Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 19, 2021

Having A Backup Plan May Keep You From Achieving Your Goal, Research Finds

Having A Backup Plan May Keep You From Achieving Your Goal, Research Finds

“There is no reason to have a plan B because it distracts from plan A” ~Will Smith

Such a profound and thought provoking statement. But is it accurate?

Professor Jihae Shin, Assistant Professor of Management and Human Resources at the Wisconsin School of Business (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Katherine L. Milkman from the Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania) conducted an experiment to research this topic and have concluded that it is–indeed–a very accurate statement. Their research proves that merely thinking through a backup plan, in most cases, reduces overall goal performance and hurts the chances of successfully achieving the primary goal.

Advertising

The Research

Shin and Milkman conducted a series of experiments set out to test the notion that backup planning does more harm than good. They set up a series of laboratory experiments to test this theory. In one experiment, participants were given a sentence-unscrambling task and told that if they showed high performance on the task, they would be given a free snack or the chance to leave the study early. One set of participants were then instructed to find other ways they could get free food on campus, or make arrangements to eat later in the day in case they didn’t do well enough to earn the snack or the early dismissal. And you probably guessed the outcome. Those that were able to make plans to get food later did not perform as well as the group that did not have other plans.

Through a series of similar experiments, the cohort was able to determine that making a plan B caused people to exert less effort and energy and to be less successful at attaining their primary goal.

An article published in Science Daily further investigates and validates that backup plans are not as beneficial as once thought. The article discusses the findings of scientists from the University of Zurich who have developed a new theoretical model to study the use and usefulness of backup plans.

Advertising

“Our model is based on a straightforward idea: backup plans change the way you pursue your goal, even if you aren’t using them, and even if you never use them,” said Dr. Christopher Napolitano, who is a researcher and lead author of their essay.

Simply put, research shows that the “backup plan effect” is counterintuitive and works by diminishing the desire to achieve the goal. Reduced desire means reduced motivation, which translates into a reduction in effort and performance.

Throw caution to the wind–cautiously

So are these research findings suggesting that we throw caution to the wind and chase our dreams with reckless abandon? Not exactly… It’s a bit more complicated than that.

Advertising

Research shows that only having a plan A works when the outcome of the goal is largely under your control. For example, winning the lottery should not be your only goal. The ability to reach that goal is largely outside of your control making it imperative that you have a plan B. However, if obtaining a college degree is your goal, having a backup plan may sabotage your efforts of toughing it out and seeing it through to the end. The backup plan effect is particularly counterintuitive when it comes to things like marriage and certain financial, educational and career goals. If you give yourself an out–you are probably going to take it.

However, scientists suggest that while making a backup plan can be detrimental and counterproductive, it does not mean that people should go through life without EVER having one. Experts say you could explore ways to mitigate the negative effects — such as being more strategic about when you make a backup plan.

“You might want to wait until you have done everything you can to achieve your primary goal first,” Shin suggests.

At the end of the day, investing too much time and energy in making backup plans could create a sort of ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ where one becomes more susceptible to using a well-developed backup plan, and subsequently failing to make a sufficient investment into succeeding with a plan A.

More by this author

Denise Hill

Denise shares about psychology and communication tips on Lifehack.

10 Quick and Healthy Lunch Ideas That Fit Your Busy Schedule 20 Simple Ways to Bring Positive Energy into Life Right Now Revealed: The 6 Best Beginner’s Exercises for You to Get a Strong Core Having A Backup Plan May Keep You From Achieving Your Goal, Research Finds Successful People Aren’t Gifted. They Just Master Some Goal Setting Techniques

Trending in Goal Getting

1 How to Find Your Passion and Live a More Fulfilling Life 2 How to Set Realistic Short Term Goals for a Successful Life 3 How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them 4 7 Steps For Making a New Year’s Resolution and Keeping It 5 How to Find an Accountability Partner to Help You Reach Your Goal

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Find Your Passion and Live a More Fulfilling Life

How to Find Your Passion and Live a More Fulfilling Life

If you could do one thing to transform your life, I would highly recommend it be to find something you’re passionate about, and do it for a living. Learning how to find your passion may not be as easy as it sounds, but it’s well worth the effort.

If you dread going to your job, find yourself constantly lacking motivation, or find what you’re doing dull and repetitive, you need to start looking for a new job.

Staying in your current job will not only continue to leave you feeling stuck and make you unhappy, but you are not realizing your full potential in life.

Imagine this instead:

You get up early, jumping out of bed, excited to go to work. You might put in more hours than the average person, but it doesn’t seem difficult to you, because your work hours just zoom right by.

You are often in that state of mind, often referred to as “flow,” where you can lose track of the world and time, losing yourself in the task at hand. Work is not work as many people refer to it, but something that is fun and interesting and exciting. It’s not a “job” but a passion that leads to a fulfilling life.

If you’ve got a job you dislike, or even hate, this will sound like a pipe dream to you. And if you never put in the effort to find what you’re passionate about, such a thing will never be possible.

Advertising

However, if you dare to ask “how do I find my passion,” imagine the possibilities, and actually search for what you love, it is not only a possibility, but a probability.

How do you go about learning how to find your passion in life? Here are some suggestions:

1. Is There Something You Already Love Doing?

Do you have a hobby or something you loved doing as a child, but never considered it as a possibility for a job?

Whether it’s reading comic books, collecting something, or creating or building, there is probably a way you could do it for a living. Open a comic book shop, or create a comic book site online.

If there’s already something you love doing, you’re ahead of the game. Now you just need to research the possibilities of making money from it.

2. Find out What You Spend Hours Reading About

For myself, when I get passionate about something, I’ll read about it for hours on end. I’ll buy books and magazines. I’ll spend days on the Internet finding out more.

There may be a few possibilities here for you, and all of them are possible career paths. Don’t close your mind to these topics. Look into them until you feel your heart is content, and this will help you get started as you learn how to find your passion.

Advertising

3. Brainstorm

If nothing comes to mind right away as you’re asking how to find my passion, get out a sheet of paper and start writing down ideas[1]. This doesn’t need to be an organized list. It can simply be a paper full of random notes or even doodles. All of this will eventually come in handy later.

Look around your house, on your computer, or on your bookshelf for inspiration, and write down whatever comes to mind. There are no bad ideas at this stage.

4. Ask Around

There are likely people you admire in life, and there are things about them that you would like to replicate in yourself. Go to them if possible, and pick their brain. See how they landed where they currently are and whether they feel they’ve discovered their passion.

The more possibilities you find, the more likely your chances of learning how to find your passion in the long run. This may mean that you spend time talking to friends and family, coworkers, or even acquaintances in your free time.

5. Don’t Quit Your Job Just Yet

If you find your calling, your passion, don’t just turn in your resignation tomorrow. It’s best to stay in your job while you’re researching the possibilities.

If you can do your passion as a side job and build up the income for a few months or a year, that’s even better. It gives you a chance to build up some savings (and if you’re going into business for yourself, you’ll need that cash reserve), while practicing the skills you need.

6. Give It a Try First

It’s best to actually test your new idea before jumping into it as a career as you’re wondering how to find your passion. Do it as a hobby or side job at first, so that you can see if it’s really your true calling.

Advertising

You may be passionate about it for a few days, but where the rubber meets the road is whether you’re passionate about it for at least a few months.

If you pass this test, you have probably found it.

7. Do as Much Research as Possible

Know as much about your passion as possible. If this has been a passion for a while, you may have already been doing this. At any rate, do even more research. Read every website possible on the topic, and buy the best books available.

Find other people, either in your area or on the Internet, who do what you want to do for a living, and quiz them about the profession.

How much do they make, and what training and education did they need? What skills are necessary, and how did they get their start? What recommendations do they have?

Often, you’ll find that people are more than willing to give advice.

8. Practice, and Practice, and Practice Some More

If you’re getting close to learning how to find your passion, don’t go into it with amateur skill level. If you want to make money—to be a professional—you need to have professional skills.

Advertising

Get very good at your future career, and you will make money at it. Practice for hours on end and learn how to focus; if it’s something you love, the practice should be something you want to do.

9. Never Quit Trying

It’s possible that you won’t be able to find your passion at first. However, if you give up after a few days, you’re sure to fail. Keep trying, for months on end if necessary, and you’ll find it eventually.

Perhaps you thought you found your passion but discovered several months on that it wasn’t for you. Start over again and find a new passion. There may be more than one passion in your lifetime, so explore all the possibilities.

Have you found your passion but haven’t been successful making a living at it? Keep trying, and try again until you succeed. Success doesn’t come easy, so giving up early is a sure way to fail.

If you need a little help, the Make It Happen Handbook can provide you with a solid action plan to help you turn your passion in your career. Check out the handbook and start to live your passion!

The Bottom Line

Don’t forget that all of this will be a lot of work, but it will be the best investment you’ve ever made. Put in the time to learn how to find your passion, and you will find that your days are more fulfilling and produce more happiness and well-being in the long-term.

More About Finding Passion

Featured photo credit: Dewet Willemse via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next