This is the time of year when we create our big plans for our lives and businesses, and we set out to follow the plan. But what happens when unexpected events derail your plan?
I had come into 2015 on a high: fresh off my best fourth quarter ever, and feeling energized after a vacation. I was ready to ride the wave of momentum straight through 2015.
Not even two weeks into the year, my plans were derailed when I fainted and fall to the floor in the middle of the night, sustaining a traumatic brain injury.
Everything came to a standstill as I was forced to rest and heal. No screen time. No books. No music. It was hard to be in groups of people. Even thinking was off limits. How do you stop thinking?
My neurologist originally predicted that I would be back on my feet within a few weeks. But my post-concussion syndrome stretched on for months. When your income depends on your ability to show up and enroll clients, and serve those clients, being sidelined for months can produce a fair amount of fear.
On many days I would feel the anxiety flare up. I would start to panic as I wondered if I would ever regain full cognitive function, if I would ever get my attention back, and if I would ever “return to normal” in my functioning.
In the end, 2015 was my best year in my business to that point, surpassing my high from 2014.
More important was where that experience led me.
The Detour that Wasn’t
I knew, even in the moment, that it would be a mistake to think of this as a detour.
Whenever the panic would start to set in, I would return to this wisdom:
Life happens for us, not to us.
I didn’t always know where it would lead me. I had to trust.
Today, three years later, I can see how the seeds planted in that dark period are sprouting into an expansion and redirection of my work, and in the wisdom I’m being called to share with others.
It set the foundation for programs to help other creative and service-driven entrepreneurs create sustainable businesses without self-sacrifice.
Shakeups Happen in All Forms
All of us have faced big moments where the ground seems to open up underneath us. It could be a major illness, the death of a loved one, or something less “final”: a big breakup, getting fired, a business failure.
It doesn’t even have to be something that happens in your personal life. Culturally, we had many of those moments in 2017: political shakeups, an uncovering of decades of sexual abuse, terrorist attacks, attacks from nature, shootings.
When Your Life Plan is Derailed
We will have more this year. This is the nature of life. Things will happen in 2018 that aren’t in your business plan or life plan. Those things may void your plans entirely.
What do you do when that happens?
- A: You can certainly avoid making a plan altogether, although that would be foolish.
- B: You can try to fight it, although that would be a waste of energy.
- C: Make a plan, but don’t cling to it.
Here’s a hint: choose option C.
Remember that you are not in control.
Everything happens for a reason and a purpose, and it serves you. — Tony Robbins
Life happens for you, not to you.
Instead of looking at what hits you as a detour that keeps you from where you were going, perhaps consider it an invitation to a new path to a better place.
Trust where you are being led.
Have you had your life plans derailed by unexpected events? How did you navigate that time? Please share in the comments.