The Two Great Benefits of Contingency Plans

”One thing that makes it possible to be an optimist is if you have a contingency plan for when all hell breaks loose.” Randy Pausch

The above quote beautifully summarizes why contingency plans are relevant and pertinent for your life. You never can be too sure which obstacles and impediments will obstruct your journey in life. For this reason, it is always a great idea to develop “just-in-case scenarios.”

Personally, I don’t enjoy making detailed long term plans. I don’t have a five-year or a ten-year plan of where I want to be or what I want to be doing at that time. I believe this kind of meticulous planning saps life of the extraordinary and momentary joy and pleasure that occurs. It also makes it more difficult to deal with adversity when your expectations are catered to a specifically outlined outcome.

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With that being stated, it behooves you to take time to manufacture plans for situations that could arise, both ideal and adverse. Contingency plans aren’t meant to convey the belief that terrible circumstances are going to comprise your life; rather they offer assurance that you will be ready when your course takes a turn you may not have been expecting.

Contingency plans prepare you for adversity.

The most general way in which contingency plans are beneficial is that they prepare you for adversity. You are going to encounter adversity one way or another throughout your life. How do you prepare yourself to faceoff with it? Do you deny it is there? Do you try to escape from it?

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The main reason you are able to gain strength from contingency plans is that they force you to realize that life won’t always be smooth sailing. You will confront squalls and inadvertent storms. It sounds simple, but it is not always clear. There is a naiveté that many people put faith into, which convinces them that every situation in life should go their way. These same people believe all situations will serve their own best interests.

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Your life was never intended to be that way. Your perspective ultimately determines how well you handle trying circumstances. Being proactive and readying yourself for these challenging moments instills a sense of peace and calm that others, who don’t buy into the idea of contingency plans, might never experience.

While contingency plans prepare you for difficulties, they by no means create the expectation that your life is going to be a series of unfortunate calamities. On the contrary, they enhance your ability to appreciate and relish your daily life because you are graciously willing and prepared to experience the negative situations and move on from them.

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But how do contingency plans specifically afford you the ability to overcome adversity?

Contingency plans allow you to maintain your mental and emotional health during times of loss.

One of the biggest challenges to anyone who experiences the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, the loss of a relationship, etc. is that they assist you in keeping your emotional health intact, and ultimately, strengthening it as a result of your ability to weather the storm.

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The examples of loss I am describing are the most arduous and demanding to your emotional health. It is no coincidence that many people experiencing these kinds of losses fall into stupors of depression and self-abuse. Preparing yourself for these kinds of situations will enable you to more easily deal with loss.

Again, this doesn’t mean that you enter into relationships or jobs with a negative attitude because you know you will lose them at some point. While it is true that you will lose a job, a loved one, etc. at some point in your life, you don’t have to view it from a tragic and unjust perspective.

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Instead, you can strengthen your emotional health to the point that you understand things could happen in life that you don’t want to happen. Couple this with a contingency plan just in case your relationship doesn’t work out or the job doesn’t last.

I have been very fortunate to witness loss firsthand in my own life. I say very fortunate because I have learned something new about myself in each case I experienced loss, and I have gained strength from it. I have experienced a couple of very difficult breakups. These terminated relationships were quite challenging because in both scenarios, I had placed my faith in the idea that I would be with my partner forever. When that was torn apart, I had a lot of difficulty coping with it. Emotionally, I was unable to handle the breakups in a productive manner.

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I failed to create contingency plans in case the relationship didn’t work out because I didn’t think that would ever be necessary. In a sense, I was emotionally placing my future happiness into this relationship and the other person, rather than investing into my own emotional health.

Maintaining your emotional health doesn’t mean that you don’t grieve or that you don’t feel sad or angry. It means you do so with mindful awareness and comprehension of the emotions that are occurring inside.

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Take time to evaluate your emotional health. Meditate or undertake some kind of mindfulness practice as often as you can, even if it is only for a few minutes. This is especially important for when things are going great in your life. This kind of practice not only opens up your eyes to how precious life is, but it is an excellent contingency practice. It prepares your mind and your emotions for anything that comes your way.

ByMike Oppland

Mike Oppland is a professional basketball player, basketball coach, life coach, teacher, and writer. He currently lives and works in Luxembourg. Mike is co-founder and co-director of xpertcoaching.com along with his twin brother Dan. He loves spending time with his family, friends, girlfriend Vera, and their dog Donald.

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