How Having a ‘Plan B’ Sets You Up for Failure.


A year ago a friend of mine sent me this link that led me to a Will Smith interview where he talked about his focus and “sickening work ethic.” First off I have to say, Will Smith is not only supremely bad ass but he is an incredible role model. Secondly, from watching that video I inherited one of my favourite quotes- “There is no reason for a Plan B because it distracts from Plan A.” This concept has been a huge reflection of why he is so successful and it has been an incredible motivator for myself in accomplishing some of my greatest aspirations.

When we face large goals (you know, those ones that really require a lot of dedication) we typically create a back-up plan as a safety net in order for us to feel secure when taking that gut wrenching leap of faith. An example would be  a career change. A career change requires a lot of  dedication since it makes way for a large shift to take place in your life. Lets say you want to quit your desk job for freelance work or to become an entrepreneur. You decide to write up your resignation letter and you start getting work lined up BUT to be “safe” you send off your resume to another job that looks a lot like the one you are leaving. You know… “just in case.” Some may say this is ‘smart’ but honestly it is rather stupid and totally defeats the purpose of even making a plan in the first place. This back up is called your “Plan B” and your decision for a career change is “Plan A.”

The mentality behind having a “Plan B” is solely based on the idea of you failing, therefore it is fundamentally flawed. By having a back up plan you already accept the idea that there is a possibility that “Plan A” (which is totally awesome) will fail. So guess what? You will fail because you already told yourself that when you do fail that “Oh hey, no worries, I have a back up plan.” Thus you are not being integral to your original plan or goal. I like to think of ‘Plan B’ as this soft place to land called your comfort zone. It is one of the biggest contributors as to why our drive goes out the window. A comfort zone is so much more appealing than taking a chance at something scary and new, especially when things don’t work out as soon as you want them to or according to plan. People back out once they hit a few speed bumps and baby, there will always be speed bumps.

Here’s a personal example: I took my current job because I wanted to make a steady income to help buy new photography equipment for my business then peace out once I was all set. In the daily grind of the 9-5 work week I totally forgot the original intention of why I took the job in the first place and didn’t even save a dime for new equipment. Instead I started to lose all my creative mojo and stopped caring about photography all together. One day I decided that staying in a job I hated was taking a toll on my total well-being (read happiness) and I wanted to get back to living aligned in my passion. This decision ultimately leaves me with leaving my comfy pay cheque that is handed over to me bi-monthly to working really hard for photography clients and goal-coaching clients to sustain me. Scary? Totally! But nothing worth fighting for is ever easy.

I have struggled with fantasies of going back to one of my favourite places to work part-time (aka ‘Plan B’) while I run my business full-time but I know that will only distract me from putting my whole heart in to what I love. I wont work hard for clients or take on new business ventures when I know I have other obligations or a solid pay cheque that allows me to say “no” to new experiences that challenge me. Why take on something challenging when I can take the easy route and sit at a desk all day? It allows me the means to walk back in to my comfort zone. So why even bother with a ‘Plan B’ if its only going to take me away from my original intent? ‘Plan B’ is just an excuse to run away from  fear, and avoid ‘looking bad’ if you don’t get to your goal with smooth sails.

Yes people ‘fail.’ Just because you hit some walls doesn’t mean you give up and go back to a job that leaves you miserable and unfulfilled. It means you need to learn from your set-backs, take in feedback and creatively find solutions.

On my blog I announced on my last post that as of September 1st 2011, I will be my own boss (second round.) I don’t have a back-up plan, no ‘Plan B’. I only have ‘Plan A’ because I refuse to fail and I refuse to allow myself the excuse to go back to something that doesn’t make me happy. It’s scary and I would be lying if I said I don’t wake  up every day with self-defeating thoughts of all the ways it could go wrong… but I remind myself of all the reasons why It will work. Without a back up plan I know I can really focus, work really hard, and be open to feedback in order to grow and be great at what I love.

So now that you know that a ‘Plan B’ mentality is seriously the most ridiculous way to achieve a goal… what is your ‘Plan A’ and when are you implementing it? Remember that when you align with your passion the universe gives you the people and the necessary tools you need to get started. You have all the support in the universe, literally! Live your best life, take that leap and know that you can only fail if you have the mind set of failure. Everything is an opportunity to grow and only you can determine whether you succeed or not.




  1. Article full of great insights! By the way, I would love to have the link to Will Smith’s interview.

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