The 5-Year Plan, LOL

The 5-Year Plan, LOL


Coaches are all about setting goals, creating your future, being intentional. 5-Year Plans are good things. They represent great intentionality, opportunities for clear strategies and fantastic actions to get you to that 5-year destination. Sometimes though amazing things are hidden in the apparent failure of our best plans. 

Many people have told me lately that my couple of  years need to become a book. That may happen someday but let me give you some highlights. There are some really important principles I've been learning.

Two years ago this month my husband Bill and I moved out of the house we were living in, sold and gave away 95% of our belongings and lined up all of our life to move in with Bill's elderly parents so that they could stay in their home together longer. We wanted to get to the US from Canada and could have moved anywhere but this felt like a great way to transition to the US and and do something kind and caring at the same time.

This was a very emotional time for me. I had lived in New Brunswick, Canada since 1988. My boys live in New Brunswick. My community of friends, my colleagues, my cousin and her family, all were in New Brunswick. (As an Air Force "brat" I finally had roots somewhere, it was very hard to leave.)

It was very hard to let go of things. I didn't know I was attached to stuff but when it was time to let the vast majority of it go I realized how much I was. Letting go became very cleansing spiritually, EVENTUALLY, after the initial pain of separation.

All was going according to plan. A smart plan. A compassionate plan.

Live more simply

 Move to care for Bill's elderly parents for a few years

 Bring my leadership coaching job with me


So, around lunch time on September 6, 2013 Bill and our friend Brent crossed the border, taking turns alternating driving our Harley and Brent's vehicle.

At 4:30 my son and I arrived at the US/Canada border. I felt prepared. I had proof of not needing a job, I had proof that I had ties to Canada still, I had work in Canada in November and proof that I would be returning for that. We wanted to try out the arrangement for a couple months and make sure that everyone was happy with it.

Within a matter of around 10 minutes it became obvious that I was going to be refused entry to the US. After a four-hour interrogation I was offered the options of returning to Canada or waiting in a jail cell in Calais, Maine "Until such time as a judge becomes available to speak with." I chose to return to Canada.

This was NOT the plan. It was not close to the plan. It was the EXACT OPPOSITE of the plan.

I'll save some of the juicy details here for my future book. Suffice it to say we were devastated. I was homeless, husband-less, owned no furniture and also was unable to see my family in the US or visit the US clients that I had worked with for many years.

So, what have I been learning over the past couple of years as my plans have been completely changed "for me".

  1. Don't suppress the emotion that goes with the disappointment/shock
  2. During the freak out be open to the amazing gifts that you wouldn't have had otherwise
  3. Realize that although it wasn't in "the plan" it may be for a very good reason
  4. Sometimes our best 5-year plans are not fantastic enough!

Had things gone well that Fall, 2 years ago, I would have applied for Permanent Resident Status in the US. I would have applied from inside the US and it would have meant that I would not have been allowed to leave the US until my Visa was approved.

In November of 2013 my Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Many times over the next 12 months I visited him, cared for him, had some of the best time with him I have had my whole life. 

In May 2014 I was finally able to join Bill and my in-laws. The list of gifts I received during those very difficult, unplanned 9 months are too numerous to list. 

What are some good things that have come to you through some unexpected, disappointing surprises?

In the middle of some of your current stresses, what are some hidden gifts you can be grateful for?



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