Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
You're a lot more sensible than I am.
You look ahead and plan out the beautiful trajectory of your career.
You know where you want to be in a year's time, in two years' time and in five.
You make contingency plans, though.
You have a Plan B in case Plan A stands for Plan Abominable.
I admire you. I wasn't even competent enough to have a Plan A.
Science, on the other hand, is suddenly looking dimly on your good sense.
New research perpetrated by Jihae Shin of the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Katherine Milkman from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania suggests that having a Plan B may be detrimental to your chances of success.
I know this because the research is entitled How Backup Plans Can Harm Goal Pursuit: The Unexpected Downside Of Being Prepared For Failure.
The researchers confess that having a Plan B makes you feel psychologically more secure.
But, and it's a big but: "We propose that the mere act of thinking through a backup plan can reduce performance on your primary goal by decreasing your desire for goal achievement."
There's that word in which so many believe. You have to want to achieve that goal. You really have to want it.
I've known plenty of people, however, who really wanted it, but -- whether through poor execution or annoyingly bad luck -- got bupkis.
The researchers say they executed three studies.
These were simpler studies involving rewards like free food, rather than a successful career that gave you billions of dollars and oodles of fame.
Research has its limits. One of them is budget.
Shin and Milkman (surely an ad agency name, if ever there was one) do distinguish between work in which effort is the primary driver and work in which skill or fortune matter most.
They say that when effort is the main driver, that's when a Plan B can leech upon your mental energies.
The researchers even posit the notion of outsourcing your backup plan, so that you don't have to think about it.
This only works if you have at least a small organization at your disposal. Or, perhaps, a lover who can keep a secret.
Time for Plan B? OK, darling. Pack Your Bags. I've Bought Us A Hut On Huahine. We're Going To Live As Fisherpeople.
The research does make some emotional sense, though.
Indeed, Shin is living proof. The Washington Post reports that this research came out of the fact that she herself only had a Plan A in her career thinking.
And here is the research proving that if you don't have a Plan B, you can create interesting research.
But think about your own life.
If you're in a relationship and you have a Plan B, doesn't that make you a touch less committed to your relationship?
Doesn't it, in fact, suggest that you don't have a lot of faith in your relationship at all?
I hear, though, a daiquiri-fueled snort from the hedge fund community.
It has made fortunes not merely from a Plan B, but from Plan C, Plan D and let's not forget Plan Z.
You, though, are a touch more genuine.
You dream, you tear up at movies about dreams fulfilled and you read at least three self-help books a week.
It's not as if they make movies about pursuing your Plan B, is it?