My friend Paul loves to be out on the water. His favourite summer pastime is to sail across Gull Lake in his catamaran enjoying the lush breezes and warm sun.
Paul knows all the nautical terms and happily shared a few with me. One that stuck with me was “tacking.” That means turning the nose of your boat “across the wind,” so you momentarily head directly into the wind as you cross from one side to the other. It’s a manoeuvre used to adjust to changing winds or, more often, to sail upwind.
It’s impossible to sail directly into the wind, of course, but by sailing slightly off course to one side of the wind, then tacking and sailing to the other side of the wind, it’s possible to zigzag your way to an upwind destination. It takes longer than sailing in a straight line, but you reach the destination nonetheless.
It takes experience and good judgment to learn to tack properly. A considerable amount of speed is necessary to execute it. If a vessel doesn’t have enough speed, the wind may overpower the boat’s turn, forcing it back on its previous course or worse yet, the vessel may end up “in irons,” not moving at all.
I was struck by how much our journey through life is like sailing. Sometimes we have favourable winds and can sail freely along in the sunshine without a worry. However, sometimes conditions change when we least expect it, and we find ourselves trying to sail upwind. Lack of awareness or a poor sense of self-worth is like a sailboat with an inexperienced captain and crew. Unable to anticipate the change or respond accordingly, we have difficulty staying on course, often find ourselves in perilous waters, and sometimes end up in irons.
As the saying goes, a sailor can’t do a thing about which way the wind is blowing; all he or she can do is trim the sails properly to make the boat go where we want it.
We can’t stop the winds of change, but we still have a choice. Our choice is how we react to change regardless of where we encounter it. The first step in adjusting your sails is to step out of resistance. Spend your energy finding ways to get back on course, instead of wasting it in the futile effort of fighting the wind. People who weather change the best are always those who learn to accept it, adapt to it, and capitalize on it.
Even the best planning and the most detailed goal-setting regimen seldom results in a “straight line” journey from conception to achievement. Typically, success requires an ongoing series of minor and, at times, major adjustments to complete the journey.
In the same way that a sailor keeps his eyes on the compass while tacking, you must keep sight of your goal while adjusting the course toward your destination.
Small and even significant course adjustments are a natural part of any worthwhile endeavour. Flexibility is the key. The ultimate goal is to reach your destination. Whether you achieve that goal along a relatively straight route or a zigzag pattern is immaterial. What is important is that you learn and grow from the experience.
There is no shame in acknowledging that your choice of destination may be unsuitable or unattainable at present. A course correction can result in a new and more exciting destination. Be open to new and wonderful opportunities just beyond the horizon.
With awareness, we can set our sails to the wind and sail into the life we desire.
Material from (2 May 2011): http://hypnotism.homestead.com/EXTREME_ESTEEM__147_-_Adjust_Your_Sails.pdf