It’s not that you can switch lanes seamlessly when something goes wrong. Life isn’t an airplane. There’s no exact sequence of steps to take under certain conditions so you’ll land safely amidst turbulence.
Have you ever executed a backup plan precisely the way you planned it before you needed it? If not, it’s probably because the scenario you devised it for also didn’t happen just as you imagined. Chances are, you went to your backup plan as an initial source of consolation, but the actual solution to your problem? That likely looked very different from what you thought you might need.
The true benefit of a backup plan is that you don’t blow your lid when your original scheme falls apart. Instead of panicking, you get to keep calm. “Ahh, the backup plan. Thank god I’m prepared!”
In reality, you’re not that well-prepared. You might only be five, maybe ten percent more equipped to handle the crisis than you would be without a next best alternative. The fact that you did prepare at all, however, makes all the difference. You have a place to go to, and even if it’s not the perfect one, it is a place to start from, and in moments of crisis, that’s worth more than gold.
When it comes to failing softly, six sigma is for mass manufacturing, but for our humble little lives, one layer of reinforcements usually does the trick. After all, once you’re back on your feet, you’ll just have to get back to doing what you do best anyway: Think on those very feet, and invent your way forward.