I ran a workshop recently entitled, “Plan B for Backup: What Other Options Do You Have for the Future in Terms of Your Career and Making Money?” Not a very felicitous title, but I hope you get the idea. I started by calling it simply, “Plan B”, but it was pointed out to me in no uncertain terms by a fellow career coach that Plan B was a contraceptive device, but not for job seekers.
And therein lies the problem for some job seekers as they go about trying to define a new direction. It’s easier to be naysayer to a new aspiration than it is to nurture it to life.
The process of developing a Plan B is really one of internal and external conception: coming up with ideas for new paths in life; allowing yourself the space to, as one participant put it so rightly, “daydream” about all the ways you could make money that you had never before dared envision; and then going out and testing the waters.
But we saw in the workshop that there are those who can’t get away from the notion of contraception: all the reasons why the workshop was wrongly named and all the reasons why you can’t do this job or that one. For example, one person briefly considered working at a museum given her love of the fine arts, but she was quickly reminded that there was fierce competition for those positions and they paid poorly. So much for that hot idea; it got a quick bath of cold water and sizzled on the workshop floor.
Developing a Plan B requires not only the courage to be unbound by the past or by negative thinking, but also a willingness to enthusiastically complete the workshop activities including (1) contacting old friends and colleagues to poll them on your strengths; (2) scoring potential Plan B “survival jobs” for your degree of acceptance in doing them; and (3) taking a long hard look at your interests/passions to see which ones you could profit from now.
Let’s face it: it ain’t easy coming up with new directions for your work life and there are lots of naysayers out there who are more than happy to squelch your idea before it gets off the ground. Parents who want you to fulfill their own dreams; colleagues stuck in a rut who don’t want to see someone else fly high — don’t forget what happened to Icarus; and fellow job seekers who can’t help but project their own natural and understandable frustrations upon you.
What’s a jobseeker to do? Simple. Choose your confidants carefully; let your daydreams rise up freely as cumulous clouds on a warm summer day, and curb your inclination to share too much too early. Wait until you have something of substance going before sharing it too widely.
We also took a few minutes to review some of the Plan B “survival job” choices that previous members had opted for and here are a few that proved particularly successful as transitional experiences for those who did them: Loews Paint Department salesperson; Whole Foods Cheese Department server/expert; Audi/Porsche salesman; Best Buy computer salesman; bakery owner; paralegal; mortgage broker; personal tutor to high school students; substitute teacher; acupuncturist; Boston tour guide; Williams Sonoma retail sales person and cooking demonstrator; wine salesperson and distributor; and housepainter.
As for the workshop facilitator, I learned my lesson: next time we do the Plan B Workshop, we’ll ban the Plan B contraceptives, but nourish the Plan B conceptions for those ready for finding new types of jobs.