I resigned almost 4 years ago without a PLAN B. It took nearly 3 years to form an amazing new career but if I’d understood the importance of a decent Plan B before I’d resigned, I’d have done my thinking while I was still being paid.
I’d also have saved myself valuable life time, money, the stress of feeling stuck for so long and the wasted energy of travelling down long blind (and sometimes fun) alleys.
If you’ve read anything else I’ve written, you’ll know of my firm belief that life is simply too short and too precious to waste it doing work you don’t love. A good Plan B affords us the opportunity to enjoy a career that fits, second time around.
Who needs a Career Plan B?
If you're over 40 years old, you'll NEED a Career Plan B. Enough said. Read this article if you need further convincing.
Who doesn't need a Career Plan B?
Individuals who find their current work deeply fulfilling, satisfying and fun DON'T need a Career Plan B. I doubt you'd be reading this article if that were your situation.
Purpose of a Career Plan B:
To provide light at the end of a tunnel - sometimes a dark boring tunnel, sometimes a stressful, painful tunnel and sometimes just a very average long tunnel that we can’t even remember entering.
Not all Career Plan Bs are the same.
The two major styles of Career Plan B:
· Pipe-dream Career Plan B
· Real Career Plan B
Definition of a Pipe-dream Career Plan B:
A career escape route that may not be required but is considered the best alternative route in lieu of other options.
“I’ll save enough to retire a few years early and travel the world.”
“When the inevitable happens, I’ll sell the house, buy something on the coast and find a little business to run.”
“When the time is right, I’ll retrain to become an X.”
None are quantifiable. None are testable. None are time-framed. None are within our control. None require very specific planning to ensure they happen. In other words…pipe-dreams.
My definition of a REAL Career Plan B:
- A different route that creates the best possible alternative to the work you’re currently doing that has the potential to feel fulfilling and satisfying, to bring more fun into your life and to earn enough to sustain a chosen lifestyle.
- It’s the best possible alternative because you have spent time making sure you would be doing the work that you LOVE doing through experimentation, analysis and tweaking of your ideas. You’ve ensured that you understand what it takes to make your Real Career plan successful before you launch into it and are prepared to do what it takes.
Quite a difference, eh?
The best time to design your Real Career Plan B:
When you don’t NEED it.
In an ideal world, you’d begin investigating your REAL career Plan B when you are at the height of your career yet totally understand that you may not be doing what you’re doing forever. You’d probably still enjoy parts of your current work but the sheen may have worn off a while ago. You have financial commitments that you’re not prepared to compromise on. This is the perfect time because your brain is in relaxed mode. You’ve got time on your side but you’d really love to have at least one ready-packaged idea that you could investigate and research in the background to make ready to go when the time is right.
WARNING! If you’ve been made redundant, fired or are on sick leave due to work stress you really NEED a plan B but annoyingly your brain is in the worst state to create a one. It’s perfectly possible but it will take a little more work on your part to calm the brain stress enough to allow you to re-think your career whilst quashing the “I-NEED-a-new-job-now!” very natural human reaction to your circumstances.
Read this article on how the brain sees career change if you’d like to know more. In this situation, you might prefer a staged Plan B. Often individuals who’ve been made redundant, fired or are on sick leave due to work stress choose to find “a job” to get the brain into relaxed mood again in order to permit the right psychological mind-frame to then begin to create a REAL career plan B.
How NOT to find a real career Plan B:
Start at the end – become inspired by one idea for a business or new career then throw yourself into that idea 100%, watch it fail (or if you’re extremely lucky it might succeed) and become dejected, negative and sad when the Plan B doesn’t work as well as you'd hoped.
Don’t buy a domain name, sign up to a year-long course, employ a website designer or personal branding guru. It’s way too early for these activities but they are signs that you’ve started at the end.
How to START designing your Real Career Plan B:
Start at the beginning - with the only thing that will remain the same no matter what type of work you end up doing in the future i.e. YOU!
Figure out your SuperPowers: the activities that you do very naturally; the activities that others value highly; those that don’t drain the life out of you and those that give you deep satisfaction.
Then begin to imagine ways that you could get paid to do much more of those activities in the future.
Then start with very small, sometimes scary experiments (Read about one of my scary early-stage experiments HERE) and analyse the results.
Refine the ideas
Easy peasy - eh?
Well, of course it’s not that easy for many of us. Not if we’ve spent the last 15-20 years working within one industry or within one discipline. Most people I meet in those situations have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT THEIR SUPERPOWERS ARE because they have stopped using them as they moved up the ranks, or they have forgotten them or they have simply become disconnected from them.
If that’s the situation with you, don’t lose heart. Some of the most successful career transformations I’ve witnessed have been created by individuals who had no idea where to begin to find their SuperPowers – or indeed if they had any at all to begin with! They just needed to expend a little extra effort early doors dusting down their memory to re-discover them.
I’ve never met anyone who is without SuperPowers.
It’s impossible to get to our age and not have some very fine and unique SuperPowers – you just can't see them because you're not valuing them the way others do.
If you’d like to begin your search for your SuperPowers alone – download my SuperPowers Starter questions here.
But if you think the answers are too deeply buried, let me help you...
Check out my Discover My SuperPowers programme here but essentially, with a few short thinking assignments at home + a half-day session with me, we’ll uncover a totally unique list of 4/5 of SuperPowers.
Then you’ll know exactly where to start in creating your own personal REAL Plan B.
HOW TO BOOK: CLICK HERE TO BOOK A (FREE) "LIGHT AT THE END OF MY TUNNEL" CONVERSATION. I'll send you a few pre-call questions to allow me to learn more about your situation upfront and you can make sure we're a good fit before we go and book our half-day session.