The Backup Plan

Haven’t blogged in a while, and I need to find a way to procrastinate. This came to mind a long time back but the thoughts are clear in my head, so now would be a good time to put them down on digital paper. Consider this:


When we think of the idea of a backup plan, or plan B (in case of two plans, maybe the B is for “backup”?), we think of some sort of some counter measure that will help solve our problem, or reach our goal, in case our first action, plan A, fails. Of course what we really would like is that our first idea, plan A, succeeds. But of course to cover as many bases as we can, we account for possibilities that our plan A fails in which we come up with subsequent strategies that will ensure our goal is met. This is generally smart thinking. If our first plan will potentially fail to some contingent event in the future, then we’ll think one step ahead and see how we can work around such a contingent event. I don’t think I need to go too far into the matter. We do this for many things in our daily lives; like travelling to other places, organising social events, timetable preferences, university selection, etc.


However, what I propose is that our plan B doesn’t serve that purpose on most occasions. As we get smarter and wiser by learning from experience, we tend to come up with plan A’s that normally have a high rate of success. On most days, CityRail will get you to your destination. For socials, we’ll pick days where we’re quite certain that it won’t rain. And for high school youth, they normally can guess their ATAR and put the course they think they can get into as first preference. But even so, we all still have our plan B in case things go wrong. It’s like some sort of insurance; but on that note, since I do Actuarial Studies, life insurance really isn’t really worth it until at late ages when you know you’re more prone to dying than your average chance of  “whoops I got run over by a car” death. So in terms of life insurance, if you call that your plan B, you won’t really need it. It rarely comes into “play” and what you lose in exchange of coming up with a plan B is just the time and energy to think through all the “what ifs”.


What I propose is that our plan B’s, since we always come up with them anyway, serve rather as our reassurance if things go wrong, but our expectations is that our plan A will be just fine. What I think is that we’re relatively confident that our plan A will work out fine, but since we’re always going to have some sort of paranoia and fear that things will turn for the worse, our plan B will help us to not feel unconfident. Using an army as an example (whatever the era), as a foot soldier you feel confident knowing that your commander or general is there behind you, but you won’t expect him to have to charge into battle. What’s worse, if you lose your general, your “failsafe” plan B, then you lose a lot of confidence, because now you have no backup plan.


So maybe, we come up with backup plans for the sake of having them, and the psychological comfort it gives us. But in reality, we normally don’t expect to use it, and more often than not we don’t end up having to either. But it’s interesting that we sometimes don’t feel secure without them. Anyway just my two cents.


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