Smart people have been advising artists, musicians, dancers, actors, etc. to be smart and have a back up plan "incase that whole music thing doesn't work out." And I don't necessarily disagree. It's never a bad idea to have a Plan B. I mean, I have a Plan B incase the grocery store doesn't carry my brand of cookies! It is my opinion, however, that you do not require a Plan B if you just have a better Plan A.
So, why make a better Plan A instead of having a back up plan? I can think of two good reasons. First, as artists, people are always going to knock us down, say we're not good enough or that we need a back up plan because there is no way we're going to make it. I think by having a backup plan, we are sort of setting ourselves up to fail. Sometimes having a backup plan puts the idea in our minds that our dreams won't happen. We owe it to ourselves to follow our dreams. Remember, you must have a job. You must work to make money and to support yourself. Don't you want to do a job you love? Second, you don't want to fail at pursuing your dreams because you didn't come up with a good enough plan.
How do we make a better Plan A? Great question! The first step, and this is the most important one, is to aknowledge that your plan has, and needs, evolution. Your goals will change and your plans will vary. Evolving Plan A does not mean you failed; it means the plan is progressing to fit you. The second step is to write down your dream jobs. These are the shoot for the moon type dreams. You want to be a rock star? On Broadway? In Nashville? Write them down. Next, write down a list of things you can't live without doing; the things you need to do everyday to survive mentally and emotionally in your job. For example, I like performing, but I can live without it. I NEED to sing everyday. I NEED to teach everyday. Step three, write down a list of jobs that could take the place of your dream job. Example: maybe your dream job is to perform at the Metropolitan Opera but in it's place you could perform at the Kansas City Lyric Opera instead. Next, write down a list of jobs you would be willing to do, that are not necessarily related to your dream job, but will support you financially. This is not a Plan B. This is just a way to support Plan A financially until you reach your dream job.
Great, now make yourself a plan that will help you succeed. A bad Plan A would be: Graduate High School, move to New York, get discovered, become famous. You will fail at that plan. A better Plan A looks more like: junior year of high school-apply to 5 colleges in New York, audition and get accepted into at least 1 college in New York, while in college I will get an education, audition, and work at Barnes and Noble, after college I will continue on the audition circuit for 5 years.....etc. Be specific and lay out a firm ground work that includes education, training, and financial support. And don't be afraid to make changes to this plan, or to let the plan evolve.
Having a back up plan is not a bad thing, but do not let that deter you from following your dreams. Remember, no one is going to keep your dreams alive for you. So if you want to be on stage rather than behind a desk, don't be afraid. Just make a great Plan A and you won't need a Plan B.