aspect of your life begins to fall apart.

And I want to make something very clear: You will use a Plan B at some point in your life.  The question is, how much influence will you have on its design and implementation?

There are two choices: You can allow it to unfold by default, with its content, strategy, and options molded by chance and circumstance. Or you can plan for the unexpected, for how you’ll deal with change, using your own pre-considered choices.

Granted, you can’t anticipate every possibility. But evaluating your current resources and fall-back options in a “what if” scenario will make you better prepared to make difficult decisions when your livelihood — or even your life — depends on it.

So how do you start?  What should you consider as you put together your own personal Plan B?

First, establish a timeline

If your income were to suddenly stop, how long could you depend on your current resources? It may be helpful to make these quantifiable measurements, for example, how long will your savings last if you lose your job, or how long will your severance package continue to pay the bills?

You may also want to consider the possibility of turning what you own into cash. If you have things you don’t use, or no longer enjoy,  – and who doesn’t – think about the best way of selling them, taking into consideration your time and the cost of sale in terms of advertising or commissions.

Next, find the best environment for your brain to think objectively

This means taking a break when you hit a wall. And when it happens, trying going outside, take a walk, change the scenery.

And that old advice of allowing your mind to “sleep on it,” is also a great option, because sleep helps your brain to process the data you feed it and come up with possible solutions.

It’s also a good idea to hold on to as many “regular or habitual” activities as possible.

If you usually go to the park with your dog on Tuesdays and Fridays, make the effort to continue. If you typically set aside Sunday afternoons to garden, read the next chapter in a favorite novel, or play a round of golf, do your best to maintain that schedule.

Change is best accomplished by altering one element at a time. It produces less stress and you’ll do a better job in the long term.

So don’t give up your gym membership or Friday date night unless they’re completely out of the question. Hold on to as many positive life rituals as possible, knowing this helps stabilize your mindset as you explore new options during this particular phase of your life.

Now, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or confused, realize that confusion is the mind’s natural “holding” state until an answer is reached. Neuro-linguistic research has long held that “feeling confused” indicates your mind is actively working on a solution.  So let it happen, knowing that answers are currently in the works

If you want to help your subconscious work through the problem, ask yourself if more information would be helpful. Do you know everything you need to know about the comparisons you’re making….. or the situations you have to choose from? If not, additional research can make a real difference – not necessarily in the actual answer, but in how you feel about it.

The next point is a bit controversial, so evaluate it based on your personal situation and circumstances. You may or may not want to Ask For Help. I don’t necessarily recommend this as a benchmark method of producing an answer to the problem. But if you know someone who has an understanding of the external influences that are relevant in your situation, and can make an objective evaluation, and here’s the most important requirement, won’t misrepresent what they really think because they want to protect your feelings,  then yes, include their input as a consideration.

And regardless of where the opinions and ideas of others come from, filter any advice you receive by what the contributing party has to gain or lose from your decision.

If they’re financially invested in your outcome, you’ll need to factor their input accordingly. And remember, the opinions and advice of others carry no guarantee of making you happy or providing you with satisfaction in the long term.

That’s up to you.

My main reservation in soliciting advice from others is because when we’re not sure of what our next move should be, we tend to overly rely on what others tell us – because they seem to have an answer, and we don’t. And that tendency to grab at the first suggestion you receive can also provide a scapegoat, to blame others for an unsatisfying future. But you’re the one who will have to bear the weight of making choices that were ultimately wrong for you.  So factor any advice you receive with a healthy dose of objectivity and even a little skepticism.

Now, here’s the big question…..

How different, how aggressive, how ambitious should your new plan be?  I mean, if plan A didn’t work, how much risk should you take with your personal plan B?   I know a lot of folks who consider their plan B to be used only as an emergency response to unexpected change, and just as soon as things return to normal, it’s back to the way things were.

But what if returning to a state of normal means going back to living a life that’s less than what it could be? Less than what you want it to be? Maybe up till now, your life has unfolded by default, your career, and your direction in life the result of someone else’s plan.

If that’s the case, creating a plan b can be an opportunity to change your direction as well as your priorities. That could include not only the way you make your livelihood, but where you live, who you associate with, and at the end of the day, how you feel about the way you spend your time. 

Yes, a plan B carries the notion that it’s an emergency response to a negative situation. And that’s certainly part of its purpose.

But your plan b can be more than a response to crisis or difficulty, more than just a fallback option. A well-crafted plan can become the better, more improved version of your current life – the life that you really want to live.

So, how do we make sure we’re on the right path? How do we know if we’re taking the right steps that will eventually lead us to something better? 

Classic time management and personal achievement gurus preach the importance of keeping our objectives in front of us, focusing on the significantly important instead of the urgently trivial.

And while that’s certainly important, I also think there’s a better answer, a way to improve the goal-setting process and actually bring you more of what you want in the long term:

In addition to a well-defined list of goals, I’m going to suggest combining them with a set of guidelines that will keep you regularly engaged in creating new opportunities, establishing new professional relationships, and consistently making a trustworthy and reliable impression on others.

We’ll talk about those guidelines in a minute, but first, let’s look at the process of building your new plan. You can take notes if you’d like, but there’s a complete transcript available at successpoint360.com, so initially, you may want to just listen and let your own original ideas begin to take shape . . . and that’s what you want to write down.

Any new life plan that’s going to be effective and bring about wanted change must be based on an equal change in mindset. Regardless of what you’ve been told or the promises you’ve been made, the most important step you can take is to . . .

Become the boss of your own life.

Remember how you felt the last time you took charge of a project or a situation? It’s no different when you take charge of your life!

I’m not suggesting that you need to work for yourself, or start your own business, although if that’s part of your plan, great!  I’m really talking about making a determination  – as specifically as you can – about what you want to do, where you want to go, and then creating a plan to make that happen.

So many of us serve the needs and wants of others. We follow their plan because we simply don’t have one of our own. If that’s your situation, here’s the best way to take back control: Along with creating your new plan, which includes a specific set of goals and the changes you want to incorporate into your life, also include a breakdown of the smallest steps you can take on a daily basis to move you closer to the better life you want to live.

It’s simple, often repeated advice, but the alternative is to drift through life without a clear picture of the future you really want. As a result, you’ll typically end up staying in the same place, doing the same thing for the next five, ten, or twenty years, or for that matter… a lifetime. And if that’s where you want to be, great! But if it’s not, it’s time to determine where you want to end up in the five or ten years, and if your current direction isn’t going to take you there, then it’s time to change course. Remember, you’re the boss, so you get to decide.

And while you’ll creating your new plan, I want to encourage you to avoid putting any limits on yourself – especially in putting together your long term goals.

The quality of your life, and the rewards you receive, are  to a large extent, dependent upon what you believe you deserve. Low self-esteem and self-defeating behavior will keep you mired in excuses — and paralyzed with doubt and fear.

The Real achievers  – the ones who accomplish the things in life that matter to them –  choose action over excuses. You don’t need a lot of reframing or psycho-babble to get this one on your side. Just try these three steps:

(1) Decide what you want. Write it down, refine it, add the details.

(2) Visualize yourself accomplishing it. See yourself at the finish line, having completed what you set out to do. If you really want to boost the subconscious power of this step, ask yourself, How does it feel? What do you see? Are there others present? What are they saying? Make your projected success as real as possible by imagining the result in the form of the most detailed picture you can create. 

(3) Determine your first step and take it. It doesn’t matter how small that first step is, it’s taking action that changes your plan from a fantasy into reality. And your brain will respond accordingly, changing priorities, and reminding you of the next step.

It’s just three simple steps. And sometimes, that’s the reason so many people refuse to try it – because it is so simple. But I’m telling you, this little 3 step formula really works.

So let’s assume you’ve gone through the process, and you have your new plan in place. How do we speed up the timeline, how do we accelerate the process of getting the results we want?  In most cases, accomplishing your end goals, and going from where you are to where you want to be, usually has some bearing on how well you interact and communicate with others because we live and work in a world that requires cooperation.  And at some point in time, we’ll need someone’s recommendation, or referral, or endorsement.

Earlier in this episode, I mentioned a few guidelines you can use that can make a big difference in the way others think about you, and in how they treat you.  They’re very easy to implement and they can bring immediate results. I’ll give you a brief overview of each one, and feel free to alter them to suit your specific circumstances.

Here’s the first guideline:  Always treat others as equals. Regardless of their job title or function, or their social or financial status, there are no “little people” or “little jobs”

The minute you classify someone as beneath you or less important, you’ve just built a wall.

One of the most important characteristics of the successful is being approachable. Regardless of rank or position, financial status, or birthright, we all have the same need to be acknowledged for what we do and recognized for who we are.

And that goes for your “networking” contacts as well; don’t think that the people you spend time with must be at an equal or superior professional level. I know of one entrepreneur who found the greatest networking value came from administrative assistants—folks we used to call secretaries. They’re part of a very unique group that actually knows what’s going on and can typically describe the company’s current activities in detail.

Treat everyone with respect, because all of us deserve a chance to contribute something of value.

Here’s the second guideline: While you’re in public, act like someone is watching you— because in most cases, they are!

Ideally, you want your actions and behavior to reflect the better you. And the best way to prevent doing something you’ll later regret is to always act as if you’re being watched.

I’ll tell you a short, true story: A few years ago, I walked outside a restaurant to buy a newspaper. I noticed the machine had been left open. Anyone could reach in and take a paper without the need to pay for it. So I lifted the door and removed the Sunday edition, then deposited two dollars in quarters,  and then I closed the machine and made sure it was locked.

Forty-five minutes later, I was standing in line to pay the restaurant bill and a stranger approached. He said, “If anyone wants a character reference, refer them to me. I’ll tell them you’re an honest man.”

Turns out, the guy was a corporate attorney for Keller Williams and, after exchanging business cards, he became another networking reference.

You never know who’s watching, so let them “catch” you doing something right.

Your third guideline?  Never settle

Good enough usually isn’t.

Others will view the quality of your work as a reflection of your attitude and commitment. Taking short-cuts or leaving a job half-done may prevent others from developing the level of confidence they need to trust you with more important work.

Along those same lines, never compromise your integrity

While it’s true a lot of life falls into the gray area, in most cases, you clearly know what’s right or wrong.

Taking advantage of the less intelligent, inexperienced, or those in desperate circumstances is not only the wrong thing to do, it often returns a similar reward.

Here’s the last guideline: Let others know how you expect to be treated

Unfortunately, not everyone plays by the rules.

There are plenty of arrogant and abusive people who will test your limits just to see what they can get away with. Don’t let them. Politely explain you will not tolerate attacks on your character or person.

If they persist, you have two choices:

Take legal action, or get as far away from them as possible (or both). These kinds of people have no place in your life. They rob you of your capacity to enjoy the positive, enjoyable aspects of just being alive.

I’ll sum it up with this:

The only problem with failure, with having your career or some aspect of your personal life turned upside down, is letting it stop you.

One of the most valuable outcomes of having failed at something is being ready to succeed the second time. And when successful people look back on the struggles and sacrifices necessary to reach their goals, they often consider those experiences to be some of the best times of their life.

So enjoy the journey. Take vacations. Visit with friends. Spend private time with your spouse. In the end, life is made up of all the day-to-day experiences we collect over a lifetime of living.

Hey, that’s it for this episode. As I mentioned, there’s a transcript available at www.successpoint360.com. Just click on the link under the appropriate episode. And, If you have a question or comment, you can leave me a message by using the voicemail link in the main menu on the Success Point 360 website.

Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you next time.

© 2020, Roger A. Reid