B1 Intermediate UK 368 Folder Collection
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We grow up - inevitably - with a strong attachment to a plan A, that is, an idea of how our lives
will go and what we need to do to achieve our particular set of well-defined goals.
For example, we'll do four years of law school, then move out west, buy a house and
start a family. Or, we'll go to medical school for 7 years, then go to another country
and train in our speciality of interest and hope to retire by fifty. Or we'll get married
and raise two children with an emphasis on the outdoors and doing good in the world.
But then, for some of us and at one level all of us, life turns out to have made a few
other plans. A sudden injury puts a certain career forever out of reach. A horrible and
unexpected bit of office politics blackens our name and forces us out of our professional
path. We discover an infidelity or make a small but significant error which changes
everything about how crucial others view us.
And so, promptly, we find we have to give up on plan A altogether. The realisation can
feel devastating. Sobbing or terrified, we wonder how things could have turned out this
way. By what piece of damnation has everything come to this? Who could have predicted that
the lively and hopeful little boy or girl we once were would have to end up in such
a forlorn and pitiful situation? We alternately weep and rage at the turn of events.
It is for such moments that we should, even when things appear calm and hopeful, consider
one of life's most vital skills: that of developing a plan B.
The first element involves fully acknowledging that we are never cursed for having to make
a plan B. Plan As simply do not work out all the time. No one gets through life with all
their careful plan As intact. Something unexpected, shocking and abhorrent regularly comes along,
not only to us, but to all human beings. We are simply too exposed to accident, too lacking
in information, too frail in our capacities, to avoid some serious avalanches and traps.
The second point is to realise that we are, despite moments of confusion, eminently capable
of developing very decent plan Bs. The reason why we often don't trust that we can is
that children can't so easily - and childhood is where we have all came from and continue
to be influenced by in ways it's hard to recognise. When children's plans go wrong,
they can't do much in response: they have to stay at the same school, they can't divorce
their parents, they can't move to another country or shift job. They're locked in
and immobile.
But adults are not at all this way, a glorious fact which we keep needing to refresh in our
minds and draw comfort from in anxious moments. We have enormous capacities to act and to
adapt. The path ahead may be blocked, but we have notable scope to find other routes
through. One door may close, but there truly are many other entrances to try. We do not
have only one way through this life, even if - at times - we cling very fervently to
a picture of how everything should and must be.
We're a profoundly adaptable species. Perhaps we'll have to leave town forever, maybe
we'll have to renounce an occupation we spent a decade nurturing, perhaps it will
be impossible to remain with someone in who
It can feel desperate - until we rediscover our latent plan B muscle. In reality, there
would be a possibility to relocate, to start afresh in another domain, to find someone
else, to navigate around the disastrous event. There was no one script for us written at
our birth, and nor does there need to be only one going forward.
It helps, in flexing our plan B muscles, to acquaint ourselves with the lives of many
others who had to throw away plan As and begin anew: the person who thought they'd be married
forever, then suddenly weren't - and coped; the person who was renowned for doing what
they did, then had to start over in a dramatically different field - and found a way.
Amidst these stories, we're liable to find a few people who will tell us, very sincerely,
that their plan B ended up, eventually, superior to their plan A. They worked harder for it,
they had to dig deeper to find it and it carried less vanity and fear within it.
Crucially, we don't need to know right now what our plan Bs might be. We should simply
feel confident that we will, if and when we need to, be able to work them out. We don't
need to ruminate on them all now or anticipate every frustration that might come our way;
we should simply feel confident that, were the universe to command it, we would know
how to find a very different path.
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There Is Always a Plan B

368 Folder Collection
Amy.Lin published on August 28, 2019
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