Let’s talk about your Plan B
What could happen if you turned your Plan B into Plan A?
You may say you don’t have a Plan B, but I’m going to bet that you do. We all have interests and passions that can become our Plan B’s. They are usually things your wish you could get paid to do or are found at the end of the “If I won the lottery I would…” sentence.
Like many of you, I never contemplated what my Plan B would be because I was so focused on making Plan A successful. I poured over 20 years of my life into Plan A and I am thankful for it. My Plan A provided me with opportunities to travel, to meet many new people, and to learn some invaluable lessons that ultimately led me to my Plan B. During those years I worked hard, I didn’t take a lot of vacations, and I relied on the assistance of nannies and others to be there for the kids when I could not.
At the time I felt like I was a superwoman and gaining so much from the “experience”; however, looking back, I realized I was missing out on a lot of other experiences. Sadly, I missed more family dinners and bedtimes than I would have liked to. I developed expertise in dodging requests to help out with school events and skirting around committing to extra-curricular and volunteer experiences. When I was home, my attention was divided as I answered text messages and phone calls in between baths and bedtime. Many days I logged back on my work computer after the kids went to bed, and gave up things like TV shows, reading, relaxing or other things normal people do in the evening to unwind. In my mind, I thought that was just what you had to do to be productive and successful. Yet, I believed I was on the top of my game because I measured my accomplishments through productivity and career trajectory. Despite all of this, something was missing, I felt unfulfilled and trapped.
When I recognized I was confining myself into an unfulfilling career with no real exit strategy, I decided I needed a Plan B. Here is my story and the lessons I learned from turning my Plan B into my Plan A. My story isn’t perfect, but few rarely are. What my story reveals are the things that really mattered as I pursued Plan B. These lessons, can not only help you on your pursuit, but also when you are facing a challenge of any kind.
Lesson 1: Let Passion Lead
The intention of my Plan B started out as contingency plan that I did on the side as a way to keep myself protected if something happened to my full-time job. I was working for a company at the time that was going through a lot of change and it was one of those situations where you hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Fortunately, there were aspects of my job as an HR leader that I was passionate about and found rewarding, such as coaching. There just was not much opportunity to coach as often or in the way I would have liked due to the reactionary nature of the company I was working for. I decided I would start there and pursue my coaching certification. At first I began with a few clients and some project work for people I knew or had met through the certification program. Once I experienced getting paid to help people while something I loved, I was hooked. It was invigorating and I felt energized, motivated, and wanted more.
That was when I took a risk and turned my Plan B into my Plan A.
Lesson 2: Take Risks
I’ll be honest, quitting my full-time job was one of the scariest, most uncomfortable things I ever did. It was a radical move that tested my limits and beliefs, as I had young children at the time. The responsible thing would have been to ease my way into Plan B. Instead, I gave up all I had ever known in addition to my income. There I was diving head first into the deep end of the pool, and my only choice was to swim.
I was outside of my comfort zone and had challenges find paying clients and a steady stream of work at first. There were many days I considered giving up and going back to what I knew. My belief in what could be kept me going. I trusted in what I was doing, and I knew I could help people become better versions of themselves, which was important to me. As time went on, I slowly adjusted to the cyclical nature of what I was doing and figured out how to operate and make ends meet in this new “feast or famine” world.
I practiced tactics I learned in my coaching program on myself to keep my vision clear and my perspective healthy. I developed habits such as gratitude journaling, appreciative inquiry, and used self-talk tactics to keep myself on track.
Lesson 3: Give Yourself Permission to Fail
Frustrated it was taking so long to ramp up, I became nervous, really nervous. Bills piled up, my savings dwindled, and I was beginning to wonder if I was going to fail. I had always subscribed to the philosophy of you can achieve anything you work hard enough to accomplish. Unfortunately, when you put forth substantial effort to avoid something, like failure, you become conditioned to fear it. While I may have had things not go as planned, I had never experienced failure of this magnitude. I was terrified. So, I made another unconventional move and I gave myself an out: permission to fail. If things did not improve by a certain date then I would be okay with throwing in the towel and going back to the career I abandoned. Without the haze of fear clouding my vision, I was able to focus on strategically building out my business. Interestingly, about the time I was approaching my drop-dead date, things started to turn around for me. I discovered my niche and my client base began to grow. I began partnering with other groups, which presented additional avenues for growth.
I’ve continued to expand into areas I never envisioned, and I am elated I found something I love doing that also benefits others. I love guiding people through their journeys to improve their lives and careers. I’m finding so much satisfaction and growth from taking my experiences and using them to coach people who want to start their own businesses and turn their Plan B’s into their Plan A’s. There is also a lot of satisfaction in enabling leaders to lead their associates through change and transformation and I also get to influence and connect with people through writing.
I’m so grateful for my experiences with Plan A as they led me down the path to my Plan B. I enjoy the vacations I now take with my family. Today, I seek out opportunities to volunteer and be involved in my kids’ lives. I’ve developed new friendships through the people I have met, and I’ve discovered hobbies that provide me with immense satisfaction and enjoyment. The memories and laughs these experiences have created in just a few short years far outnumber the ones I recall during the blur of my Plan A years. Plan B has taught me I can not only make a living doing what I am passionate about, but I can also live the most complete version of my life. Not a bad little gig for a Plan B?