“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
We have all heard the advice: What is Plan B? Do you need a Plan B? Plan B is a must! We have tried it both ways and our experience is that Plan B dramatically reduces our chance of success and it doesn’t serve us and our big dreams. As 2023 marks our 10th year as a nomadic family, we are recommitting to No Plan B in 2023.
We have talked to many people who are struggling with the amount of bad news that is available 24 hours a day. It makes it difficult to dream big and believe in Plan A when risk management is all about Plan B and C and even D. What we have learned is that it makes so much more sense to spend time creating a solid, intentional Plan A and giving all our hearts and energies to watching it unfold!
For us, the risks involved in putting all our energy into Plan A are far more exciting than they are scary. Conversely, when we have a plan B, it feels as though we start from a place of fear, and that never fuels the momentum we need to take the next leap. Plan B lessens our personal commitment to Plan A. What we know to be true is that if we feel inclined to have a Plan B, it means our Plan A needs work!
Our Plan A Guidelines
Set Aside Time Now for Success in The Future
Take time away and work to come up with Plan A after you have clarity about Vision, Values, and Purpose. For more about how our family builds a visionary framework, read Stepping Out Tonight. Our Plan A is our BHAG or Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal. BHAGs were first talked about in Collins and Porras’ book Built to Last and they have been a part of our family vocabulary ever since. A BHAG is a goal that is energizing, barely attainable, bold, compelling, and inspiring. We use the BHAG framework to develop Plan A. I would caution though that if you try to create a Plan A without laying the visionary foundation (values, vision, purpose) then it will be hard to go all in with Plan A without the framework and common language to support your goals.
Keep It General
When we talk about Plan A and we start our brainstorming process as a family, one of us may interrupt the process stating, “I feel like I am paddling upstream.” When a family member says this we all know they feel a certain level of resistance and the plan is not believable to the point where they can gain real momentum. We regroup and work together to “turn the boat around” and find the flow. We keep talking until we have a Plan A that genuinely fuels all of us forward and we know we have a winner.
This is a more complicated process now that we have three teenagers who all have their own inspired paths. We have found, however, it is more important with young adults than ever before, to have clarity around the direction. The winning plan is always a very general one but it is also clear to all of us what it feels like to achieve it. Keeping it general allows us to pivot or face obstacles with curiosity versus a feeling of failure.
There Are No Wrong Turns
We often tell our consulting clients there is never a happy ending to an unhappy journey. Stop and take the time at every crossroads to accept shifts in the plan. As long as the action we are taking is inspired, and we are aligned with the plan as a family, we have faith the path is revealing itself even if it is taking unexpected turns.
Build The Picture of Success Before Taking Any Action
After we agree on Plan A as a family and feel it is sufficiently Big, Hairy, and Audacious, we build our envisioned future. We look at our Plan A and say, one year from today, (or 6 months, or 3 years) we will be sitting around the table and talking about our what we have accomplished since setting our Plan A in motion. We build the vision by asking questions like; What we will be saying about the past year? Who will be present? How will we describe the events that transpired to achieve Plan A? How we will feel as a result of our success? The ability to envision success is also a litmus test to insure that Plan A has teeth for everyone involved.
Plan A Is The Way
Our nomadic lifestyle has taught us that Plan A is the way. When we sold all of our belongings and packed five carry-on bags, we were showing ourselves that we were committed and had significant skin in the game. We have learned this is the level of commitment it takes for us to keep finding success as we take inspired action in the direction of our dreams.
We don’t carry backup plans in our suitcases. They are too easy to unpack. It doesn’t mean we are not flexible with Plan A, it means we give it our all, and as Emerson said, “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” Our plan B is to accomplish plan A.