I actually like the idea, but in a different way than most; I like it because it respects fear.
Fear is as every bit as valid as joy, love, anger, and curiosity because, fear, like all emotion, is a teacher. The problem is that we don’t often take time to decode the messages.
Fear occurs for a very good—and usually a very simple—reason. It’s an alert that calls your attention to see if something you’re doing might be dangerous. So, when you feel the fear, before doing it anyway – have a look at what triggered the alarm. Most of the time the fear is a paper tiger – but sometimes not, so only after you’ve checked should you – do it anyway.
Your challenge is to think about that ‘thing’ that you’ve been putting off – working on a business plan, taxes, going to the gym, enrolling in school, whatever. Think of that ‘thing’ and feel the fear. Allow yourself to look at what’s got you scared, and if it seems a paper tiger, consider getting a move on. You’ll probably have an easier time getting started, too, because the fear won’t feel quite the same anymore.
Use the power of the Plan B cringe to get you through the challenges of Plan A.
A back-up plan is the slightly less fulfilling version of a first choice. We fall back on Plan B when Plan A goes south. There are two schools of thought about back-up plans:
School of Thought 1: Back-Up Plans Are Dangerous
Some discourage creating Plan B because they believe it makes it too easy to give up on a dream should Plan A get challenging—and Plan A always gets challenging at some point. When the going gets rough, you’ll opt-out.
School of Thought 2: Back-Up Plans Have Cringe Energy
If your dream—your Plan A—is compelling and passionate, the thought of having anything less than exactly Plan A will make you cringe so hard that you’ll find a way to get through the challenges.
Not ‘All or Nothing’
The kind of back-up plan I’m talking about isn’t a black/white choice of all or nothing. I’m referring to a second choice that’s less colorful or fulfilling than your first choice. For example, I recently watched Beyonce’ perform at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. I imagine that, all along, Beyonce’s Plan A was to become a powerful entertainer that could stand center stage in front of a packed audience. (She did and it was awesome!)
Her Plan B might have been to perform as a back-up singer; still on stage but not front and center. I’m sure Beyonce’ must have felt the cringe, don’t you think?
Your challenge this week is to find your cringe. Spend some time clarifying what you’ll have to give up or miss out on if you opt-out of your Plan A. If you don’t cringe pretty hard, then reconsider Plan A—it might not be as compelling and passionate as you thought. But, if you feel the grip of that cringe, remember to use its energy when you need help pulling through a challenge.
You might need to be uncomfortable in order to get happy. Be brave and ask a lot of curious questions so that uncomfortable choices are wisely made.
Remembered experiences, and the feelings we associate with them, form our thoughts about who we think ourselves to be. The older we get the more experience we have thinking of ourselves in a certain way. It’s how we come to know who we are.
Knowing ourselves makes decision-making easier. We can make good predictions about the future based on our memories of similar situations from the past. Our ability to predict the outcome of a choice is possible through our associative memory. Thanks to our hippocampus, a part of our unconscious mid-brain, we can store memories about people, places, and things as remember feelings. That means that we’re likely to feel good about something new if we’ve stored good feelings about something similar.
Living Inside the Box
It stands to reason that most people choose that which makes them comfortable. The problem is that feeling comfortable may be nothing more than having familiarity with something. Just because it’s familiar doesn’t guarantee it’ll be good for you. So, if all of your choices are made so that you feel comfortable, you might find yourself trapped in an uncomfortable box.
Follow the trail – is it comfortably bad or uncomfortably good
To “feel” is simply thinking in the past.
Sometimes you might have to choose to be uncomfortable in order to get happy. Be brave and ask a lot of curious questions so that uncomfortable choices are wisely made.