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Pillar #5 of Awesome Risk-Taking: Throw Away Plan B

This is the final pillar of a 5 pillar series that I’m writing for adventurous risk-takers looking to change their lives by taking more chances.

Anyone can do something crazy, but it takes a little more finesse to do it great, and the steps aren’t as well known as you might think.

Be sure to sign up for free updates so you don’t miss anything new. Here are all the previous pillars if you need to catch up:


Throw Away Plan B

When I was first laid off at my last job, my mind went about 10 different directions all at once. I knew I wanted to strike out on my own, but I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do.

Actually, that’s not true. I knew I wanted to work online. I knew I wanted to write. I knew I wanted to make music and create art. So naturally, the first thing I did was gather as many letters of recommendations as I could and blast my resume all over town.

Can you see a problem here?

I wanted a Plan B. I wanted a rock-solid Plan B. I wanted an escape hatch that I could crawl through if this whole “follow my dreams” thing didn’t pan out. Of course, I hadn’t even given myself half a chance to succeed yet, but you know, better safe than sorry.

This is conventional wisdom. Even most entrepreneurs suggest you should have something in your pocket to fall back on if Plan A goes to pieces.

That’s why what I’m abot to say is probably going to be pretty unpopular. Most will call it irresponsible. But that’s okay, this is a website about taking risks, so I’m going to say it anyway:

You should ditch your Plan B.

If you know deep down what you want (and I think everyone does, but most are afraid to allow themselves to believe it) then you should avoid having a Plan B at all cost. If you already have one, you should do everything within your power to dismantle it. Plan B is a major distraction to Plan A.

Plan B, much like consumer credit, is an overly glorified concept. For all its praise, it saves very few people and quietly strangles the dreams of countless others.

Think about it. In every case, Plan A is a difficult one. It’s hard to follow and you’re not even sure exactly where it will lead. Plan B, on the other hand, is a sure thing. You’ve probably even had some success with it before. When you’re juggling the two, Plan B gets more and more defined and acceptable as Plan A gets harder and harder.

Pretty soon, Plan B is the new Plan A and Plan A goes back to “dream” status. You’ll do it on the weekend and see where it goes, but for now, it’s back to accounting.

No offense to any accountants. I love numbers, but from my experience, most accountants don’t. That’s why I want them to abandon accounting as Plan B and, for God’s sake, eliminate it as Plan A.

In Seth Godin’s book, The Dip, he explains that everyone goes through a period of time in the development of their business, idea, movement, etc. where things seem to have plateaued. The thrill of starting is gone and success seems a long ways off.

When you’re in the dip, it’s imperative to know if its time to quit and try something different, or if there’s great opportunity in pushing through the rough patch.

Sometimes, quitting really is the right thing to do, but most of the time it isn’t.

Plan B makes this decision process very fuzzy, making it a lot easier to justify quitting when persevering is the right answer.

When getting all the licenses to open your exotic pet shop gets incredibly bureaucratic and your nerves are wearing down, it’s really easy to go back to the department store and sell shoes.

When your internet marketing company isn’t taking off like you expected it to and you’re running out of money, taking another soul-sucking job at the local advertising firm is a hell of a lot easier than shifting focus and trying a new approach you aren’t sure will work.

The problem is that Plan B is almost never something that will fulfill you, and that’s what makes it even less sustainable than your crazy Plan A. Before you know it, you can’t stand the advertising job anymore and you’re back to the same place again, dreaming up a new Plan A…and a new Plan B, just in case. Rinse. Repeat.

What’s the alternative?

So, if what you’re looking for is a truly sustainable and fulfilling future, the only thing to do is embrace the risk you face and toss Plan B out the window.

Once Plan B is gone, Plan A has to get a lot better. That’s okay, though, since now you don’t have anything else distracting you.

The new answer is a series of Plan As. There’s no way to tell if it’s going to work, but as long as you’re adaptable, plan A.1, A.2, A.3 and so on are a lot more likely to get you where you want to go.

Like I mentioned in the planning article, the dream remains – it’s set in stone. But, the plan to achieve it is infinitely adaptable.

And that’s exactly where I’m at. I want to make a living creating art that changes people. Art can exist in many forms and I bet, deep down, that’s probably what you want too – to change people with the work you do.

So today, I’m deleting, shredding, and otherwise eliminating all traces of any Plan B. Resume, gone. Recommendation letters, trashed. My skin is officially in the game. If you want proof, you should watch this video:

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Now over to you. What Plan B is distracting you from your goals right now? What can you do to eliminate it? Let me know in the comments.