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Embracing the Unexpected: How unplanned detours lead to even greater success

Have you ever been so fixated on a goal that any deviation feels like failure? Sometimes, the path we plan toward success isn't the one we end up taking. Life throws curveballs, obstacles pop up, and circumstances change. But here's the beauty of it: adjusting your goal or how you reach it can often lead to even better outcomes. This is true in work and play. Maybe you expected to land a specific client or new agent if you spent X months training with a new coach. Maybe you thought you'd hit a certain income level after so many months or years. Often, that roadmap isn't accurate at all. By being flexible and open to change, you might find new, exciting ways to achieve your dreams—ways that enrich the journey and lead to even greater rewards. One prime example of this was my recent run at a lifelong goal and one HUGE "booth break" to reinvigorate the spirit, setting out on a quest to see the Northern Lights.

Charting the Course

As we all know, diligent research and careful planning definitely help lay a strong foundation for achieving goals. So I spent weeks researching places you're most likely to see them — all of them way up in the Arctic Circle. After much consideration, I booked flights to Norway. With cameras, tripods, and endless warm layers packed, my family set off to Tromso. But, ugh, no matter how much time you spend on your plan, nothing can predict the weather that far out. And Mother Nature definitely made things difficult. We had gusting winds, heavy clouds, and snow in the forecast all week—not good when trying to see dancing lights in the sky.

My husband described the short walk to our rental car as "walking to Antarctica," this is from someone who is used to and loves snow.

We'd wake to scan the sky throughout the night. This was 2 a.m. on our first night.

ThE storm didn't stop us from falling in love with Norway

Despite the weather, we loved Norway: amazing fjords along winding roads where reindeer crossing, not traffic, cause you to slow; reindeer meat on every menu - whether at a hotdog stand or fine dining; school kids skiing home at the end of the day; poma lift ski runs nestled between neighborhood streets; and cold sea plunges and saunas in jaw-dropping locations. We even received avalanche alerts on our phones the same way you'd get an Amber alert back home. It was fascinating and beautiful and rugged and raw. But always cloudy with no chance of lights... until our very last day.

One Last Chance

Our flight out of Tromso was a couple of hours after sunset. As I walked across the tarmac to climb the stairs to our plane, other passengers stopped with their phones pointed skyward.

Northern lights outside plane window, professional voice actor Shelley Baldiga

"Do you see them?" I asked excitedly. Yes! Faint, flickering flashes, not bright green or easy to see among the city and runway lights, but there. And an hour later during our flight, a green glow just outside my window. "Is that it?" I asked my son. "Yes!" I snapped a couple of shots—again, not glamorous, waving streaks, but the elusive green lady nonetheless.

Professional voice actor Shelley Baldiga in Norway with family

Even though we failed to see what we had expected, by accepting the setbacks and embracing the detours, we gained even more than originally planned. I experienced things I never even knew I wanted to try, had a break from the mundane and mandatory, and came back refreshed, with a natural energy to enliven voiceover reads when back in the booth.

And then, when I LEAST expected it, the big prize came one month later....

Northern Lights outside professional voice actor Shelley Baldiga's home.
Northern lights from my backyard. Idaho, May 2024

A geomagnetic storm surprised the globe and Mother Nature put on a spectacular show stretching far to the south. A new route to success! My original goal was achieved just outside my backdoor!

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