The reason we so often don’t follow our heart is: we’re afraid that things don’t go as we hope. And then we did not only fail to achieve our dream – but we’re worse off than before! And while this might not always be the case, it is almost always the reason we don’t pursue our dreams: Out of fear.
So let me propose this solution:
Whenever you are afraid of following a dream, have a Plan B. Something safe, that will without doubt work out for you if Plan A fails.
Now, don’t kid yourself. It sounds like an easy solution, but there is a catch.
Most probably, you’ll do one of two things:
- You’ll never fully invest in Plan A to begin with, always thinking that it’s bound to fail anyway. You’ll pretty much go from the Status Quo to Plan B – with a bit of half-hearted tinkering in-between.
- You’ll invest yourself fully in Plan A – but you give up too early and switch Plans when Plan A takes to long and seems to be a dead end. Maybe just at the moment when things were about to change for the better.
It’s impossible to make hard and fast rules here. But here are a few tips that will help:
1. Clearly define what your Plan A is
Let’s not be vague about that. Put down concrete details. Things will change further down the road, and you’ll adjust the details. But for now, set a clearly defined goal. You can only hit goals that you can see.
2. Have a clear set of actionable steps
i.e. what’s the next step? And the step after that? And then?
These steps need to be defined as “I have to do [X]”, and not “[Y] needs to happen”
That way, you can’t sit on your butt and wait for Plan A to simply happen. You’ll know exactly what needs to be done at any point in time, and you can only blame yourself (not life/fate/bad luck) for not doing it.
3. Set a Deadline
There is this amazing short clip on youtube that I love. It’s called “Someday is a disease” Nothing slows you down more than thinking you have all the time in the world. It lets you procrastinate, diverge and meander. You need to set a tight deadline to force you to stay on track, laser-focus style.
You have [X] weeks, and/or [Y] money to get it done – or it’s game over. See what that does to your procrastination, why don’t you.
4. Define Failure
That’s the tricky part. You need to decide beforehand when to abandon your Plan A. If you leave it to your spur of the moment gut feeling, you will either hold on to your dream way past its due date, or you’ll abandon it after a discouraging setback. Again, you can change that criteria as you go along – it’s not set in stone. But it’s good to have a reminder – it will make you think “Oh boy, a few weeks ago I declared this exact situation failure.” or “Nope, I defined failure, and this little setback is not it.”
It’s a bit similar to setting a deadline – whatever happens first.
5. Do not run Plan B in parallel
Remember, this entire endeavour is to make a dream of yours come true. The A-Plan. That’s what it’s all about. So forget about your backup plan. It’ll be there when and if you need it (and if that’s doubtful, then you picked the wrong backup plan).
In the simplest form, Plan B is just going back to what you did before. With a bit of time/money lost for trying.
What’s your Plan A, and Plan B?