Growing up, I was taught that having back up plans were important. If Plan A didn't work, then I'd have Plan B, C or maybe even D to fall back on. While the advice made sense at the time, looking at it from the lens of a small business owner, my greatest achievements have come when I had a Plan A or nothing attitude. In fact, I believe the mere existence of those extra plans are what holds many entrepreneurs back from the business success they could be achieving.
Here are some of my Plan A or nothing moments.
* Though I had my oldest daughter as a freshman in college, I was determined to graduate in four years no matter what. There were times when I was dead tired, but I still studied. Bonding with my daughter had to take priority over hanging out with friends. Sure, I could have chosen a less rigorous school or attempt to graduate in 5 years instead, but I didn't give myself the option. Not only did I graduate in four years, but I graduated with honors. My little one was in the audience to help me celebrate.
* After I left my first post-college job, my goal was to launch my own business by January 1st of the following year. After my potential partners decided to pursue other interests, I could've changed my mind and gotten a "regular job." I could have tried to go back to the job I left (inconsistent pay would be better than no pay), but I didn't. I told myself that this company was launching 1/1, even if I did it as a solopreneur, and it did.
* When I started business school, my daughter was in second grade. After not being selected in the school lottery in our new neighborhood, I decided to keep her at her old school. I didn't have a car, so five days a week, our mornings went like this: catch the train with my daughter, walk her to school, catch the train back to my school, go to class and then get on with my day. With my grandparents' help by bringing her home, we made it work. Yes, I could have let her live with them to make it easier, but it was important for us to be together. She's 18 now and still smiles about our train adventures.
I can reflect on these Plan A or nothing stories with fondness now, but these were not easy periods of my life. At times, it was quite uncomfortable. Imagine studying for finals with a newborn in tow or taking the train in Chicago's subzero temperatures... not fun. If you look back over your life, I'm sure you'll find periods where you also incessantly pursued a goal and achieved it, even when circumstances were not ideal.
So What's the Problem with Having a Plan B?
When you know you have a fallback plan, projects related to your passion can fall to the wayside.
I'm not talking about the work you do to keep the lights on. I'm talking about the work you know you were called to do, those teachings that will really make a difference once you share them with the world. You know, the things you've been meaning to get to ...one day.
I'm not saying that you should go into your job Monday morning and resign or that you should burn every bridge you've got. That's not responsible, especially if others are relying on you for support. No, what I'm saying is to set your mind on that one goal that will mean the most to your life and business right now and then work as hard as you can to achieve it.
Making Plan A Your Main Goal
One of my goals this year is to finish a book about finding your passion and turning it into a profitable business. It takes the methods I use with my clients and condenses them into an interactive workbook. Sounds great, right? Well, the problem is that I've been working on it for years! Why? Given a choice, most people choose to work on projects with deadlines they can see versus ones they create.
I had to make finishing this book a real priority. I've set aside at least 3 times a week to write, even if it means being awake while the rest of my family is asleep or foregoing other activities. Yes, I have other things I need to work on, too, but I have to treat this book as something important. Remember, attaining a goal isn't always going to be comfortable, but it'll be worth it.
To get you started on the path to achieving your goal, I want you to complete the following exercise.
- What is one goal you want to achieve that will really make you happy if you achieve it? This doesn't have to be some big, profound thing, but it might be. Don't censor yourself. Write that goal down.
Let this year be the one you stop putting off your dreams and start living them, Plan A or nothing!
Have you recently quit your job to become an entrepreneur, or do you regularly dream of walking off the job to pursue your dreams? If so, my 16-page guide, I Quit! 10 Things to Do Immediately After Quitting Your Job to Become an Entrepreneur, can help. Grab it, and start working your Plan A today.