Inside: ​The Backup Plan: Here Are The Reasons It’s Important.

Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face”. If you’re not a boxing fan then you might be asking who is Mike Tyson?

Many know Tyson as the funny guy with the tiger in the movie The Hangover. The dude with the face tattoo. But if you’re a fan of boxing then you know there aren’t many fighters in history as devastating or feared as Mike Tyson. If you were facing off against Iron Mike there was a very good chance you’d have tremendous pain inflicted on you. Marvis Frazer, son of Joe Frazier will agree. Marvis was knocked out in 30 seconds by Iron Mike. Michael Spinks went down in 90 seconds and was considered the veteran fighter.  They all had a plan but they got punched in the face.

You may be asking what’s the correlation between Tyson punching an opponent in the face and me? Some people will tell you that a backup plan is useless and a recipe for failure. If you’re making a backup plan you’re already planning on failing.

I disagree. For me, it’s what happens after you get punched in the face that matters most. Regardless of if it’s a situation at work, your relationship at home, or with friends, it’s what you do after that matters the most.


The Backup Plan Here Are The Reasons It's Important


Life has a way of getting in the way

No matter how hard you plan in life there is a chance that something can always go wrong. That’s why you’re told at an early age not to put all your “eggs in one basket” just in case. Dwayne Douglas Johnson was a successful college football player for the Miami Hurricanes winning a national title in 1991. He had dreams of taking his talents to the NFL but his career in college was plagued with injuries and eventually, he was replaced at his position. Luckily Johnson had a backup plan and decided to go into his father’s line of business which just happened to be professional wrestling.

Johnson went on to become one of the most successful wrestlers in history under the name “The Rock”. Yeah, that guy. He has since gone on to star in movies, television, and just about everything else known to man. That was a man who knew how to pivot and come up with a backup plan pretty quickly.

the rock eyebrow GIF


Having a backup plan isn’t a precursor to failure

Setting out to achieve a goal requires you to put forth a plan and follow it to achieve what you desire. If by some chance you see that things aren’t working out you shouldn’t just give up and walk away from the goal. Instead, you should think about your next move or your backup plan, your Plan B for achieving that goal.  I’ve referred to this before as an if-then plan for success.

Chaos and failure are part of life and unavoidable. Anyone who started a business right before the recent COVID-19 pandemic began can testify that life can be a real pain in the ass sometimes. A local restaurant/pizza shop opened by me about 2 months before the pandemic. They were off to a great start and business was starting to boom. Then March rolled around and all restaurants had to close down for inside dining.

For many places, this was a devastating blow and some haven’t recovered to this day.  But Sal and Joe adapted and offered a deal for $50 that included 10 dishes from a fixed menu. They also offered wine with the order and pre-made mixed drinks in mason jars.

This proved to be a real success for them and they were busy every night through the pandemic. They could have thrown in the towel but instead, put together a backup plan that allowed them to keep their business running and keep people employed.

Putting together a plan that has contingencies in place as a backup plan is not focusing on failing. In my mind, it’s setting yourself up to be more successful because you’ll know how to react to the possible hurdles before they arrive.


How to construct a backup plan

There is no written law for constructing a backup plan but I have found these tips to be helpful for me in the past. Do what you feel is necessary for you to make your backup plan.



Think long and hard about your goals

An important part of the goal-setting process is breaking your large goal down into small achievable goals or tasks. We call these SMART goals standing for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Based. The SMART goals are your Plan A and will be your roadmap to results. But as I’ve said, the road to success is always paved with obstacles designed to prevent you from achieving your goal.

In your career, it could be a layoff at your job where as in your personal life it could be a family illness.

Think Winona Ryder GIF by reactionseditor


Identify potential issues

One of the most important areas to consider when you create a backup plan is identifying potential issues. Take an honest look at your Plan A. What are the weaknesses or potential issues you can encounter? Are there weaknesses of the people involved in your plan?

You don’t want to spend your time over-analyzing the situation and suffer “paralysis by analysis“, but you should want to make sure that you have the correct players in place that will help you achieve your plan. Don’t bring someone into the mix who you know is a chronic oversleeper if you’re relying on them to get you to an important meeting on time.


Gus Fring Tech Issue GIF by Better Call Saul


Create Alternatives

Creating an alternative is like planning around future problems. Daily commuting is a continual Plan B. If you’re commuting to work and you see signs of an accident up ahead or roadwork you don’t turn around and go back home. You find an alternate route to get you where you need to go. Now it’s easier to do that today being that your GPS or cell phone does all the work for you but it is a perfect example of a backup plan.

When making your backup plan be cognizant of the potential issues or roadblocks you identified earlier and create ways around them should they arise. Have you ever had a big presentation that you were nervous about? The night before you prepared a slide deck and honed the presentation down to what you feel is perfect. You arrive the next morning at the client’s office ready to deliver the presentation.

They escort you into the office and proceed to apologize and mention that there are no conference rooms available. Are you OK with meeting in the cafeteria? These are words you were not expecting to hear. You start getting warm and wonder if the bead of sweat you feel beginning to well up on your forehead is visible or not. “Sure, no problem”, you say cautiously. If only you’d prepared for such a situation and printed out a few hard copy versions of your presentation so your clients could follow along.


presentation charts GIF


Write down your backup plan, just like you write down your goals

Write down your Plan A but also your Plan B. In a moment of crisis when you are struggling to remember Plan B it’s best when it’s written down somewhere that you can easily refer to. What use is a backup plan if we can’t remember what that backup plan is?

Do what works for you. A post-it note on your desk or computer screen or a note or reminder on your cell phone can do the trick when your flustered and trying to remember what to do next.  Sometimes the backup plan can be as simple as a list of alternate phone numbers you need to call or it can be more in-depth.


working social media GIF by Desus & Mero


Use your backup plan only if you have to

Now I might sound contradictory in saying this but try not to use your backup plan if you don’t have to. Keep the focus on Plan A at all times. It’s Plan A for a reason, it’s your best plan.  Fall back on Plan B only when you have to or to continue your quest toward your goal.

Chicago Bulls Sport GIF by ESPN


The overall goal of your backup plan should not be to replace your original goal, but instead to help you achieve it. What are your thoughts on a backup plan? Do you make one when striving for a goal? Comment below.






  1. College Apps Abroad

    Wish I had read this earlier this year! I got laid off in June due to the coronavirus and have since decided to launch my own business (launched in July, yay!), but it would have been nice to be more prepared. 🙂

    • Scott DeNicola

      Love the site!

  2. Trish Veltman

    Back up plans are vital. Knowing you’re prepared for unexpected eventualities allows you to be flexible, roll with the punches – even those from Mike Tyson!

  3. Britt K

    This is SO important. My Plan A always centered around music. I went to University for Music Performance and for the last few years, I have been teaching private music classes with our local marching band. Recently I even took a promotion and took on the Band Administrator role, overseeing all instructors and the operations of the group. Then COVID struck… While the rest of the world is slowly getting back to work with changes and accommodations, there are some industries that are really struggling. The arts are included in that. I can’t have my whole band or class in a room unless they are all 6 ft apart practicing social distancing or wearing masks. You can’t perform on a wind instrument wearing a mask. Working as an ensemble is nearly impossible at their level of performance that spaced out (it’s all about hearing others and adjusting to the rest of the group). What does that mean for me? I’m not back to work yet and likely won’t be until the new year… I’m SO glad that I had backup plans in place with the business that I had started from home a few years ago. While it was only parttime moving into the current situation, it has made a world of difference as of late.

    • Scott DeNicola

      Great use fo the backup plan Britt!

  4. Lyosha

    Yes! backup plan is important. I wanted to be pro sportswoman and never saw myself out of it. My parent begged me to keep up with school and try learning more. They insisted I would need it when I retire and start training kids. I obeyed and it helped greatly. I got a huge trauma and couldn’t even think of sports not professionally but casually as well. Thanks for being a fine student I just picked up other interest of mine. I think it saved me from mental issues

  5. Kat

    Some really great tips. When I moved to London, I came with no job, no clients and only an Airbnb to stay at. Many might have considered this a risky idea, but it really wasn’t. I had made sure that in case of failure, I was still ok. This included a 6-month financial cushion and also the possibility of moving back home and re-starting if I couldn’t find enough clients in the first 6 months. Luckily, everything worked out and I was able to start a successful teaching business.

  6. Stella

    As someone who has moved with my job internationally several times and left the well paid, cushy job for a lifestyle change and better work-life balance, I am all about backup plans. And I love your tips. It is not expecting the failure, but just not putting all your eggs in one basket. It is a prudent thing to do. And a must-do if you have a family to support. Having said that, sometimes I wish I was brave enough in my younger days to go all in, without thing about a backup option. Although with that we get into the realm of luck, so I won’t go there. Love the examples in your post.

    • Scott DeNicola

      The older I get the less brave I am. 🙂

  7. Erica (The Prepping Wife)

    My motto is “always be ready” meaning having several different plans is ideal. Because you are absolutely correct, life never happens the way we plan it, and adaptability is a huge asset. I always prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Having a backup plan means confidence for me.

    • Scott DeNicola

      I would expect nothing less from you!


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