Sailing is one of those activities that I dream of . Maybe it’s being landlocked in the midwest, but I love the ocean and all things nautical. Except octopus. (Hence the decor ideas for my new office space – more about that later.)
In one of my speaking engagements, I talked about goal-setting. I used nautical terms to get my point across along with images and youtube videos. Granted, most of the audience didn’t care about sailing and I knew that but by the time I had finished, a few simple terms stuck in their mind and several people sought me out at the end to share with me that they appreciated it.
Tacking is one of those terms. Tacking is the heading of a sailing vessel, when sailing close-hauled, with reference to the wind direction. . . one of the series of straight runs that make up the zigzag course of a ship proceeding to windward. . . to change the course of (a sailing vessel) to the opposite tack. It is a zig-zag course as opposed to a straight line. It is the constant readjustment of your vessel to reach your chosen destination.
Small zags would be akin to my monthly adjustments when I evaluate where I am compared to where I want to be. Larger zags would be changing careers, taking a new job.
Life will carry you downstream if you let it. Stuff happens. Disappointments happen. If you let the current carry you along, you will end up somewhere you didn’t want to be. Way back when I chose my first career as a cartographer, I had a fascination with maps, mapping, exploring, charting unexplored lands. Still have the fascination, just not the job. By the way, for those who don’t know cartography is the study of maps, a cartographer is a map maker. I made maps. I wished for the days of the large sailing vessels and to be an ancient mariner creating those magnificent maps that are adorned with sea monsters and forebodings such as “here there be dragons”. The career choice landed me a profitable career with our defense department with a tidy income and numerous perks. Until the point when I decided to pursue an alternate career choice that turned out to be the biggest blessing and the biggest source of stress. What are you going to do, right? I wouldn’t change it for the world, though.
If you don’t adjust your compass heading, tack starboard or tack port, you’ll end up dashed on the rocks.
I find myself diametrically opposed however, to certain individuals who believe – make a plan and stick to the plan. Keep working on THAT plan. But what do you do when that plan is snatched from your grasp? What do you do when the company that you have worked for twenty years decides they need a cutback? It’s nothing personal, they just need to cut their workforce by 15% and you happen to be on the list? How does that figure into THAT plan?
It doesn’t. That’s when life has dealt you a bad hand and you can’t even bluff your way into a winning round.
So you adjust, overcome, improvise. Pull up your big girl pants, put on the steel boned corset and chart a new course. It’s far easier to make minor adjustments on a regular basis than end up in some strange land where you don’t speak the language and discover that you have lost your way.
Today is that day for me. I evaluate where I am on my projects and determine my plan of action for the coming month. Last month I started on the massive project of caring out an office area in our basement. I shared pictures of the unfinished but mostly clean area. Another project moved into top priority and I lost some ground. The temptation to put stuff in an empty space is too great for some people to resist. I’m not going to name names as I am guilty myself. I don’t even have an office yet, but I have shelves of my writing related stuff moved in. It would have been so much easier to get flooring, walls, lighting, and all that painting business done first but it didn’t happen that way. I needed it out of my kitchen and living room where it was in the way.
Anyway, tacking to the starboard. The plan for June on the office front is ramping up this project and focusing on existing writing projects. I’m not taking on any additional editing jobs until I get the ones I have completed. I hate falling behind and these will go back to the author with no charge. I’ve edited her entire series and I can see growth and improvement in her writing from the first one to this one. This is encouraging to me as a writer and as an editor because it means that my own writing can improve. It also means that it doesn’t have to be perfect to release my babies into the world. It’s not like the old days when the only means of publication were the big seven. It provides a moment of opportunity to tack starboard or port in my writing as well and adjust my course to reach my destination.
Take a few moments today to check your headings. Where are you in comparison to where you want to be? What adjustments can you make in the coming month? year? What goals are you working towards? Do you need to set a new course entirely?
I plan to start tomorrow on the right foot, the right headings, and make every day count.
Write on my friends, write on!
Til next time,