I’ve recently come to the conclusion that you shouldn’t have a backup plan. Backup plans make it easy to settle. Backup plans allow you to take the easy way out when things get too hard with your original plan.
My mom always said to reach for the stars. She never said, “reach for the stars, but if you don’t make it there, you can always stop at the moon. The moon is good enough.” What would happen if you gave yourself that out?
When I started thinking about colleges, I decided I wanted to go to Columbia University. I had a number of reasons why that was the school for me, and I wanted it more than anything. But it felt silly to apply only to Columbia. People kept talking about having a backup school. I applied for a few state schools as backup, knowing I was an automatic admit. And then something happened, I stopped worrying about whether I would get into Columbia or not. I didn’t keep doing research on how to make my application stand out, I didn’t retake the SAT until I got the best score I could get, I didn’t volunteer all the time or throw myself into understanding everything there was to know about the school. And when it came time for my interview, I didn’t even prepare. My head said, “It doesn’t matter, you still have state schools to fall back on if…” And I believe that’s the mistake.
Don’t have a backup plan. These days, I won’t have one. My goals are the only things I want in life, and I am not willing to create a safety net for myself anymore. Why? Because it’s all or nothing for me. It’s achievement or bust. Everything I do in my life revolves around achieving my one thing. My one thing for my family and my one thing for my craft.
I’m not saying that you should abandon a day job if you need it. Money is important. Have the day job. Make the money. Just make sure that the money you make from that day job isn’t letting you settle. Make sure you’re making the money to lead you to that end goal. Get a job that helps you with your practice. Get a job that requires so little of you so that you can spend more time on your practice. Just don’t make that job your backup plan.