Plan B

By Byron Moore, posted March 20, 2017

Originally published in the News Star and the Shreveport Times on Sunday, March 19, 2017.

Q: I always thought my career would go in a certain direction. But now my industry is changing and the work I always saw myself doing is about to go the way of buggy whips. I’m afraid of being a dinosaur. What do I do.?

A: Plan B.

plan bYou can fear it. You can try to fight it.

Or you can embrace it and explore its opportunities.

In 1942, economist Joseph Schumpeter coined the term “creative destruction” to describe the messy process of innovation and progress in which economic structures are revolutionized from within.

A lot of telephone operators were put out of work when the cell phone revolution came along. Today most people reading this column own a mobile phone, and many no longer have a telephone line leading into their home. Does anyone seriously pine for the days of black rotary phones?

We all have a Plan A. It’s the way we think (or at least hope) things are going to go in life. It is a general direction or trajectory and we like it because it is predictable. We can prepare for it. We can get comfortable in it.

But eventually, most of us have a Plan B moment. Bam! (maybe that’s what “B” stands for). It all hits the fan and scatters all over the room. Your job changes. Or your personal life undergoes a tectonic shift. You have a financial setback. Or tragedy strikes.

Whatever the exact circumstance, your plans for your future lay in tatters and your life road map seems obsolete.

So what do you do with Plan B?

Accept it. You don’t have to like it, but you do have to deal with it. It is no longer a concept, it is your reality. You can fight it, cry about it, curse God or blame your momma, but there it is…Plan B. It’s now part of your life. The sooner you come to grips with it, the sooner you can move on to…

Adapt to it. Once you accept the reality of Plan B, you can begin to adapt to it. At first, you may be convinced that the adaptation being asked of you is too much. How can you possibly be asked to learn this new skill, start over again financially, live without this person in your life or adapt to new health circumstances? “It’s too much!” you want to say.

And you are correct. It is too much…for now. So just take one step in the right direction. Begin. Keep your goals small, short-term and highly achievable. Just get through today. Just learn one small step in the new process. Just make one new networking phone call in search of a new job. Just have one hard conversation.

Adaptation takes place slowly, over time. It is the proverbial elephant being eaten…one bite at a time.

Appreciate it. “Oh now come on!” I can hear you saying. “You’ve got some nerve asking me to appreciate what has happened to me. Maybe I can accept it and adapt to it, but I’ll be you-know-what if I’m going to appreciate it!”

I get it and I wouldn’t ever ask you to love something that brought you such pain…at first.

But can you at least entertain the possibility that the hard circumstances of Plan B may forge new strengths, capacities, capabilities and (out of all of those) new opportunities for you?

You need not celebrate the death of Plan A to embrace the opportunities of Plan B.

But if you’ll just not stop…if you’ll accept and adapt along the way…don’t be surprised if one day a wry smile crosses your lips when you remember your terror at facing Plan B.

And now how many things there are to appreciate about living in it.

It has become your new Plan A.

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