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Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail Pt. 2

November 9, 2011

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
One thing I’ve learned, after years of trying and trying again, is that things don’t always go as planned.  In fact, things rarely go exactly as planned.

Often times, all that’s necessary along your journey is a tweak or two to your original plan. And usually your perspective is the first and most important shift. But sometimes a more drastic rearrangement is necessary to avoid a failure that you can’t readily heal from.

Either way, your “plan a” should never be considered etched in stone. Whether the variation is large or small, it is absolutely vital to have the flexibility to consider a “plan b,” and yes, a “plan c.”

 

Why Now?
With a national unemployment rate of 9.1%[1], and talk of another recession in the media,[2] it’s no stretch to say that times are uncertain.  And in times like these, the word failure takes on a new, potentially devastating meaning.

By definition, an entrepreneur takes risks—look it up in the dictionary and see for yourself.  And while the most successful people ended up that way by walking the unbeaten path, most of them failed multiple times before getting it right (try Henry Ford, Bill Gates and Walt Disney, to name a few.)

The truth is, failure and success are like two sides of a coin.  It’s through failure that we learn the most valuable lessons, ultimately preparing us to achieve real success.

But I say, don’t just fail, fail smart. If and when you fail, don’t let it rule you. Be prepared, have your “plan b” and “plan c” in mind, and get back on your feet fast—unscathed and reenergized.

 

Plan B: What It Is, and What It Isn’t
“Plan b” will mean different things to different people, but what I am ultimately referring to involves vision, flexibility and thinking outside the box.

What I am talking about is not the last resort plan you dust off when starvation seems imminent .  This is the plan that comes out of the simple realization that there are many pathways to success, and you might not be on the right one—yet.

 

The What
Creating a “plan b” sounds self explanatory, and for the most part, it is. One way to start is by simply answering the following question:

What could I do if my original plan fails?

This exercise is not meant to illicit a finalized “plan b.” In fact, this is where you really get creative, allowing your ideas the opportunity to get a little wild.  Some people call this brainstorming.

The point? Break out of your ingrained patterns of thinking. Think outside the box.

 

The How
When writing your ideas down, try using shorthand and big, clear letters—cover an entire sheet of paper. No lists! That way, when you look back on what you’ve done, you have the space to make new connections.

It may be useful to enlist the help of a friend, family member or associate to brainstorm with you, as long as the presence of another person doesn’t inhibit you or your responses.  A fresh set of eyes can help you reach beyond your self-imposed limits.

Oh, and when you’re done, do it again. And this time, dream bigger.
And After That?
Now, choose two of your most promising ideas, and answer the question:

If I were to get started on my new plan tomorrow, how would it look?

Use your imagination to create each scenario in your mind, and move forward step by step, as if it were a reality.

Write down your thoughts informally. You won’t need to get formal until it’s time to get started. For now, you’re done. That’s it. You’re prepared—you’re one step ahead of most of us.

Final Thoughts
Planning ahead and knowing that you have options can make you feel more secure, uncovering the confidence it takes to aim higher and take bigger risks.

Most people don’t think this way.  Most people don’t have a “plan b” let alone a “plan c”—some don’t even have a “plan a!” But you do. You know what your options are if the unexpected happens. And since you’ve got your safety net, you’re free to swing a little higher. Just don’t look down…

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