The Backup Trap

Updated: Nov 12, 2018


It's good to keep your options open!


You should always have atleast 2-3 really good fall back options.


Being successful in making your dream a reality is usually an urban legend. It's good to try,but keep your other options open!


Which of these lines have you heard most often? I've heard students, coachees, parents, and teachers say these things to me hundreds of times, but I always tell them just one thing: It's a trap.


Now you may think I'm being dramatic, but the fact is that most people consider their backup options as careers which are usually completely unrelated to the stream of study they are in. I have seen many an engineer decide to be a musician or open their own restaurant as a 'backup plan', or hotel management students deciding to switch to a design career 'in case things don't work out'.


Choosing a career which has nothing to do with your current field of study shows two things about you: 1) You are clearly not satisfied/ bored with your chosen field, thus choosing to jump ship to something that requires such a different skill set

2) You are underestimating the skills and experience that this 'backup' field requires to succeed in it


So if you are spending time thinking about other careers that draw you, then maybe it is a good time for you to re-assess your current choice, and choose a career that is more in line with your interests. You could even do some research into these backup choices to see if the reality of it is what you expected, and if there could be a possibility of choosing an interdisciplinary career line that combines both your current field of study as well as the passion you have for these backup careers.


Now I am not saying that you should forgo the concept of backups completely. It is definitely good to have a backup, but one that is actually in line with your chosen career.

For example, if you are a Culinary student training to be a Chef, your backup options should be along the lines of any of these careers:

  • Restaurant Manager

  • Food Consultant

  • Food Blogger

  • Sommelier/ Wine Taster

  • Culinary Teacher/ Trainer

  • etc.

Any backup career you choose should plan to make use of the skills you have already developed along your career journey, and should be based on an industry you already know and understand well enough to fit in without much extra effort. If you plan to make the switch from a chef to a mechanical engineer, it is basically starting from scratch, and there is a whole new set of skills, knowledge and work that will go into it. And yes, lots of successful professionals do make career switches to fields that are entirely different from the one they have a base in, but this is not something you should PLAN for. Instead, if you know there is something else you'd be interested to pursue, try and incorporate it into your primary career journey, or into your life in another way.


Spending too much time on your choice of backup, especially one that has nothing to do with your career choice, will take away the precious time you would rather spend enhancing your skills in your primary career line. If you don't make up your mind and keep trying to work on one career while holding on to the backup, you will not be successful in either one, and eventually remain stuck in the #BackupTrap.


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