why plan b may not be as terrifying as you or I think (and how to go about actually making it)…

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Hey everyone how are you?

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, or had a look at my about page, you’ll know that I am not only lucky enough to have always known what I want to do as a career, but to also actually be doing it. However, recently, what with the new (old) government in place, and the imminent cuts, which will no doubt be hitting the arts, coupled with the fact that my job is funding dependant, and that funding currently runs out in February… (deep breath to calm myself down)...I’ve had to face the reality, that my dream job is in no way a secure position.

This is something I have always known, but sometimes it is easier to forget than others. When I was waitressing and freelancing, I faced this fact every day. I faced the fact that my main income may never come from doing what I love and at that time I was ok with that. Now that I am lucky enough that all my income comes from the dream, it is a cruel reality to be facing, that soon that may no longer be the case.

This time around it feels even crueller than before. Because now I’m not sure I have the fight in me to go back to waitressing, and justifying my career choice to somebody (often myself) every single day, because I have grown accustomed, to only really having one job, having a regular pay cheque and having time to pay attention to other areas of my life. That’s not to say I am giving up it’s just saying that for the first time in my life I’m prepared to consider a plan b.

Plan b to me seems terrifying, I’ve fought so hard to do what I love, that even considering a plan b feels like a betrayal to myself.  Not only that, but Plan A is all I’ve ever really done, am I even capable of doing anything?

But panicky, idealist feelings aside, I know in my gut, that that just isn’t the case. I know that if I really had to, I could do anything, and that if I brought to it, my passion and creativity, I could even enjoy something other than theatre.

Over the past year in my current job, I have learnt that you get out of a job what you bring to it. On paper any job can feel lifeless. Guess why? Because you’re the one that will breathe life into it.

Sure, breathing life into something is much easier, if you actually want to see that job resuscitated, and of course there are jobs that breathing life into would seem like you were creating some kind of hideous Frankenstien, but in between those two extremes? There are hundreds of plan b’s that really aren’t as bad as you, or I, think.

The difficult part of course, is working out what that list of in between jobs might be. The ones that aren’t perfect but aren’t working in a call centre (that might be your dream, but that is my personal nightmare) and the other dilemma is: should plan b take up so much time, that it only gets further in the way of following the dream?

Here’s how I see it, and plan to… erm… plan plan b.

My CV needs work, doesn’t everyones? Whether I’m going for another dream job, or a back up plan, it needs to be the most up to date, shiniest sparkliest version of the skills I have and why some one should hire me.

So go to your computer and pull up your current cv, then open up a seperate document. In that document cut and paste all the skills from your cv as it currently stands. Try to make these skills sound as broad and as adaptable as possible, don’t tie your skills to a specific job. The idea is to see you for the bundle of talents you are, rather than the job you do.

For example my list might read in it’s broadest terms: creative writing, event organising, time management, project management, creative workshop facilitation, marketing, social media, community engagement, public speaking, youth work…

Once you’ve taken all the skills, you definitely have because they are already on your cv, is there anything else in life you do that isn’t shown in your current job description? For example, if you’re a perfume sales rep it’s very unlikely, that your cv covers the fact that you might also have a blog reviewing restaurants. We all do so much more than we give ourselves credit for. It’s time for that to change.

So then I might add… basic design skills, content creation, sales, diary management…

Now what you should have is a list of your skills in isolation. Read that list. From looking at that list, what are the jobs you COULD do? Yup, make another list. You’ll start with the jobs you’ve already done, the jobs you’ve been going after as part of plan A, and then move on to things that are closely related, but it might also be worth spending some time looking at jobs that are being advertised outside of your field. Does you list of skills match any other job specifications? Put them down too!

What you’ll have now is a list that is FULL of possibilities. Sure some of those possibilities might sound grimm (and those should be striked through – don’t delete them, it’s good to have a base point as a reference for things you won’t do) some of them will sound like the dream. Some of them will be plan A. Move those jobs to the top of the list. And everything else that your left with? That’s Plan B.

So my list might look a little like this:
Theatre programmer (the dream)
Personal Assistant (could be the dream if it was still in the arts or a related field)
Events and hospitality (ok, not the arts, and a bit more corporate, but if I could be creative in it then it wouldn’t be so bad)
Content Writer/Marketing (I’ve never done it before, but I probably could do it)
Sales  (just no)

Personally I think this is a good exercise to do even if you’re not facing plan b, because it will show you not only what the future could hold, but also how far you’ve already come. I also like to keep an eye on the jobs I would like in 5 years time, and compare my list of skills to those job specifications. What you’re doing isn’t giving up, your being realistic and open, and accepting the fact that YOU are capable of so much. Plan B isn’t a get out clause, or sign that you failed, it’s just another possibility to consider.

I am in in no way saying that you should give up on Plan A. I’m certainly not! If you truly want to do something, and are passionate about it with all your heart, then I’m a big believer that that is exactly what you should do. But if like me, you also have to face the reality of bills, or your chances getting slimmer, or maybe actually you have other things in life you want to focus on other than work, then it’s time to also start considering, and applying to Plan B. How about we agree on a compromise? Maybe 1 in every 4 applications could be to plan b?

And if you do end up with one of those Plan B jobs and it doesn’t work out, then remember no job is forever if you don’t want it to be, but every job is a learning experience. Even if all you learn is that that particular career also needs to be striked off your list.

Live life & don’t be too afraid of Plan B x

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4 thoughts on “why plan b may not be as terrifying as you or I think (and how to go about actually making it)…

  1. Great post. I’m in the same position that I always knew what I wanted to do and am doing it, but it wasn’t a direct route into it and I always had plan B, plan C and plan D ready in my mind and I was always ready to refer to them if necessary. Having an up to date skills-based CV is always good to have at all times.

    • Thanks Lisa, glad you liked it! I’ve always had a plan b but on closer inspection it may have been even less realistic than plan a. That’s not to say unachievable, just maybe not the solution to needing a job fast! xx

  2. Wow, I’m in pretty much the exact save situation right now and it’s terrible to have to face the fact that all the work you put into getting to where you want to be might suddenly be for nothing. Damn government funding (well, they’re awesome right now of course, but if I don’t have a permanent job next year…) I’ll be taking your awesome advice, and fingers crossed things work out! (Because going back to retail is just not an option now!)

    • I am so with you Elsie! The idea of going back to waitressing genuinely makes me feel sick now! Luckily I find out about whether we get our second lot of funding in November which at least gives me 3 months should I need it to implement Plan B! xx

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