Stopgap… the Plan Before the Plan


stop·gap / noun: a temporary way of dealing with a problem or satisfying a need

When I first sought out the help of a life coach, I waited till my anxiety was so great that I was experiencing regular stomach aches, trouble sleeping, racing thoughts, and general overall dis-ease.  I was as nervous to seek help, as I was not to.  Why? Because I thought in order to be happy, I would be told that I would need to completely abandon my current career situation, which terrified me.  It turned out, coaches don’t tell you what to do, they listen to you and then repeat back what they are hearing, usually with greater clarity than you can “hear” when you are left to decipher your own internal monologue during times of stress.  It’s also not a coach’s job to push you over the edge, so to speak.  What she “heard” me tell her was that I was craving a stopgap, a simultaneous plan that I could start now, without abandoning my current career.  I needed to know that I was moving forward, without feeling like I was jumping ship.  I wasn’t ready to make the leap, but I craved having a plan in place so that I had somewhere to land when I was ready to jump. I believe my coach called it a ‘parallel track’ that could run alongside my current track, so that when I was ready to get off, I would have somewhere to go.

We don’t always need a stopgap plan.  Sometimes it makes sense to quit our jobs immediately, extricate ourselves from a messy relationship at once, move to a new city right away, ect… but sometimes we need a stopgap.  Sometimes we need a plan to have a plan.

A stopgap plan is helpful when:

  1. The desired change sounds “too big”
  2. We feel immobilized or stuck
  3. We feel desperate
  4. We feel we have few options

Can you recall a time that you had a stopgap plan?  Could you use one right now?

Cheers to you,