Plan B is Not Negative Thinking

“If you plan for success, you’ll succeed, if you plan for failure, you will fail.” I’m a big believer in thinking positively, planning for success, and not feeding the inner critic.

I also believe that having a Plan B–what to do in the worst-case scenario–is an excellent idea. Those thoughts, which seem to be opposite, can be held at the same time quite successfully.

Aren’t they opposites? And if I have a Plan B, am I not planning for failure? I used to think that, too, until I had a really clear understanding of planning.

Plan B is a way of looking ahead, of seeing where the obstacles might be. This is exactly what I do when I’m on the motorcycle–I keep an eye out for an escape route. Can I stop if that car cuts in front of me? What will I do if that one brakes or swerves? It’s a moment-to-moment adjustment that has saved my life more than once. It’s not negative thinking. It’s planning a way through and then out.

mapBy thinking ahead, I am solving problems to avoid them. I am also making myself aware that I can face problems. And because I believe in learning by making mistakes, even by failing, planning the next step becomes a positive action. Studying what went wrong and figuring out how to fix it increases not only knowledge, but problem-solving skills.

And once I have a Plan B, I can turn toward the goal. Looking ahead to the goal is the best way to make steps to get there. If you constantly have to fight back the fear and refuse to face it, you aren’t being positive, you are wasting time chasing fear. Plan B is the realization that you are past the fear block, and are moving ahead to the goal.

The poet W.H. Auden wrote:

“The sense of danger must not disappear:
The way is both short and steep,
However gradual it looks from here;
Look if you like, but you will have to leap.”

Fear prevents you from leaping. And not leaping prevents you from the full adventure that is your life. Planning and training for leaps keeps you prepared for whatever shows up.

-Quinn McDonald is re-thinking some of the tropes she’s lived with for a long time. It keeps her ready to leap.

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15 thoughts on “Plan B is Not Negative Thinking

  1. Pingback: Weekly Retreats - Link Round-Up - Pierced Wonderings

  2. After reading this post, I was immediately reminded of a conversation I had with a friend once. He was considering quitting his job because he hated it so much and when I said that his savings weren’t for living expenses but for contingencies, he told me I was being negative and didn’t want to talk about it with me anymore. Maybe that means I’m not as risk tolerant as I should be, but I was completely shocked that he would take such a step without a plan B firmly in place. You’re totally right; a plan B I will save your life. Ars poetica…

    • There are so many viewpoints about life. The old fable of the grasshopper and the ant (or the turtle and the hare)–and each of us has our own idea of what works. I own my own business, to I have to be risk tolerant, but I always plan ahead and make lists, so that counters it.

  3. What struck me in this article is that you ride a motorcycle? Really? I’d love to hear about it sometime — make, model, how long you’ve had it, etc. I think you and I are close in age and I would sure find it inspiring to know about yours. Truly!

    • I’ve been riding for over 15 years. I ride a cruiser–a 2007 Honda Shadow, 750cc engine. It’s not huge, and quite nimble. Good torque in the lower gears, which means I can accelerate away from trouble quickly. It became “more powerful” as I lost weight, and I had to learn a lot of the body motions over again once the weight was off.

  4. The defensive driving example is a wonderful illustration.

    My plans for success are just that . . . MY plans. Plan B is to help me get through what that other silly beggar might do or what life may throw at me in its delightful random way.

    To say Plan B is planning for failure is as nonsensical as saying my having emergency supplies means I’m planning an earthquake!

    Fantastic post Quinn!

    • Thanks, Wendy. I’ve always been a planner, and while I’ve learned to let go of a lot of expectations and control, I think planning ahead is a great way to know what will pop up on the road ahead.

  5. I loved this post. To me it is like checking to see where the closest exit is in the event of an emergency. Not negative at all just good to think ahead.

    • I do that in every hotel. I know where the exit is, because I don’t want to figure it out in a smoke-filled hallway. And I’ve had to do that before. It allows me to sleep better.

  6. I like the “triple A” motto.
    I have always had a plan B and sometimes, like Lin, a C, D, etc. And sometimes I have to come up with a few more on the fly!
    It gives me breathing room when things start piling up and I feel like I can’t breathe.
    I have always been a list maker and a planner and it has served me well. I’m well known for being an idea person but the truth is I have secretly lived by rhodyart’s “triple A” method my whole life.
    thanks for putting it into words!

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