A new course in life; and you are the captain of the ship of yourself.
In an ideal world, you would know where you are, where you have been and where you are going… Odds are, if you are reading this, you may be missing one, two, or all of those aspects of navigating your life.
So, it is perhaps time to set a course and
- Scan the horizon
- Check the compass
- Select a destination
- Align the helm
- Follow the proper course
Sounds like a bunch of things to do at once. But this is the stuff of navigation, the work of the seafarer. The rules are the same in the middle of an ocean or the middle of life. No journey is completed by sitting in one place.
Scan the horizon
“You can observe a lot by just watching.” That is, much can be seen by looking around. You don’t have to be Yogi Berra to realize these truths. At sea, or in the heart, it is wise to see what is around you before you begin moving.
Begin your journey by answering basic questions:
- Who you are
- Where you are
- What do you want to do
- How do you want to do it
- When can you get it done
This little assessment will go along way toward establishing your starting place, your goal and your options towards getting there.
If achieving your goal was easy, you would have already done it. But, reality has lessons. First, obstacles are real and can be dangerous. Whether it is a reef in the sea or an obstruction in your being, evaluate and decide your course.
Human experience is filled with accounts of people overcoming all kinds of obstacles. There are options: we can find ways over, under, through, things we confront. Life teaches us to keep trying.
What do you know about your journey? Is it:
- Easy? Not likely.
- Difficult? Probably.
- Impossible? No.
Check the compass
So, you know what the surroundings look like and may recognise some risks. Before you can get moving, you have to sort out what heading you want to follow. At sea, you would consult a compass. In life, assess your assets and burdens. Weigh the options and determine how to proceed. Your life’s compass may well show you pointed in the wrong direction — perhaps exactly opposite the way toward your goal.
Knowledge is power. There is no value in making a high-speed journey to nowhere. Currents and winds (at sea or in your heart) can be carrying you in the wrong direction. Make the necessary turns and corrections. Keep a watch on the horizon and the compass as you turn things in the right direction.
Sailing and living require attention and focus. It is wise to get out of your own mind and into touch with the task, the life that you are guiding.
Let’s entertain an example. Say we are navigating through the waters of business. Katie Horner at bloggingsuccessfully.com has a fantastic piece about really improving your chances for success by eliminating one single word from your vocabulary. Just be getting out of your own head; out of the “I” focus, you can make a big change for the better.
In our example, toss dead weight overboard, get in ship-shape, and prepare yourself for success.
Select the destination
In typical experience, we decide where we want to go before we set out. Unfortunately, life does not always conform to the typical. We should be able to adjust, change, and refine our destinations, aspirations, and goals on the fly. Opportunities can suddenly appear. Challenges also can come from nowhere.
Bull-headed, single-minded thinking can be useful in some setting. On the other hand, it can be disastrous in others. Maturity, wisdom, and prudence should be constant companions as we adapt and adjust to the changing landscapes we encounter.
Navigation charts help the sailor find safe paths, avoid risks and watch for landmarks and dangers. At this stage, we must keep our lookout, consult our guidance, track our targets and maintain ourselves in a worthy trim. These tasks should be continuous and nearly instinctive for us to succeed.
Regardless of need, there are guides, maps, authorities, examples, and countless other tools to help us follow the correct course. All manner of writings and teachings exist to help us. People of faith enjoy special benefits of scripture, mentoring, leadership, and other guidance to help us find our way. Discipline, ethical behavior, prudence, sound judgment, and realistic actions will help guarantee success.
Arrive and anchor
After a successful journey, the arrival is almost and anti-climax. The adventure fades, the excitement calms. The expedition ends.
You followed a compass across trackless seas. Unseen perils have been left behind. The risks have vanished. The security of a strong mooring replaces uncertainty. The peace and safety of being on firm ground erases the sailors’ fears. The sea has been overcome and has given way to the promise of a safe shore where anchors are never needed and shifting winds are of no matter.
The next crossing
You have captained another successful voyage. What will be next? Will you embrace the security and safety of dry land? Will you put away the compass and charts? Will you call your travels done?
Or will you return to the sea? Will you feel the call for another journey; one beyond the sight of land; one into the great unknown?
Whether it is across an ocean or into a new chapter of life, the journey is much the same. There are unknowns, shipwrecks, broken masts, and leaky bilges. It may be the life of the journey; or, the journey of the life. It is part of the human experience.
We, everyone one of us, must make those journeys. We may have a sturdy ship and crew that makes the voyage go well. However, we just as well can have an unsteady vessel or a crew that is untrained and without discipline. Moreover, we may well find ourselves alone in a tiny craft that can barely stand a breeze.
Anything is possible. What will be your decision? Will you prepare and gather the skills and tools for a voyage; or, will you rush into the midst of a storm with no ideas, no rescue, and no hope?