We grow up- inevitably – with a strong attachment to plan A, that is, an idea of how our lives will go and what we need to achieve our particular set of well-defined goals.

For example, I planned to do four years of statistics degree, then get employed by the Central Bank of Kenya, buy a house and start a family.

Or go to cadets school and train in being an officer and hope to command an army.


For some of us or at one level all of us, life turns out to have made a few other plans.

A poor Grade Point Average in the school puts a certain career forward out of reach. We discover infidelity that puts our wedding plans to rest or we make a small but significant error that changes everything about how crucial others view us.

And so, promptly, we find we have to give up on plan A altogether. The realization can feel devastating. Terrified or sobbing, we wonder how things could have turned out this way. Who could have predicted that the lively little boy or girl we once were would have ended up in such a pitiful situation?

Contingency plans will help

We alternatively rage at the new turn of events. It is for such moments that we should, even when things appear calm and hopeful, consider one of life’s vital skills: that of developing plan B.

After dropping out of university, after realizing my grades were insufficient for attractive career options, I acknowledged the fact that I am not cursed for having to make a plan B.

Plan A’s simply do not work all the time. No one gets life through with all their careful plan as intact. Something unexpected and shocking regularly comes along.

Humans are simply too vulnerable to accidents, too lacking in information, too frail in our capacities to avoid some serious traps that life brings.

Further, my disastrous college life made me realize that I am, despite moments of confusion, capable of developing very decent plan Bs.

I learned a lot about social media marketing and website design using WordPress– which opened several new opportunities in the world.

Influence of Childhood Experience

The reason why many fail to consider plan B in life is that children can’t so easily- and childhood is where we all, after all, came from and continue to be influenced by in ways it hard to recognize.

When children’s plans go wrong, they can’t do much in response: they have to stay in the same school, they can’t divorce their parents, they can’t shift jobs. They are locked in and immobile.

But adults are not at all this way, a glorious fact which we need to refresh our minds and draw comfort from in anxious moments.

We have enormous capacities to act and to adapt. One door may close but there are truly other entrances to try.

We don’t have only one way through this life, even if at times, we cling to a picture of how everything should and must be.

We are profoundly a very adaptable species. I lived in Nairobi for over a decade and moved to Eldoret a few months ago, and surely, I have adapted with ease despite earlier fears.

Parting Shot

It can feel desperate to abandon plan A- until we discover our plan B muscle. In reality, there is a possibility to relocate to another town, to start afresh in a new domain, to find someone else, to navigate around a disastrous event.

There was no one script for us written at our birth, nor does there need to be only one going forward.

It helps, when flexing our plan B muscles, to familiarize ourselves with the lives of many others who had to throw away plan As, and begin anew: the person who thought they’d be married forever, then suddenly they aren’t- and coped; the person who was renowned for doing what they did, then had to start over in a dramatically new field- and found a way.

Amidst these stories, we’re liable to find a few people who will tell us, very sincerely, that there plan B ended up, eventually, superior to their plan A.



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