Well what about being stuck up said creek with a really leaky boat?
Suddenly having a paddle, or not having a paddle, is the least of your worries...
Why the state of your boat matters
Our lives are like the creek: sometimes smooth-going, sometimes, full of rapids. There’s not a lot we can do about the state of the creek, but we can do something about the state of the boat we’re travelling in.
Many of the clients I work with live internationally and travel on (or over) particularly challenging seas (quite literally sometimes) - away from their families and friends, adjusting to new environments and cultures, creating friendships on the hoof and dealing with the uncertainty of short term contracts, regular relocation and job transition.
The strains and stresses of this kind of living can take their toll and wear holes in your boat. When you’re living this kind of life it’s doubly important, in my opinion, to do boat-maintenance on a daily basis.
Flailing about in a panic for a paddle when the big challenges hit is futile if you’re sailing a fundamentally leaky vessel.
6 Key Boat-Builders
There are 6 key things you can do to build up an ongoing, daily practice of habits and mindsets, which mean that when you hit the Grade 4 rapids, your boat is sufficiently creek-worthy to navigate what’s ahead with grace and ease (paddle or no paddle).
Boat-Builder ♯1: Commit to being 100% responsible for everything that happens in your life
The best way to get really seaworthy is to KNOW and fully GET (and let me tell you this has taken me years and I still have the occasional wobble) that you are at CHOICE every moment of everyday.
This means getting to grips with the little gremlins (the limiting beliefs and fears), which sit on your shoulder and encourage you to play the victim and pass the buck.
This means taking control of your life and the way you feel in a big (and sometimes scary way) but boy, can this be the deal breaker when it comes to building up a mental toughness and your ability ride the rapids with ease when things happen in your life which don’t go 100% in your favour.
Boat-Builder ♯2: Get to know yourself, fully
The clearer you are about who you are and what you’ve got to offer - your strengths and your weakness - the easier it will become to create and capitalize on the opportunities that are right for you, and in doing so, encounter less false starts, self-doubt, dead ends and ‘rapids’.
This doesn’t mean hiring a psychotherapist to dig into the minutiae of your past. It means reflecting on your strengths and values and your unique capabilities (your ‘genius’ if you like) and how those things are valuable and of worth both in a professional and personal context.
Again this is a biggie, and a potentially daunting one. The good news is that the people who commit themselves to this process generally end up liking themselves MORE, not less!
Boat-Builder ♯3: Learn how to make your brain work FOR you, not against you
Get to grips with the basics of neurology – and I mean the basics! Once you know how to make your brain work for you, rather than against you, you can go about manipulating it to your advantage and using it to support you through the tough stuff.
For years I didn’t realize how I was letting my brain work against me and getting me into all sorts of bother – I’m now firmly back in the driving seat, calling the shots and reprogramming when there’s a short circuit.
No more unnecessary adrenaline and much less stress.
Boat-Builder ♯4: Understand the connection between your mind and your body
This one doesn’t have to be on some kind of hippy yogic level, it simply means becoming more aware of your body and how the way you use it affects how you feel about what’s happening.
It truly IS possible to alter your state of mind by adjusting your body. If you don’t believe me: try standing up, throwing your hands in the air and saying ‘I feel awful’ in a depressed voice – I guarantee you will struggle not to smile.
Boat-Builder ♯5: Get real about what is and isn’t working in your life
No one can expect to operate at their best on a daily basis (let alone deal with the Grade 4 rapids when they appear), if there’s a constant drain on your energy - if you’re physical environment is getting you down, your work-personal life balance is poor, or you’re using up vital brain space with a never-ending to do list.
Get real about what is and isn’t working in your life, what’s draining your energy, what you’re tolerating and what things you’d like to be in your life that aren’t.
Boat-Builder ♯6: Make the changes to your daily and weekly routine that keep your reserves of energy and personal wellbeing topped up
Often the first thing we do when we’re under duress is close in on ourselves and stop doing the things which give us the most pleasure, support, healthy energy and keep us sane.
Work gets intense? We minimize our trips to the gym.
We move to a new place? We reduce communication with our old friends and support networks.
When you know what supports you and what you really need in your life to be at your best, you can ensure those things are prioritized in such a way that your personal reserves are permanently topped up. That way when a tough time does occur you’re not running on empty with nothing left in the tank, or, to stick with our metaphor: travelling in your boat without an adequate lifejacket.
I'd love to know what resonates here for you?
What are the techniques or approaches you’ve used or changes you’ve made which have helped your boat become more sea-worthy (and YOU become more resilient) over the years?
You can share your thoughts in the comments below.