Why Plan A can severely reduce your momentum

Getting Things Done

Most people think momentum has only one step.
That step is to move forward. And keep moving forward, no matter what the obstacles.
These people have Plan A in mind, and by golly, Plan A is going to get done no matter what!

But what if Plan A itself is a momentum-killer?
So most days I have this plan. It’s a plan that lets me wake up at 4am, and be working by 4:03am. (Yes, without coffee). But on many a day this plan goes wrong. Then I lose momentum. Then the whole day turns to custard.

But not if I have Plan B.
And it’s not just having Plan B that matters. It’s how you design Plan B—that’s what matters! Plan B needs to be considerably less challenging and far more interesting than Plan A. Less challenging “and” far more interesting? Yes indeed: It has to have both those factors in play for Plan B to work.

Let me give you an example:
If Plan A is to write a sales letter that’s 20 pages long, then Plan B is simply a plan to draw some cartoons or do some podcasts. If Plan A is a plan to write five articles for 5000bc.com, then Plan B is to write a blog post or two instead.

Notice something: Plan B isn’t a replacement for Plan A. It’s not something that requires me to do something just as challenging as Plan A. Instead Plan B is quite different. Plan B just takes the pressure off my back and still gets things done.

Everyone talks about having a Plan A and a Plan B.
Everyone designs a Plan A, but fails to design a Plan B.

And that’s why they lose momentum.
(Um, see video below)

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  1. says

    I don’t have them (Plan B items) written out as part of a schedule. But I just have it on a list of things that I need to get down to doing. And when Plan A goes awry, I can quickly switch to Plan B.

  2. says

    I love it!

    The notion of less challenging (whew! relief!) and more interesting (yes! inspiration!) makes a huge difference in how I look at Plan B. I can see how the times when I’ve been most productive are when I have (more or less organically) had a number of Plans B.

    Having a mind map of the big picture for the month/week makes choosing a Plan B pretty easy. Or do you have them written out?

  3. Luuk says

    Why is it that most people look at their plans B as “second choice”, not as valuable or important as their plan A? Or even worse, why do they feel like failures if they don’t succeed to live by plan A every single day?

    In fact plans B are sometimes even more important because they allow you to look at plan A at a distance.
    As long as I do every day ‘a little something’ that leads me to the final goal of plan A, I am happy that I allow myself to have some B-days.

  4. says

    That’s an interesting concept. I know people who often have a Plan B, but it’s never less challenging and more interesting than Plan A was.

    Plan B has always seemed like a cop-out to me.

    Thanks for giving me this new perspective, it may stop my whole day from turning to “custard” as well!


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