By Dr. Valerie Allen
We all hope for Plan A, nevertheless, often wind up dealing with Plan B—the unexpected. In life, we aim for the highest achievement, plan on success, and expect the best. Plan B is not a substitute for Plan A, it is a temporary detour. Plan B may be a setback, but you can deal with it and by doing so, eliminate a stumbling block on the road to Plan A.
Happy, successful people develop a firm belief in their resiliency and self-efficacy. To believe we will never face adversity, that nothing bad will ever happen or misfortune will never come our way, is unrealistic. These beliefs set us up for frustration and disappointment.
Instead, know and believe when faced with a challenge, we will rise to the occasion with our best and fullest resources. Our goal is not to wish and hope an adverse event will not happen. Our goal is to prepare and take action that will resolve or improve the situation if, and when, it does occur. We need to adapt to Plan B to bring about the least harmful result, the least hurt, and ultimately the best outcome, given the situation.
Of course, sometimes strange things happen to Plan A along the way. Often, when forced to deal with Plan B, we learn, we grow, and we change. Sometimes we replace our Plan A with our Plan B. This can happen because we realize we enjoy and are better suited to Plan B than we were to Plan A. A switch from Plan A to Plan B could be a matter of economic necessity, family crises, or a change in opportunities. It is not always a bad thing to replace Plan A with Plan B.
Presto-Change-o! – Plan “B” becomes Plan “A”: We all start with Plan A in mind. Over time, due to circumstances, we make choices. Our decisions take us in new directions, with different possibilities. How we deal with these challenges makes all the difference. Do we choose the comfort and safety of what we know or do we choose the road less traveled? It’s not the events, but our decision in how to handle them that brings us to where we are now. Often, due to these considerations, our Plan A is replaced by Plan B. Our Plan B has now become our Plan A. Sometimes this leads to a better outcome, which we were unaware of or not considering when we set our mind on our original Plan A.
Proactive vs. Reactive: We do not have total control of how we got to where we are, but we have the ability to set our own goals and determine the road we will take. You can decide to give up at each hurdle, or work your way around them and keep going. You need to take charge of your life. Anticipate reality: things will go wrong, bad things may happen, you may change your mind, and there will be delays in reaching your goals. This does not mean failure, it means an opportunity to grow and change. You determine your life’s agenda, based on your needs and values. You must understand yourself and know what you expect of others. Your decisions should be based on your emotional strengths and self-confidence. You need to be proactive in identifying and meeting your own needs, not reactive to the behavior or needs of others.
When you find yourself in the If only or the Wait until life style, you are putting off living based on some external event, over which you may have little or no control. Consider the What if life style. What if I don’t live that long? What if I wait until it’s too late? As you debate how to act or react, life moves on. It is better to make a decision, than be lost to indecision.
* * * *This is an edited excerpt from a book by Dr. Valerie Allen, Beyond the Inkblots: Confusion to Harmony.
Dr. Valerie Allen is a licensed school psychologist and board certified rehabilitation counselor and case manager. She has taught students from elementary school through graduate studies in the fields of education and mental health. She is a popular author of children’s books, short stories, fiction, and non-fiction. Amazon.com/author/valerieallen