What happens when your plans don’t work out? As an academic adviser in a past life, I spent a lot of time going over Plan B with students in the wake of their not passing core degree papers. Or in an even more past life, I worked with people who had not been successful in getting the one job they had been pinning their hopes on. I’ve found there are different schools of thought on whether or not having a Plan B or a Plan C is a good idea. Some think that it will distract you from your Plan A and you should not give up on your goals. Others believe that a Plan B is essential and you should invest as much energy in it as your Plan A. But what if there was really no such thing as a Plan A and Plan B? As our lives become increasingly complex, connected and chaotic, having set plans may be a bit inflexible. Is it more a case of needing to be mindful that stuff can happen and being prepared to be able to get through it? We could learn a thing or two from NZ’s Civil Defence disaster preparation material: Get Thru- How To Get Ready (should disaster strike). Here are their top five tips for being prepared for disaster, seen through a career lens:
- Learn about disasters and how to keep safe. Or in this case, what could go wrong and what does it mean? After failure or a negative event you may not feel that great for a while. You may feel ashamed, angry or confused before you settle into a plan of action. We all go through these stages in different ways and at different times. Know your mind and how you react when things go wrong. What are you learning about yourself from this experience? Be specific. Don’t just say “I’m a better person”. What can you do differently in future? Where do you go for course advice? Support? Career advice?
- Create and practice a household emergency plan. This is where you could have more than one option. If you talk through your different options with an adviser, family, friends or flatmates you may get other ideas. One of the aspects of your plan might be to Keep Calm and Carry On. What are the ways you can do that?
- Assemble and maintain emergency survival items. Aside from the obvious coffee and chocolate, have at the ready all the tools you need. These could be online tools for planning your qualification, eportfolios, your LinkedIn profile and CV.
- Have a getaway kit in case you have to leave in a hurry. Aside from the obvious coffee and chocolate again (of which you have now consumed half), be open to and prepared for random opportunities or happenstance. Think creatively and look for alternatives. Maybe it’s doing a summer course where you discover you really love History or landing a part time job where you learn a new skill or accepting an invite to an event where you meet Viggo Mortensen (…oh sorry, did I say that? I was daydreaming…). Do your homework though. It’s important you don’t panic and make a knee-jerk decision.
Most importantly, replenish those coffee and chocolate supplies. Goodbye Plan B and hello Get Thru!