On Having a Plan B

It is quintessential to western culture, that we admire entrepreneurs and innovators. Luckily, this is the case, as these individuals are the engines that “makes our world go round”.

It is no secret either, that starting a business adventure does come with a great amount of risk. As the Nobel-prize winning scientist Daniel Kahneman once pointed out, if it wasn’t for our inherent tendency to be biased towards optimismour economy would crash, since the chances of failing as an entrepreneur in general, are staggeringly high.

So what? Are all entrepreneurs fools for taking the chance?

Of course not. But very few ever constructs a plan B, in case their plan A ends up failing.

You see, I think because we congratulate risk takers so much in our society, having a plan B is looked down upon to a very great extent.

Having a plan B, is indicative to many, that you are not truly serious about your business idea, or that you don’t really believe in it. This is absurd, considering half of all businesses fails within the first 5 years (1). In my opinion, any reasonable person should, at least, think about how to move on with life, in case his business doesn’t survive.

I think it is ultra important that we get passed this notion, that having a plan B equals a lack of will/belief/motivation, and I’ll explain why.



Why a plan B is important

For how long can you stick to plan A?

Here is another fallacy, that we often fall prey to; “perseverance is the main driver for success”. We have all heard the story about the gritty entrepreneur who faced a mountain of challenges, stuck to his business plan, persevered and succeeded in the end. Then we conclude that perseverance was the ultimate key to his fortune.

Why is this a cognitive bias? Because OF COURSE you must stick to a plan for some time for it to work, but you will never read any inspirational articles or books about stubborn entrepreneurs who stuck to their plans for way too long and crashed, and so you are only presented with one side of the coin – the bright side.

It surely does require some amount of perseverance to become a successful entrepreneur, but once you’ve got a plan B, you’ll know exactly how much you have to give.

Once you have formulated your optimal plan A, and come up with a suitable plan B, it becomes obvious that you should keep chipping away at plan A, for as long as you want to, as long as you can keep plan B open as a viable option.

Imagine you want to open your own bank (plan A), and have a backup job at your local supermarket set up in case it fails (plan B). That means, you may put yourself into as much debt, and financial risk as you want to, as long as the supermarket job can still sustain you afterward, in case everything fails.

Said in more succinct terms: a plan B allows you to know, how far you are able to go with plan A.


More people could become entrepreneurs.

One of the more sad side effects of our aversion to having a plan B, is that it may prevent cautiously inclined people from becoming business owners.

If we trick people into believing, that failure is certain for those who contemplate formulating a backup plan, many will convince themselves that the entrepreneurial world isn’t for them, and they will instead stay put in their more comfortable position.

The takeaway message: congratulate people for having a plan B. Even formulate one yourself to learn about the durability of your plan A.

Hacking full time job fatigue

This is a feeling you might know, if you work a full time job:

Day in and day out, you dream about one day getting free – maybe by starting your own business. You have tons of ideas, you could start working on today, but it is really hard finding the time and, most importantly, the energy to do something, when you get home from work.

When the 8 – 10 hours of work are over, you feel beat, and just want to go home, turn off your brain and not think about anything that’s remotely demanding.

I certainly feel like that many days of the week.

It is terrible, because I constantly tell myself I will get out of the pay-check nightmare soon enough, but how is that going to happen, if I am not able to move forward outside of my normal job? Fortunately, I also have some days of my week, where I do feel capable of going home, and getting something done.

Some months ago, I therefore decided to find out, what it exactly is, I do right on those days where I have enough energy. That way, I could replicate it and maximize my productivity outside of work.

So I initiated this grant self experiment.



I determined, how I was going to measure this.

I decided to ask myself every day, when I was done with work: “On a scale from 1 to 10, how likely are you to go home and read a book, provided you don’t have anything else to do?”.

I thought that would tell me something about, how mentally fresh I felt.

Every day, this number between 1 to 10, was recorded in an excel sheet.

I ended up calling this measurement my “Level of Mental Clarity” or LMC, and this was what I wanted to hack. (It would be the “Y” in my graphs -> the thing that goes up or down, depending on “X”)



I thought really hard about, which factors might be influencing my LMC?

“Which Xs might be involved in making my “Y” (LMC) go up or down?”

I came up the following list of things I decided to track as well:

  • Sleep
  • Hours of standing at work, as opposed to sitting
  • Smart drugs taken,
  • Tea/Coffee consumption in the afternoon
  • Other relevant nutritional supplements

I recorded all this data for 30 days, and underneath are some of the few lessons I learned. The experiment was extremely simple, and it didn’t cost me anything. You can therefore just as easily make a similar experiment yourself, and find out what keeps your energy levels up all day.


Lesson #1 Mondays suck

Different levels of energy on different weekdays

The first correlation I was able to make, after collecting all the data, was between weekdays and LMC. I calculated my average LMC level for each day in the week, and found that I hate mondays, just as much as Garfield. I tend to lighten up again and accept the fact, that the week has started on tuesdays, and then I slowly decline from there.

This is actually valuable information to me. Now I know, I should always book important appointments after work on tuesdays, and stay away from booking anything on mondays and fridays in the future.


Lesson #2 Sleep = very important

Level og mental energy and sleep

Just like you would expect: there seems to be a correlation between how well I sleep during the night, and how fresh I feel mentally in the afternoon.

All of the blue dots are data points, and the black line is the tendency line, that indicates there is a positive correlation.

I often times get up really early in the morning to have more productive hours, but that doesn’t really help, if it wrecks my whole day.


Lesson #3 Stand up at work (& plan your self experiment)

Getting energy from standing

Here is a valuable lesson I learned from doing this experiment: always make a detailed plan for your self experiment. Let me explain.

In the beginning of this experiment, I simply thought I could record, how many hours I was standing up during a particular work day, and then correlate it to my LMC later.

But there is a major problem with me just standing up, however much I feel like on any given day. This is because, I was probably standing up more on the days where I felt fresher anyway. That means, me standing up a lot, could be indicative of me having slept very good the night before.

I found a positive correlation as shown in the graph above, but I am not sure, that tells me much.

What I should have done instead, was to plan, how much I was going to stand each day, so I could see, if I would be able to manipulate the LMC with more or less standing.


Lesson #4 Supplementing with Q10 may work

Supplementing with Q10 for energy

I started supplementing with Co enzyme Q10 halfway into the experiment. I thought it might be able to enhance my LMC score, as it is a compound involved in the Krep Cycle or creation of energy/ATP in the human body.

The diagram above shows, that there may be a chance that it helped me, but this could also be a mere coincidence or placebo effect. The effect is not profound, and my score could have gotten higher, as a byproduct of me being more aware of all this stuff.


Lesson #5 Smart drugs are not a help in the afternoon

Smartdrugs and energy in the afternoon

Here is something I was really looking forward to do, while collecting the data for the experiment: Sorting my LMC column by the highest value

That way, I would be able to see my top 5 days, and then analyse what I exactly did.


It is no secret to readers of my blog, that I am a big proponent of smart drugs, and during this experiment, I approximately took something every third day. I took AlphaBRAIN, Ciltep & Bulletproof GABA.

I always take my smart drugs in the morning with the rest of my supplements, but according to the data shown above, it seems like I burn out later in the day because of it. Smart drugs give a nice burst in the morning, but when I am in for a very long day at work, I might be better off not taking them at all. Or at least take, them in the afternoon, so they can help me on my own time.


To summarize, here are the five lessons I have learned from doing this experiment:


  • It is not optimal for me, to schedule important appointments on mondays and fridays after work.
  • Sleep should be a priority – no surprise there
  • Standing a lot at work is probably a good idea, but so is making a strict plan for a self experiment(!)
  • Supplementing with Co enzyme Q10 might work, but it is not profound
  • Smart drugs should be taken right before a high performance event. They do not enhance focus for hours and hours.



And that is about it!

Please let me know, if you have any questions about the experiment underneath, and I will gladly provide you with further details.

Thanks for reading guys!

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