11 answers

How many back up plans should you have?

Asked Jacksonville, Florida

11 answers

Lauren’s Answer

Updated Chicago, Illinois

First, I would evaluate the "why and how" of the situation that did not go as planned. This will give you great insight into what to expect in the future, and if that situation was something you desired in the first place. I notice that when I push too hard for something to occur that is not in alignment with my values, it often does not work out well.

In the past I spent a lot of time planning, back up planning, and back up to the back up plan planning. I found that in "time sensitive situations" I missed out on opportunities because I was so busy planning that I lost sight of my true desires, direction, and focus.

So then I tried moving forward without back up plans and when I failed spectacularly, I felt at a loss of what to do next. The key is to be aware of the possibilities and ultimately be flexible with the potential outcome(s). This means not "attaching" emotionally to how the situation plays out. For instance, you want to go see a specific movie, you get to the theater with your friends and that movie is sold out. Are you disappointed? Maybe. Do you have lots of other options? Likely. You could go see a different movie, buy the tickets in advance of the next showing and then go do something else in the meantime with your friends, or take it as "sign" that you were "meant" to do something different and explore what else you and your friends may be able to do instead.

In the last 5 years I found a middle ground and here are the steps I take when I move forward with big plans: - Identify what I want to occur (what do I desire most?) - Identify a few pitfalls that may occur that prohibit my most desired outcome (what could go so very wrong that I could not tolerate the outcome?) *Do not dwell too long on this step - Identify a few solutions to those pitfalls (what could I do or what resources can I leverage to either prevent that from occurring or solve the issue on the fly?)

This is how it looks applied to a situation where I am planning a trip to see family. - Desired outcome - arrive at their house and spend at least 2 hours visiting - Possible pitfalls - weather and or traffic could delay my arrival - Solutions - check weather the day before, check traffic before I leave, and plan some flexibility into my day so that I can stay my desired length of time, in the case I don't arrive when I planned.

I can't stress it enough, be flexible and allow for a multitude of possibilities to arrive in the moment, so that you allow yourself other options and or opportunities without dwelling in disappointment or "failure".

George’s Answer

Updated Chicago, Illinois

That is a great question. I don't think planning to fail so you have a plan B all set up, gives you the wrong spirit or motivation. I've always been pretty positive, so I don't carry a plan B around. But it is a good idea to be valuable in the job you have. Be on time, be positive, look for ways that help out, and if there is optional training available consider taking it. I've been in insurance for 40 years. I started as an adjuster and while doing that I took tests and passed various exams to better myself and went to additional training when available. This keeps you fresh and valuable. One thing I started then was a program called CPCU (Chartered Property Casualty Underwriting) and its a professional degree with 10 tests. Each test is given every 6 months and it's difficult. I had just started this and passed 1 or 2 when I'd decided to go from field work ( insurance claims over a geographical area) and find a internal job. I found a inside claims job and handled paperwork and directing investigations etc. I also decided to continue the CPCU designation. I'd been in claims all my career and this degree is really one that Underwriters get. But I continued and did pass all the tests and got the degree and kept doing claims. I did earn a trip to Hawaii with my wife, so that was a great benefit. Then one day I lost my job and I was 55 years old, now what? Well I looked and looked for work as an claims adjuster. Then after a few months, I found an Underwriting Job the same town and I applied. Literally I got a call with 10 minutes after I applied on line. It was this UW degree that got attention and I took the job. I've been at this job for several years and have very similar benefits ... So sorry for a long story, but I guess that was my plan B. I did not mention, but a strong faith in knowing that I am not alone and that this faith in JC always keeps me humble and knowing that I will be taken care of.

Brian’s Answer

Updated Sacramento, California

Always have at least one contingency plan. Business and life can be unpredictable. Planning ahead gives you freedom to go for stretch goals. The best backup plan is one you don't need to use. So be prepared.

Venkat’s Answer

Updated Houston, Texas

for a situation, with the available resources(including time to react), have as many options open as possible. never to miss the 'n'th option, "i am ready to face the unexpected". Move forward; act on time to the best of your abilities - every action makes you more resilient Good Luck!

Andria’s Answer

Updated Woodbridge Township, New Jersey

That is a great question. If your on the fence about more than one career i would suggest spending time with professionals in each field. sometime that can help you with the right direction to go in. I always have a thought of a backup plan however i know where I want to be and that is in sales. I love working one on one with customers and helping them grow their business.

You are the one who has to decide your career path but spend as much time talking with people in different careers that you are possibly interested in. I did that and I would never have thought to be in sales and business development but it is now what I do best.

Catie’s Answer

Updated Woodbridge Township, New Jersey

In addition to saving a portion of every paycheck, my advice would be to continue to build and strengthen your network throughout your career - not just when things don't go as expected.

Growing and strengthening your network can lead to further opportunities throughout your career.

There are many ways to grow and strengthen your network, and it can be done at formal networking events as well as informal ways - with the people you work with, with your friends, and with people you meet while pursuing your hobbies/passions.

Sandra’s Answer

Updated Woodbridge Township, New Jersey

Instead of having a backup plan, decide on what you REALLY what to do and go after it with everything you have; all your talent and all your time. Don't stop until you get it, because having a backup plan can sometimes distract you from what you really want in life.

Got for it!

Shilpoo’s Answer

Updated Woodbridge Township, New Jersey

This is my favorite question.. I will say that answer lies in how confident you are in your own abilities to complete present and assigned opportunities. Moment you start channelizing your energy in backup plans, you are basically saying that I am failing in current job / assignments. I like to have alternative plans to provide continuity then plan which changes course all together. have vision and a plan to execute that vision.

Nancy’s Answer


It's not about how many back-up plans so much as how you deal with a disappointment. There may be alternative ways to get to Goal A, which you've identified it as your first priority, so don't abandon it too soon. I agree that being flexible with expectations is wise. It also teaches you the resilience successful people exhibit. It's good to have a Plan B when it is also considered and you believe it will bring you joy if Plan A just won't happen.

Gerard’s Answer

Updated Troy, Michigan

Wow! Great question. Not sure that I am interpreting the question correctly, but this is my first impression. Don't have a backup plan. Have an unnerving passion and persistence that keeps you moving forward. By considering a backup(s) we sometimes hesitate to give what we have 100%.
Today's most famous maxim is "fail fast". By doing so (and learning from your failure), you move forward faster then most. Best of luck, Gerard

Jess’s Answer

Updated Fremont, California

Think about transferable skills across industries. Try to get involved in projects that highlight certain skills that you can showcase from one job to the next. For example: leadership, project coordination, various technology skills, familiarity with different systems/programs, and so forth. When one thing doesn't work out (which happens often and is okay) it's important to relate aspects of your past experience that apply to the requirements of where you go next!