The Perils of Plan B
Right-brainers sometimes feel like square pegs in a world of analysis and due diligence. Until recently, passion and intuition haven’t been particularly valued. You’re zealous about ethnomusicology, Petrarchan sonnets, or encaustic painting? Don’t pursue anything in school — so we’re told — that doesn’t point to reliable income at the other end. We’re taught to be generalists, as if being mediocre at everything is somehow more secure than being really good at what we love. We’re told to play it safe, consider every possibility, and have a solid Plan B.
But as writers like Seth Godin and Daniel Pink observe, the old rules have changed. Thanks to the internet, playing it safe doesn’t cut it anymore. Whether it’s big business, the blogosphere, or the creative world, success is increasingly defined by those who do what they love with singular clarity, and do it well. Given passion and persistence, do we really need to waste so much time fretting over “what if?”
Last year, I moved from the paradigm of “I need to think about it” firmly into “heck, yeah!” — and I’m not looking back. I stopped considering Creativity Coaching Association certification and declared my candidacy. Was this decision based on an analysis of critical risks and return on investment? No. I wanted to do it. I’d find the cash and make the time: it would come together. And it did. I finished my certification within the calendar year and now coach clients. It’s everything I imagined.
In October, I co-led a workshop in life design with Ellen Olson-Brown. We could have fine-tuned our curriculum for months, fussed with our marketing plan, and listened to the inner voices that shouted, “But wait! You don’t have a safety net! This is all going too quickly and you don’t know what you’re doing!” Ignoring those voices, I followed the advice I offer my clients: Trust that you know what you’re doing, even when you don’t know. Our workshop went so well that we’ve opened a brick-and-mortar studio for creativity and life design.
If “what if” is getting in your way, grab what you love, and go for it.
This article was originally published in Creativity Calling, the newsletter of the Creativity Coaching Association. Reprinted by permission.
I love this post Miranda. It immediately reminded me of a conversation I had with my father when, my senior year in high school, I told him what I wanted to major in: marine biology. His response: “What are you going to do? Work at Sea World!?” My response: “Yes! That is exactly what I want to do!” But alas, since he was paying for my college education I had to go with my second choice, Communications. Yet still to this day, seeing dolphins and whales evokes such a strong emotional response in me that I know that’s where I should have gone. Now I’m just thankful that I have spent my entire life right next to the ocean.
Kelly, when I read your post yesterday during Creative Community hours at the studio, I got weepy, which was mildly embarrassing in a room full of people. But it’s simply so sad. Parents mean well — they want us to have viable futures — but the pervasive push toward something “sensible” strikes me as tragic. Why, as a society, as we trained to believe that doing what you love is a terrible idea, unless what you love happens to lead to a dependable desk job or a medical degree? It’s like entire generations were taught to NOT BE THEMSELVES. To be fearful of that self, because listening to one’s intuition and passion could only lead to destitution. So very sad. You would have been an awesome marine biologist. Maybe you can actually work that into your life in the coming years, in some kind of baby steps, if it feels right.
I’m so glad you live by the water. And at the very least, you do have your mermaids.