The 5 Year/9 Year Plan origins

– FEBRUARY 2, 2015

Back in the summer of 2006, only one year before college graduation, Jill and I departed on a 90 day adventure honeymoon prior to our wedding in Siena, Italy.  We travelled through Spain, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Italy before ending up in Sienna for the grand festivities.  It was a truly life-changing experience that really opened our eyes to how significant of an impact world travel would have on us.  At the end of those 90 days we vowed to do another travel adventure for an even longer timeframe.  This became known as the “5 Year Plan” and we were ready to place it into full effect.

With all of the cock-eyed optimism of a new college graduate we started dreaming of what places we would visit and the interesting people we would meet.  That’s when we started our new path of preparation for the larger travel adventure…but first we had to:

  1. Decide where we want to live.
  2. Apply & interview for jobs there.
  3. Choose the best fit for our work aspirations.
  4. Move there and get started with our careers.

Seems simple enough, doesn’t it?

However, that’s where things started happening that had the “5 Year Plan” path morph into becoming a “9 Year Plan“.  I started working on my first P3 Hospital Project (P3 record 1-0; Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria) and Jill wanted to pursue one of her true passions of Interior Design.  That meant Jill was in line for a few years of school, so no worries because we have 5 years to prep, right?

Then I was part of my second P3 Hospital Project (P3 record 2-0; Fort St John Hospital) and Jill was doing great at Kwantlen University in Richmond.  Things were rolling great for us, we were debt free,  and at this time we still thought the “5 Year Plan” was in full effect.

That’s when another architecture firm came calling and the opportunity to lead P3 Healthcare teams was there for the taking.  I had been out of college for less than 3 years and here was the chance to jump my career light years ahead and be involved in managing a P3 team.  I took the opportunity with full energy and enthusiasm as we put together a great bid to eventually be announced as the winning team for my third P3 Hospital Project (P3 record 3-0; Surrey Memorial Hospital).  Jill was still wrapping up her Interior Design degree, so everything was looking great.

That’s where the plan became extended from our original layout.  Jill needed to get some Interior Design experience on her resume before it made any sense to leave for an extended absence.  I was also right into the management side of the SMH project, so I needed to keep my momentum going as well.  I also hadn’t yet fully established myself in the industry as a top quality P3 expert.

So we kept moving forward with our careers as Jill worked as a junior Interior Designer and I went after my 4th (and most exhausting pursuit) P3 Hospital Project (P3 record 4-0; Interior Heart & Surgical Centre in Kelowna).

We had our careers moving in the right direction, so the “5 Year Plan” momentum lost some steam and started adding years to the plan.  Life crept in to mess with our master plan and the next thing you know it was time to start the pursuit of the next big P3 project.  After managing that pursuit with the least amount of support I had seen to date, we still came out ahead and secured my fifth P3 Hospital Project (P3 record 5-0; BC Children’s & BC Women’s Redevelopment Project – TACC Acute Care Centre).

That had Jill and I then sitting on 8 years total, 3 years after the initial “5 Year Plan” was to be implemented, and it was time to choose between work and life.  Some people will claim you can have both, but we believe that you can’t have both the way we want to experience the world around us.  One day riding the Canada Line to work, I saw an elderly couple with roller suitcases.  They were visibly upset with each other and argued the entire 10 minutes I was on the train.  They argued about taking a trip to Japan as the husband was complaining about his hip and knees hurting…they both clearly were not physically able to do much physical activity on a trip to Japan at this point in their lives.  His wife told him to “get over it“, as she wanted to do this trip many years earlier and his work wouldn’t let them.

It was like looking into a window at our potential future if we weren’t careful.  We could let these projects keep pushing the travel date back because now we’re healthy and able to do physical activities, so what’s the problem with waiting another year…then another year…then another year…etc.  You don’t anticipate how quickly time can pass you by and the next thing you know that elderly couple could have been us.  We were not going to let that happen.

I came home after work that day and told Jill what I had seen on the train that morning.  It was one of those moments where you think you’ve had an epiphany, but your spouse gives you that look that says “you just figured that out now?”.  We had spent 8+ years clearing college debt, being responsible financially to build up a trip savings account, and carefully planning the places to see…yet somehow time crept in on us and if we didn’t act right then we wouldn’t ever do this adventure.  I realized that every time I nailed one of those P3 projects I’ll just be told “good…now go do it again”.  It was time.

I resigned from my architecture job in April 2014 and we were ready to leave in June 2014.  I then had an amazing job opportunity come to me from my client that was truly unbelievable.  I couldn’t pass it up…but then we would be right back on the same divergent path opposite of the travel that we wanted to experience.  Fortunately, my new employer really stepped up and proved how important a work/life balance should be for their employees.  They offered me a 14 month leave of absence if I came on board and helped them reach the Design Development Formal submission stage.  That was truly impressive and it feels amazing to be held in such high regard by a great company.  They made an offer that allowed me to do what I am good at and also to give us the time we needed to have this great adventure.  We reached the Design Development Formal Submission milestone and my last day at work before the leave of absence was January 30th/2015.  We are now touring to visit family/friends before we depart for New Zealand on February 17th/2015.

This has been a long read…but if you held on until the end of this post then let me thank you.  This is how we started off, crafted our “5 Year Plan”…and then ended up here today with our now “9 Year Plan” now in effect.

I urge anyone reading this that you do not need to punch the clock every day under the fear that the industry you work for will pass you by if you take a life break and travel.  Time is the single greatest commodity a person can have.  Do not waste it.

Nobody will ever look back on their life and wish they had spent more time working like a dog to make other people rich.  Live your life and experience what this world has to offer.


3 thoughts on “The 5 Year/9 Year Plan origins

  1. Take care of yourself Kenneth. Employers will always take advantage of the best staff and let the ones dogging it slip by to avoid conflict. Especially mid size arch companies, don’t let them work you to the bone to then toss you aside the moment you’re no longer in their plans. Control your own fate Kenneth.


  2. Well said Kenneth. You are absolutely correct about getting out and doing it now. Fill your senses, every chance that you get


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