You know that cheesy motivational saying “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”? Sometimes it’s totally true. Like when you get to the theater five seconds before the new Bridget Jones movie starts and find out it’s opening night, which means you have to sit in the front row. But other times, like when you’re setting goals, it might be better to wing it a little.
That’s because, according to new research, having a plan B could make plan A harder to accomplish. When you come up with a backup, you’re less driven to succeed at the initial goal. Slacking off seems like less of a big deal when you have another option—even if that option isn’t as appealing.
This isn’t license to be frivolous about important life decisions, though. We don’t necessarily recommend quitting your job as a kindergarten teacher to become a multi-platinum-selling rapper. (Well, unless you’re, like, Drake-level.)
Basically, if we’re still talking cheesy motivational sayings, think less “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” and more “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”