I don't like the idea of plan B.
I'm the kind of person that has come to realize that it's better to take time making a good plan A, and revising it occasionally, than it is to have a bunch of plans distracting you. If you have too many plans, then you won't focus enough on them and may give up easy since you "always have a Plan B."
However, though I believe in this approach of "Plan A first", I do think that there's one thing your career does need: a Career Emergency plan.
A Career Emergency Plan for your career is the professional equivalent of planning for a natural disaster – you get an idea of what you would do in a believable worst-case scenario and make sure you have the plans and resources. You won't spend a lot of time on this plan, since its goal is frankly survival first, but you will need one.
A Career Emergency Plan lets you get back to Plan A after disaster strikes.
You want a Career Emergency Plan for your career to deal with the true crises/disasters – things that leave you suddenly jobless or close to jobless and facing lots of change. Such as:
* A layoff in a tough time when you don't have the money to ride it out or aren't sure you can ride it out.
* A corporate reorganization, such as the one that might leave you facing unwanted relocation.
* Legal regulation that could affect your industry and change your job quickly.
* A massive statewide problem, such as actual physical disaster or economic downturn, that could leave you wanting to leave.
These are the kinds of things that we know happen, but too often don't plan for – or overworry about and overplan for.
Instead, take the time, while working on Plan A, to make sure you have a Career Emergency Plan to keep you afloat and moving ahead in your career despite the likely disasters.
For instance, myself, I had a frank talk with some friends and family about today's economic issues, and we worked out who could support who and how we'd respond to the above issues. I'm pleased to say a good, simple plan came out of it that that will help me and some other people.
So keep working at Plan A. Don't get distracted. Just be ready for those possible, ugly moments so you can get back on track.
– Steven Savage