Do you have a plan b in your career?

I love a plan. It makes me feel safe and keeps me motivated. A plan helps me feel in control but the truth is, we’re never really fully in control so what happens when it all goes to pot? Do you have a plan b in your career?


I am feeling frustrated as I write this. I've hurt my foot, well, actually, my foot hurts and I'm only 90% sure why. I'm resting and doing all I can to recover, and it's working, but it's slow! It’s frustrating because I've set myself a huge running goal for next year and I've got caught up in thinking I won't be able to achieve it; before I've even started! (But that's just fear talking.) So, I have come up with a plan b. It’s not just running {insert another hobby here} either - we often feel frustrated in our careers. 


When it’s not working out as planned

Sometimes we can make a plan but then something unexpected, often out of our control happens. I see it a lot in folks just starting out in their career and in those looking for a career change. They know what they want but it's not happening. It can feel immensely frustrating. 


It is at this point I find folks telling me that they feel stuck, that they’re never going to meet their goal. People often feel like they have no options - they either need to stay in a role they hate or quit immediately. Or feel like they need to settle for a role that is less than they deserve because they don’t think they will find something better. 

Plan a is still plan a

I am not suggesting that you spend all your time planning for every eventuality - you can’t. Nor do I want you to fall into a trap of overthinking. You need to work towards plan a - that’s why it’s called plan a! You will need to decide how you want to go about it - do you want to jump right in or wade in more slowly? Weigh up the benefits and the risks (this is where speaking to someone impartial can be really helpful). One size doesn’t fit all. You may also decide that plan a isn’t the thing you want anymore - that’s ok too. 

Having options isn’t a bad thing

I think that sometimes we think that having a plan b in your career means that we won’t achieve plan a. But, it's ok to have a plan b, or even plan c. The reason to have it is only in case you need it. In one sense, it doesn’t need too much planning, it’s more of a thought. 


Reasons you might need a plan b include that your mental, emotional or physical health might be affected; your job might be at risk; you may be unable to find a job you want; there may be a gap in your knowledge or experience or your career may not be progressing in the way you want.


What plan b might look like in your career

I often advise my clients to have a plan B. For example, you might be thinking of a career change but you're not seeing the right role in your chosen sector. Plan B might look like:


  • Looking for a role using your current skills in the short term (6-12 months)
  • Looking for a voluntary role where you can build the transferable skills you need
  • Extending the timeframe for moving into your career of choice
  • Changing one of the other variables e.g. location, type of company etc
  • Taking a stepping stone role that bridges the gap


For my running, I like to have gold, silver and bronze goals. It allows me to have some flexibility for those unexpected bumps in the road. I realised that I could transfer this over to my own career, and I recommend this to my clients. 


What would your gold, silver and bronze goals be?


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