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Chance the Rapper will Help YOU Accomplish Your Goals

by Abby Thompson
August 25, 2016 | Our Future

You want to do this thing, right?

Make a business, make art, make a difference—the question is, how do you make it happen? Your over-involved uber-helicopter parents told you to follow your dreams when you were just a five-year-old, so why would they change their advice now?

Which is why (to your surprise) when you mention your brilliant idea over a casual family dinner of how you want to change the world with the app you are developing, give impoverished countries access to clean drinking water or drop out of your small liberal arts college graduate program to make sculptures, they remind you of your potential for failure and that you need a fall back.

“Not because it’s a bad idea Jimmy, it’s just better to be safe than sorry,” your mom coos as she takes another scoop of potatoes.

You tell yourself they don’t understand, but the image of living in your parents’ basement until you are 35 slowly oozes into your mind. Your parent’s faint voice of apparent good reason becomes more appealing, as you do not want to endure crippling failure.

Okay, maybe you’re caving, but maybe having a backup plan isn’t the worst idea ever.

STOP. DROP. ROLL. Where’s the fire you may ask? It’s in your brain, doofus.


Jihae Shin, assistant professor of management and human resources at the Wisconsin School of Business, and Katherine L. Milkman of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, conducted a series of experiments that showed making a backup plan can cause people to work less hard and do less well when it came to achieving their primary goal.

That’s right people, science has spoken and it makes a lot of sense. If you put all of your energy into crafting this fall back plan just in case something goes wrong, you’re ultimately preparing for failure, and it’s going to be a self-fulfilling prophecy—failure will ensue.


Here’s an example: You get yourself some tickets to see Chance the Rapper this weekend and OMG you are pumped. You’ve been listening to the new album since it came out in May; you know all the words to every song. You are ready. Bad news. It’s an outdoor concert, and the forecast isn’t looking so hot. There’s a 50 percent chance for rain. Uh oh.

This is where your backup plan could come into play. You could find something else to do this weekend. Chance will come back another time, right?

Here’s the deal, this is a simple analogy. A little rain is not going to stop you from dancing like a fangirl to Juke Jam—or it better not. A lot of people, however, live their lives avoiding potential failures, even if they don’t know whether or not failure is coming their way.

When it comes to thinking about a long term goal such as starting a business or taking a more risky career path, putting a fall back plan in place seems like good sense. But if you work without a floor beneath you, you’re less likely to let yourself fall.

It is important to be more strategic about when you make a backup plan. “You want to wait until you have done everything you can to achieve your primary goal first,” Shin says.

If you don't achieve your primary goal, maybe you didn't sincerely want to achieve it in the first place. Time to reconsider.

All in all, just because the rain might come, doesn’t mean you should run from it. Like Shin suggests, pack a metaphorical umbrella and a change of clothes, because who knows what could fall into your lap.


Abby Thompson
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