Backup Planning Ahead

Most plans, at some point, involve at least a little bit of waiting. If you’re building a house, there are times where materials are being delivered and will take some time to arrive. If you’ve interviewed for a new job, there’s time spent waiting for feedback. And so on.

What most people do during that time is wait. But if the plan is for something important, that’s a terrible idea. What you should do is immediately move onto Plan B.

This is true even if you have absolutely no reason to think Plan A will fail! If the project is important, then mitigate the effects of random acts of chance as much as possible. Let’s say you’ve ordered some building materials for a construction project with a tight deadline. You have no reason to believe that they’ll be late, and you should be fine. Even so, if you’d otherwise just be spending the time waiting “on pause” for them to arrive, you should instead start figuring out how you’ll continue the project without those materials arriving promptly.

At worst, you train yourself to respond to future emergencies, even if this one doesn’t manifest. At best, you actually find that your Plan B looks better than your original course of action and you’ve found a new and better way to do things. And somewhere in the middle, you may prevent an unexpected disaster.

This doesn’t have to apply to everything. If you’re baking banana bread, it’s fine to just wait while it bakes. If it turns out bad, it probably wasn’t a disaster worth stressing over, so it’s fine to just read a book or something. But I’m always shocked when I see people who just “wait and see” when it’s a major endeavor. You can have delivered the best interview of your life and you’re certain you’re going to get an offer – even so, if you’re looking for your next career move you don’t leave it up to chance.

When it’s a big deal, use all your resources – and one of the most precious ones you have is the time you’d spend waiting.

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