Planning to Fail
by C.S. Clarke, Ph.D.
You've most likely heard the adage: "He plans to fail who fails to plan." It's cute, flip and true. But, no matter how well you plan, you will have failures. Too much of life is not in your control. So you also need to consciously plan to fail. That is, you need a backup plan. Sometimes called "Plan B."
You have car and house insurance, right? That's a Plan B. But that's required of you. For what eventualities do you need to voluntarily plan?
From simple and mundane to long-term and complicated, here's a brief sampling of the various Plans B most people need:
Do you faithfully backup your documents, your website, your data? Despite warnings in every business, in every training and all over the Web, millions of people don't. This is one of the best-known Plans B. How often have you lost hours of work because you didn't do the backups you know you need. Yesterday, my brother's website host had a server failure. I had just transferred him to a new web host a few days ago. Were we concerned? No. Sitting on my backup drive is a folder containing his entire site. It gets updated before it gets deployed to the host. Computers fail. Hard drives fail. Networks fail. Web servers fail. As I write, my document is being automatically saved and backed-up. And I will have copies on my computer, my backup drive, my website, and an online service.
Do you have a backup plan for job loss? Or for the need to change jobs for unexpected reasons? Most folks don't. Every coach, every business consultant, every business, and career writer advises you to develop a network. Not only are most jobs filled through personal contacts, but they are filled before they are advertised, so you never will know about them unless you've got the contacts. Network now. Network constantly. You will need it. You will need it. You will need it regardless of your kind of work or your abilities. I know a young woman who is a hairdresser. She's very good about keeping in touch will friends and colleagues. She left one employer for a better job in a more prestigious salon -- a job she got while visiting a friend who worked there. After a couple of years of doing quite well there, she developed an allergy to chemicals required for much of her work there. Big problem? No. A disappointment, yes. However, she's a constant networker. She just walked right back to her prior place of work, where she had visited with the old crew frequently, and took up where she left off. Networking works. From the executive suite to the janitor's closet. Use it. It's your Plan B for your career. You don't just need networking to advance your career in planned steps, you need it for the unplanned steps.
Do you have a backup plan for the constantly changing requirements of the job market? Ongoing technological developments will continue to make formerly valued skills obsolete. For example, think about the number of typesetters who had to learn computer skills to remain relevant in the print industry. That change took place within a very few years' time and those that didn't make the transition to different jobs were out of work. In all industries and professions, new knowledge and skills are evolving daily. Your Plan B must include learning and growing in abilities relevant to your career. It must also include acquiring abilities for other careers if yours fades into oblivion.
Do you have some sort of disability insurance or a savings plan that will see you through the tough times following an accident or debilitating illness? Does your employer have such a plan available for you, even if you have to contribute to it? What would happen to you and your family if you were out of work for accident or illness for six months? A year? More?
It's said that nothing's sure but death and taxes. Given that certainty, do you have a plan for your death? A will. A trust. A burial plot. Yes, you, you 22-year-old. It can happen to you, too. You might not be able to afford the whole kit and caboodle, but you can take the time to make a simple will -- there are free forms available on line. And you can keep a record of important documents, combinations, passwords, financial records, and keep all in a safe place that some friend or family member knows of and can access in the eventuality of your untimely demise.
Think about it. What do you need to include in your plans? Everyone's plans are different. Everyone's backup plans are different. Make your own list of Plans B. Just know that everyone needs Plan B for every Plan A.
Planning to fail is a necessary part of planning to succeed.