Last fall was very exciting for my running partner and I, as we finished a marathon with PR’s and qualifying times for Boston. After getting “beat up” at Boston last year, I was excited to go back, this time a little wiser and more prepared. I had plans to register the very first day (as opposed to the second or third week, as I had last year) because rumors hinted that Boston would fill fast. Accordingly, I went online Day 1 at 6:00 p.m. only to see a very disturbing message: “Registration is closed for the 2011 Boston Marathon.” At first, I was in a state of disbelief. How could this happen? How could my dreams of Boston be shattered, just like that? Then, I was mad. What a rip off! I qualified, can’t they let more runners in? Come on! Finally, I got over it (because really, what could I do?) and chalked it up to one of those things that was “not meant to be” (maybe I’d sprain an ankle at the baggage claim in Boston and never run it anyway).
With the big gig out of the question, my friend and I tried to find a spring marathon that would work with our schedules. With each marathon we considered and turned down (Did my friend really have to go to her son’s First Communion that was on the same day as the Green Bay Marathon?), I got more frustrated. Then, finally, we found “The Wautoma Jailbreak Marathon.” It fit perfectly in our schedules AND happened to be a mile from my parent’s cottage. A place to stay, familiar roads, and the fact that it was a Saturday marathon vs. Sunday all made me feel just a bit better about missing Boston. Best of all, at press time, the race website roster showed a whopping 30 participants, with none of them being Kenyans. I could win! 🙂
So, while this race previously had no spot on my “marathon bucket list,” I am now officially excited about it.
This situation isn’t all that uncommon either. How many times do we have our sights set on something, some great thing that we can’t imagine not having… only to have it taken away, changed, or deemed impossible. Or, how often do we have a great thing going (whether it be a relationship, job, routine) only to have something come in and shake things up to the point of complete chaos? It is because of these situations that we find ourselves resorting to “Plan B,” which many times turns out to be just what we needed in the first place.
As a teacher, I am well familiar with Plan B – it’s been a hot topic in teachers’ lounges across the state as budget cuts have placed many jobs at risk. A discussion last week at my school was especially notable. Several teachers were talking about their “Plan B’s”- one talked of nursing school, another of e-commerce, another of launching a writing career. The thing of it was, none of these people sounded stressed when discussing their alternate plans. In fact, each had sparks in their eyes and excitement in their voices as they relayed what they “would do” if the “worst case scenario” happened. And, while ultimately I know these teachers did not want to get fired, the conversation that took place raised an important question: At what point do we decide we’re going for Plan B without waiting for fate to take over? How many times does fear of the unknown or just plain fear in general prevent us from doing what we truly love?
The problem lies in the fact that there is a huge gap between a forced Plan B and voluntary Plan B. The voluntary plan is laced with fears of failure, the unknown, and losing something good for a “what if.”
But, if we really think of it, all of those things can happen with our “Plan A’s” too, hence leading to the enactment of the forced Plan B.
When you look at it that way, it’s clear that we really have no idea when or how any of our plans are going to be foiled. Consequently, perhaps what we need to remember is that while we lack the ability to control many outcomes, we do have control over making changes on our own. Small changes. Big changes. Risky changes. Any changes that are based on the dreams and desires that belong exclusively to each one of us.
Wouldn’t it be better then, to take action now on all of the Plan B’s that fall on our “real life” bucket lists? After all, if we do fail, we know that there is always another plan waiting for us. And in the end, isn’t it better to go for it, rather than never risk anything at all, and get a message like: “Registration for Plan B is closed. You never went for it.”
by Abbey Algiers