by Rachel Castillo, MSW
Having a Plan B is the self-care strategy with the most concrete impact for me. I learned about developing a Plan B from Laura Van Dernoot Lipsky (check out http://traumastewardship.com/). Initially, I was skeptical and scared. Who has time to develop Plan B when knee deep in Plan A!? And, social work is a core identity. Pursuing something other than social work? That’s crazy talk…
When did I know I needed Plan B?
But, as I challenged myself to identify who I am besides a social worker and a mom, I started to understand the importance of this strategy. I felt an emerging excitement at the prospect of something more! With a deep breath and a leap of faith (in myself), I embarked on Plan B.
I explored other skills/hobbies/work that would bring me joy. Truly, the world needs more joy. I considered things I had never allowed myself to believe possible. I had occasional hobbies, including photography. But developing Plan B meant going further than just a hobby.
Why invest in Plan B?
Plan B significantly changes the script! Putting energy into Plan B means that each day I continue in social work is a choice--not just something I’m doing because I don’t know what else to do. Plan B opened possibilities and renewed excitement about personal growth.
Yet, I continue to choose social work. And, I find it more enjoyable. Plan B complements Plan A.
Recently, in my work, there have been many heavy situations: child deaths, loss of a co-worker, and the need for “right-sizing” (i.e. lay-offs). These have been incredibly difficult.
However, Plan B has given me a positive, centered focus. Previously, I would be losing sleep and ruminating incessantly. With Plan B, I’m taking time to consider next steps, write blog posts, and read books relevant to my Plan B. I am maintaining an upbeat outlook and have something positive to keep me going.
How do I create a Plan B?
Take time to think about what you like to do. What did you do previously that brought you joy? Dig deep. Do you love (or used to love) playing an instrument? Maybe your Plan B is giving lessons. Love nature? Maybe your Plan B is working at a state park. Love party hosting? Maybe your Plan B is to be a party planner. Identify what makes you feel excited and perhaps like a kid again.
Then, do it! I’m not saying quit your job and start Plan B, with no planning. You may never leave your social work career. Just take steps; enjoy the process.
My Plan B is continually evolving. Launching a blog site, www.socialworkcommunity.com, was a major step. It keeps me engaged in social work and has brought me back to reading about my beloved profession. It provides a creative outlet and an avenue for using my photography.
As part of self-care, develop Plan B. And, if you keep choosing Plan A, you’ll appreciate it even more. Try Plan B! And share your progress with us!
Rachel Castillo, MSW, is a licensed Advanced Practice Social Worker and has been working in the area of child welfare for more than 10 years. She is also the founder of www.socialworkcommunity.com, a website/blog with the goal of creating a positive community for social workers to gather, connect, and inspire one another
For more on self-care, see The A-to-Z Self-Care Handbook for Social Workers and Other Helping Professionals.