Left to my own devices, I’m the type of person who has a contingency plan.
And a contingency plan for my contingency plan.
My brand of anxiety likes to plan for any and all eventualities.
Some of these comfort me: like knowing what items to grab from my apartment should a natural disaster occur.
And others just take up room in my mind: like knowing what I’d want on my playlist for the aforementioned disaster.
This compulsive need to plan impacted every area of my life.
For example, in my 20s, I had a boyfriend who consistently cancelled plans because he had to work, he overslept, or had a hangover. This annoyed the shit out of me. But, in a well-intentioned effort to “make things work,” I decided to manage my expectations and always have a plan B.
The problem was that long after our relationship ended, the pattern remained. I still needed an alternate plan in case things didn’t work out. Be it a backup job opportunity, a backup friend, or a backup brunch order in case they’re out of bacon (again).
So why is this a bad thing?
- Because it prevented me from going all in.
- It prevented me from ever truly “showing up.”
- It prevented me from respecting my boundaries.
In short, it obstructed my ability to create what I truly wanted (Plan A).
Contingency plans aren’t about increasing your chances of success or happiness, they're often about fear. Plan B is all about survival mode. And, not surprisingly, survival mode is not where dreams, creativity, or potential flourish.
Knowing there’s an alternate plan gives us a way out. It protects us from disappointment.
For example, had I stopped having a plan B when he’d cancel, the disappointment may have fueled me to communicate that his behavior didn’t work for me rather than engaging in a codependent tango. (Tango lessons were another thing he didn’t show up for, btw.)
So now, plan A is the only plan I sign up for. I don’t waste my energy on hypothetical plan Bs because it’s less energy that can go into plan A. And much like plan A can’t coexist with plan B, living with passion cannot coexist with fear.
So how do you muster the confidence, space, and drive to go all in?
By consciously redirecting your energy, tapping into that obsessive ability to plan, and directing it toward plan A.
- Activate it. Motivation is an emotion. And like any other emotion, it cycles. At the start of your plan, capitalize on the excess by creating a reserve that you can tap into later. Here’s how.
- Anticipate it. What obstacles have come up in the past? What might come up in the future? When you see an obstacle, troubleshoot it and make it part of the plan rather than creating a backup plan.
- Accept it. Your path may not look the way you anticipated. That’s okay. Don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment. The skills you develop along the way will help you with your next goal.
- Assimilate it. Spend time studying the parts of your plan that didn’t look as expected. Instead of beating yourself up, ask yourself: what stopped me? What obstacles got in my way that I can anticipate next time? What parts helped me to succeed? Learn from experience and assimilate it into your plans.
- Re-Activate it. Go back to #1 and review your answers. Tapping into your motivation to achieve plan A will help you to stay the course rather than jumping to plan B.