When Things Don't Go to Plan...

Here I am giving all of these tips and suggestions when I know that life often has a mind of its own when it comes to things going exactly as scheduled.

When my husband and I were on an 11-month working holiday trip back in 2008/2009, we had spent a few days on Tioman Island in Malaysia and had planned to catch the ferry to head back to the mainland. We woke up, had our breakfast with the casually racist cook at the hotel (we could never quite tell if his anti-white comments were jokes or not...) and packed our bags. The island is quite small but we still had about a 15 minute walk to the dock.

As we were winding up the last bits of our gear, we heard a ferry horn blasting.

That's odd, we thought, maybe it was just declaring its arrival?

So, off we trotted, big backpacks brimming with our lives on the road and once we got close enough to see the dock we could also see the ferry - heading on its merry way!

Even if we wanted to run in the humidity, we just wouldn't have made it. Apparently it decided to come and go about 45 minutes early that day. Wait, what? I thought ferries in foreign countries ALWAYS ran on time.

So, there we stood, waiting on the dock, watching a ferry that was clearly heading in the wrong direction. As a crowd gathered - all of those who were on time for the scheduled departure - we considered our options. Another night on the island wasn't the worst thing and we didn't have set plans that were going to be interrupted but we were keen to keep moving.

Lucky for us, there was another traveler who raised enough of a stink that he managed to have the person at the ticket booth radio the boat to return! I think he paid enough money. In any case, it worked out ok for us.

How does this have any lessons for everyday life when you do have other plans and things are interrupted when the ferry leaves early? Well it brings up a few things you can do when shit hits the plan.

  1. Stay calm and ask yourself, "What is the worst thing that this interruption is going to cause? Will I still be feeling the repercussions of this in a day, a week, a month?" Usually the worst is a re-booked appointment, a cancellation fee, or possibly a missed opportunity. In most cases, the consequence is inflated only by your mind. People can be more understanding than you think so if you have to cancel, often it actually won't hurt a thing.
  2. Think of the best way to rearrange what MUST happen and make those changes. Focus on what you can do, don't dwell on what's out of your control.
  3. Move on. Maybe the change or cancellation or delay has given you a bit of time to yourself? Maybe it actually cleared up some time to read or do work on that project that always comes last otherwise. Change your perspective and stop stressing over it.

Above all else, remember to practice kindness whether the change in plans was your fault or not. So be nice to yourself or be nice to the bus driver who is running behind.

In the scheme of things, most unanticipated changes to plans are soon forgotten.

And yes, the photo at the top is the actual dock where we missed the boat!