Do you have a Plan B?

Plan B

For the most part, it’s great to have a backup plan.

When an NFL quarterback is about to run a play but sees that the defense’s setup will defend it well, he calls an audible. That’s his plan B.

If you’re applying for colleges, you don’t only apply to one school, you apply to a few of them. If you don’t get into your top choices, your safety school is your Plan B.

In those cases, it’s great to have a Plan B. It may help you minimize uncertainty and adapt to certain circumstances.

But are there times where a Plan B is detrimental? Maybe.

If you know you have a Plan B to fall back on, you might not work that hard to execute and accomplish Plan A.

Take a startup for instance. If you have a backup plan, you might not focus on your current startup idea to the fullest. Or if you’ve raised a large round of funding, you may not efficiently spend your money knowing that you have so much in the bank.

Or if you’re a very wealthy individual, you might have your future spouse sign a prenup. When things get tough, you might not try as hard to work through your problems if you know you won’t lose half of your wealth if you split up. Total speculation here, by the way.

There actually has been a study done on this, where researchers determined that merely thinking about a Plan B may diminish the probability of success of Plan A.

It’s an interesting dilemma.

On one hand, thinking of a backup plan makes total sense, as you’d like to be prepared for anything that comes your way.

On the other hand, doing so might be detrimental to your success.

What are your thoughts on devising a Plan B? Do you know of cases where a Plan B was counterproductive?

I’d love to hear from you. Write your thoughts in the comments, tweet at me @mikewchan, or email me at

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