Posted: 11th October 2015 | Written by: Alison Rentoul
In my previous two articles in this series I’ve helped you look at where you’ve come from and where you want to end up – as well as where you now think you ought to be, in terms of surroundings, scenarios and people that can help you create the life and career you really want. In my final article in this series we will look at how to bring all this together to decide what your best direction should be, what to take with you along the journey and how to create a roadmap to get you there.
First, I’m going to share with you a really well kept secret. You know that expression “Life wasn’t meant to be easy”? Well, guess what – it’s NOT TRUE! This is an outdated concept that really doesn’t serve us in the modern world. All this belief does is teach us to settle for less than we want and need, which is what keeps so many people slaving away in dead end jobs for years on end, without ever daring to dream or challenge the status quo. Many people are trapped by this belief for their entire lives, never stopping to question why, or daring to uproot themselves and find more nourishing ground in which to thrive.
So the secret is: Life IS meant to be easy, and when you’re doing what you like doing AND what you’re good at, it IS! When you find the place where these two things overlap, you get into what is known as a state of ‘flow’: a kind of ultimate productivity, where you thrive – not just because you love what you’re doing - but because you are great at it, which means other people love that you’re doing it too.
In other words, you are serving your true purpose in life – operating at your highest potential and fulfilling the very reason you exist. I know, right? BIG stuff. But this truth is as simple as it is enlightening.
We spend so much time trying to figure out what we’re really meant to be doing with our lives – and the answer is right there under our noses! All we need to know is what we love doing, and what we are great at – and then – do that! Alright, so let’s DO this! You already have one half of the equation, since you worked out in the previous articles what you really like doing – so now we need to just figure out what you are really good at.
Sounds great right – but how do we do this? The answer is, by identifying your core strengths. Core strengths are the skills you already possess, both natural and acquired, that make you so uniquely awesome at what you truly do best. We often tend to ignore or downplay our personal gifts, if we see them at all, purely because they come so easily to us that we find it hard to imagine someone else could actually find them difficult – so here are some questions to help you pinpoint your own hidden strengths.
What do you find so easy that you can do it virtually standing on your head, yet other people are always amazed?
What aspects of your abilities are you frequently complimented on?
What are you doing when you are so far inside your comfort zone you could almost be asleep, or that you can do with your eyes closed?
Write down everything you can think of in answer to these questions, no matter how silly or easy you think they are.
Now put yourself in other peoples’ shoes. If you asked five of your closest friends, colleagues or family what your top five strengths are, what would they say? (They are allowed to overlap or be repeated). Note all your answers down and see if you can spot what these and the skills you already identified above have in common with each other. And finally, compare this list with the list you already made of things you really like doing. For many people this is a mega light bulb moment, but if not, take all this in and then read back over your rocking chair vision. Where do all these things overlap?
The ultimate combination of doing what you love doing, in your ideal environment, while utilising your core strengths and natural abilities, all magically creates a path of least resistance, leading to the life you really want. So in terms of getting out of yachting, this means finding the closest possible career match that combines everything above, and then going for it!
Sound too easy? OK, I know – maybe it’s a little more complex than this. You do still have to make that transition from what you are doing now to what you want to be doing – and for many people that seems an impossible gap to bridge – but it’s really not as difficult as it seems, and in fact often the biggest obstacles stopping us from making this move are not external – they are within ourselves.
To see what I mean, let’s think of life as the journey it is. Imagine you get to choose what to take with you on this long journey. The more you carry, the heavier your load and the slower your progress will be. So everything you pack needs to earn its place in your luggage – it must be useful and serve some kind of purpose in order to be a valuable and viable accessory.
If you think you might have some excess baggage, maybe it’s time to do a quick stocktake and have a closer look at what you are carrying with you right now. Many of us are familiar with the term ‘baggage’ to describe various hang-ups, concerns and worries that we carry with us. The more of this kind of baggage we are lugging around with us, the less room we have to pack other more useful things to take with us on our journey!
Are there some negative thoughts, self doubts, personal criticisms, old hurts, fears and anxieties that are currently weighing you down and preventing you from moving forward at the pace you really want to go? If so, what’s making you hold onto them? Is it just because you never thought about letting them go before? What would happen if you just decided to stop, put them down, and walk on – leaving them all behind? It’s a wonderfully liberating idea, isn’t it!
And if you did let go of all this excess baggage, what could you replace it with, that would be far more useful on your journey? The answer is, your very own suite of personal strengths: i.e. all those things you identified above! You’ve had them all along, but they’ve probably buried underneath all that other junk, and now’s the time to bring them out, dust them off and let them grow into the new space available.
Recognising your core strengths is like taking an inventory of everything in your own personal toolkit and then arranging and organizing the contents so you always know which tool (or strength) you can apply in any given situation and easily access and use it to give you the results you want. This ability makes you infinitely resourceful and able to handle any situation that comes into your path, giving you an inner source of security that brings with it a great deal of outer confidence and self assuredness.
So now you’ve unburdened yourself of anything unhelpful and taken stock of everything you’ve got going for you, making your move from ship to shore simply comes down to doing a bit of research. Find out where in the world your ideal career opportunities exist, and using your ideal environment criteria, whittle this down to the areas that most appeal. Then look into the options available – if you are keen to be self employed, what’s involved with that in those areas? Do a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) to evaluate the viability of running a business in these places.
Alternatively, to find an employer, research which companies exist that match your criteria and find out what positions are available at the top five companies. If you don’t mind where you’re based, choose the companies first – or if location is more important to you, choose that first and then research local companies.
Don’t worry if the companies you identify don’t have an opening in your chosen field – if the right person appears (ie you!) and you bring something they don’t currently have but really want, they might create a position just for you. Alternatively, if you find a company that really matches your ideal vision you could consider taking any kind of job there so you can get your foot in the door, with a view to proving yourself and then moving into your ideal role in the future.
Once you have identified your ideal shore based career move, and have found some openings to apply for, all that remains is to throw your heart and soul into making that move. Convincing a prospective new employer of your suitability for a role simply comes down to your ability to prove that you have what they are looking for. As long as you can illustrate that you possess the strengths, skills, passion and ability to do what they need you to be able to do – in your CV and interview – you will be able to make that transition smoothly and easily, and soon be on the path to creating that ideal life and career you really love.
To make sure you are on the most direct route to the outcomes you want, get into the habit of breaking your goals up into daily steps and regular milestones, i.e. weekly or monthly benchmarks to measure your progress against. This will ensure you don’t get overwhelmed and will also help you keep on track so you know you’re steadily moving towards achieving the ideal life you imagined in your rocking chair test.
So to successfully break free of those yachting golden handcuffs once and for all, all you need to do is identify and pursue a profession that fully plays to your strengths and passions, take stock of your skills and strengths and leave behind any unhelpful baggage you don’t need along the way. If you do this, those golden handcuffs will lose their grip, and if you recognise yachting as brilliant stepping stone to take you where you want to go, those golden handcuffs could even turn into a golden handshake that helps you set off with money in your pocket and a whole range of valuable skills in your toolkit.
The funny thing is, once you start down the path of least resistance you’ll find you make progress quickly and easily, without even noticing time passing. For this reason, last but not least, I just want to remind you of one more essential thing. Although it’s important to keep your end goals and life vision in mind, it’s equally important to take time to stop every once in a while, to look around and appreciate your surroundings and recognise how far you’ve come.
After all, life is a journey, not a destination – and happiness only exists in the present moment. The past is gone and the future doesn’t exist – so in reality, now is the only time you can ever actually enjoy yourself. The real secret of happiness is that you can find it wherever you are, by focusing on what you already have, what you’ve already achieved and what is right and working in your life right now, rather than everything you don’t have yet.
I hope you have enjoyed this series, and if you have any further queries about how to leverage your yachting experiences to create a life and career you really love, don’t hesitate to get in touch!
*Images courtesy of Creative Commons, Pixabay and Shutterstock
Alison Rentoul is ex yacht crew with 15 years of yachting experience, and a professionally trained personal development coach working with crew worldwide, helping them realise their highest potential at every level. See www.thecrewcoach.com for more information.