I’ve talked about Career Plan B before, but I’d like to be clear about what this concept is. “Plan B” is what you’ll do if your expected career path doesn’t go as you’d like. There’s several ways this might happen:
- The market need for the job might decline or vaporize, making it very hard to get the job you’d like.
- You might lose your job, and be unable to find something similar which meets your requirements.
- You might get burned out with your current career path.
- You might feel that your career isn’t giving you the results you’d like, and would like to consider options.
Plan B, then, is one (or perhaps more) different career options that you’re seriously considering. Why bother?
Well, the value is this:
- It helps expand your thinking beyond your current constraints, even giving yourself permission to “think crazy thoughts” to see what might happen.
- It creates flexibility. Rather than limiting your options to just what’s provided by your current employer or job search, you can exp0and it to include whole new horizons, even evaluating whole new models of how to get income.
- It helps you to weigh your options. When you only have one career direction, then the options may be limited – and may be more driven by your employer than by your own needs. When you have different options, it lets you test them more holistically against how they help you meet your own goals.
This is an especially important topic for me right now, because just this last week I decided to make my previous Career Plan B – being an organizational coach – into my plan A. So I’m no longer hunting for a job; instead, I’m now building my fledgling coaching business. This is a HUGE mental shift for me, and takes a great deal of courage.
One final point I’d note: Having a Career Plan B in mind doesn’t really deliver much value to you until it starts affecting what you’re doing. Am I recommending that you have two jobs, working two careers at the same time? Not at all.
Instead, you need to look to your Plan B to affect:
- What education and learning opportunities you pursue
- What you engage in with your non-work time
- Where you target in your job search
- What data you’re gathering about the market need for those kinds of jobs
So: Make your Career Plan B fairly specific, and then ask yourself how you will make progress on it. Do some investigation. If that shows you the Plan B isn’t worth pursuing, great! Learn, adapt, and grow.