Assume, for a second, you are sailing a state-of-the-art boat in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea on a beautiful, sun-filled day. You are the captain of this fabulous boat as well as the only person onboard. Unfortunately, returning to land is not an option right now; you must continue to sail. You have all the tools you will need for this journey and the boat is amazing. Where will you sail? What will you choose as your strategy so you can maximize your experience during this once-in-a-lifetime adventure? Will you chart a magnificent and well thought-out course or will you decide to simply drift in the sea, aimlessly floating without direction or purpose?
This may seem like a very unlikely scenario for you or me to find ourselves in, but, essentially that is what we have been given with this extraordinary thing we call life. Each of us has been gifted with a fully stocked boatthat is absolutely incredible, yet the course, the strategy, and the direction are all up to us as the captain. We can choose to simply drift aimlessly in our boat, which is absolutely our prerogative, and we will still lead a reasonably good life. Or we can choose to be great—to chart our own course, maximizing what we want to see and do on this blessed journey. We can stay in one port or decide to circumnavigate the globe! The journey and the ports are entirely up to us.
Most of us have decided to unintentionally drift through life for a number of unfortunate reasons: we never take the time to plot the course, we are afraid to sail into unchartered territory, we are fearful of failing in some disastrous or regrettable way, we don’t know how to take the first step to move forward, and, more often than not, we lack the confidence to take the first step. As a result, we anchor ourselves right where we are, comfortable in this old, familiar port — hoping that no move is better than a wrong move.
If we had the privilege of speaking to a seasoned sea captain, what sage advice do you think he would impart on us? I believe it’s safe to assume he would start by telling us that we don’t have to plot the whole trip around the globe right now, although I am sure he’d suggest that we consider charting our course to just the next port. We can do that, right, one port? And I am sure he would mention, based on his vast experience, that sailing will be a lot more fun and rewarding than simply drifting, and certainly more fun than being tied to an anchor! Regardless of what he suggests, the choice still remains with us. We have the ultimate say in what we choose to do with our life—that’s the beauty of free will.
This is certainly not the first time we’ve realized our boat wasn’t moving; we’ve been at this spot in life before. But what if this time is different? What if this time we are actually brave enough to pull up the anchor?
Here are some of the major reasons why we have remained anchored and the actions needed to overcome them:
- Taking the time to plan the course – If we could take back all the time we spent binge-watching Tiger King on Netflix, we would have had all the time we needed and then some.
- Overcoming the fear of uncharted territory – Most vacations are uncharted territory, too, yet we go enthusiastically.
- Overcoming the fear of failure – Is the fear of failure scarier than the fear of finding out 5 years from now that we are stuck in the exact same spot and nothing has changed? I also wonder why we don’t have the fear of success; that would be far more helpful and inspiring.
- How to take the first step – I believe we already know the first step, we just need to be brave and take it. It’s one step, for goodness sake! We’ve taken more risk eating at some fast-food restaurants.
- Mustering up the confidence to start – Think of a time in your life when you were most brave. Now put on that same superhero costume, because you’ve done this before!
Action Steps: What is the next port for you in your life? Is it related to your career, your health, or your relationships? Spend a few minutes charting your course—just to the next port. Don’t get overwhelmed, the task is too simple: plot the course to a port not so far away. Breathe. Dream a little. This is supposed to be fun. The journey is going to be spectacular. I can’t promise that you won’t get lost or that there won’t be any mistakes along the way but I can promise that it will absolutely be better than staying anchored to this one spot. Life is supposed to be joyfully lived, not aimlessly drifted through. It’s time to pull up the anchor and begin to sail. So, come on, let’s go! We got this!