Have you ever woken up one morning, looked around at your life, and wondered to yourself, How did I get here? There are moments in all of our lives where we look around, as though adrift in a boat in an unfamiliar sea, and start to re-evaluate our past decisions, our goals, and what we want the trajectory of our lives to look like. What do we want to do with our lives? What makes us tick, and gets us excited about waking up each day? What have we always wanted to accomplish that we just haven’t gotten around to doing yet? Where, perhaps, did we veer off from the course we had originally charted, and how do we navigate back?
It is precisely in these moments that it is so important to figure out first where we are. From there, we can navigate to wherever it is we want to go. It is also important to tune into our own intuition and inner guidance to ask if, and perhaps how, we’ve gotten off course. I had a fabulous epiphany about this when I was sailing in St. Martin this past May. There I was at the helm, sailing the boat towards our next fun snorkeling spot, when I took a quick glance at our navigation screen. In the middle of the screen, in a sea of blue with numbers marking water depth and giant crosses warning of underwater shipwrecks, there is an icon of a little boat. This is our boat. And drawn directly off the nose of our little boat is a heading line, which is a straight line letting you know where you’re going to go if you stay exactly on your current course. When I looked at the heading line, it went straight out over the picture of an underwater wreck! Yikes! We were sailing at 7 knots, which is a decent speed, and I knew that if I didn’t adjust my course, we would certainly run into whatever mess was under the water up ahead. So, I dialed in the navigation to a new course where we would avoid the wreck with wide berth and it told me to go to the west three degrees. Three tiny degrees and I was going to totally miss this giant underwater catastrophe. Really? I thought. Just three degrees? But, sure enough, it was just three degrees on a compass of 360. As it turns out, three degrees is a tiny change in direction at the point of the directional change. However, when you follow that three degree shift outward, it ends up taking you a great distance from where you were previously. And, as you might expect, the longer you keep following the path away from your original course, the farther away you get from that original course. So, as I turned the wheel, I started thinking… if three tiny degrees can send us in a totally different direction in a boat, in the middle of the ocean, what can three degrees do in our lives? That epiphany almost knocked me overboard.
First of all, we sometimes make decisions in life that take us off our paths by a degree or two, maybe even three or more. If we are paying attention, we can usually re-route pretty quickly, get back on course, and avoid the shipwreck. If we aren’t paying attention, though, and we aren’t checking in with ourselves about where we’re going and what we’re doing in life, we can quickly get far afield of where we want to be! And, let’s be honest, here. Most of us have made decisions that we knew in our guts weren’t in alignment for us. We have meandered off our intended paths just to get a glimpse of some shiny object three degrees away; we have walked into relationships or other situations that had so many red flags that they looked like a Nascar race; and, sometimes, we have gotten so far off track that even navigating back to where we once were seemed an impossibility.
Fortunately, no matter where we are, or how far off course we feel we have strayed, we can usually turn the boat around! Remember how it was only three little degrees to get me off the course of the shipwreck? Often, it doesn’t take nearly as much effort, stress, work or frustration as we fear it’s going to, to change our course entirely. At any given point in time, we can choose again. We can re-think taking that job offer that doesn’t really light us up. We can take a closer look at the relationships that don’t feel good to us anymore. We can ask ourselves what we want our lives to look like, if they don’t look like we want them to right now. We can always tune into our internal compass and ask for guidance about the best, most successful, most enjoyable and fulfilling course available to us. This is priceless information because if we’re not exactly on our best course, we can start to re-orient our little boats in the direction of our dreams and goals! When we make a decision to change our course even three tiny degrees, while it may not feel like a lot of change at first, the longer we stick to that path, the greater the distance we will cover!
Here are a few questions for you to get you started. Grab your journal or sit with these in a quiet space, so you can hear that still, small voice inside when it gives you the answers you’re asking for!
Am I where I want to be in my work? Where am I in relation to my intended path and where do I feel like I have strayed from where I want to be? What is one three-degree action step that I could take today that would move me towards my work goals? For example, if your goal is to spend more time at home with your family, is it really in alignment to take on two big new projects at work right now? Or, if your dream is to step more fully into a leadership position at your company or firm, what is one three-degree action you could take towards that goal?
Am I in a relationship that is in alignment with my highest expression of love? What do I want to experience in relationship/partnership, and what do I need to do in order to have that experience? For instance, if you want to share more openly with your partner, and to have better communication, where can you shift your actions even just three degrees towards that goal? Or, what actions are you taking regularly that bring you away from that connection and intimacy?
What situations have I been creating in my personal life that no longer serve me? What three-degree actions can I take right now to create situations that I do want, and that will be in my highest good?
There is a saying in sailing: Set your course and adjust the sails. It means that you get to choose the course you want to be on, the destination you want to reach. And, once you know that, you just need to figure out how to get enough wind in your sails to get you to the destination you’ve chosen. This is my invitation to you today. Tune into your intuition, to your internal guidance or compass and figure out where you are right now. Is this where you want to be? If not, where do you want to be and what do you need to do in order to get there?
I’d love to hear about the course you’re on right now, and how you’re adjusting your sails to get to where you want to go! Drop me a comment in the space below and let’s get the discussion started!