What To Do When The Boat Starts To Sink

Picture the scene: It’s a beautiful spring day so you decide to take a little rowboat out on the lake. You make it out to the middle of the lake, and just as you put your feet up to start enjoying the tranquillity, you notice water starting to pool at your feet.

To your horror, you become aware that the boat has sprung a leak, and you’re slowly sinking.

You realise that in this new reality you find yourself in, there are a couple of options:

  1. Find a way to plug the hole in the boat
  2. Start rowing quickly back to shore before the boat sinks.

Now, I’d say in an ideal situation you’d find something to plug the hole, get rid of the excess in the bottom of the boat and get back to the business of relaxing and enjoying your day right?

In life, we’re presented with many similar, seeming obvious decisions. But often, we end up making the wrong choice – the wrong call at the wrong time.

If you have somewhere you want to end up in your life – an ideal goal you’re striving for – be it a change of career, or building up your savings – whatever it is, there will be steps you need to take today that put you on the right path.

Think of those steps as being the equivalent to plugging the hole in the boat. It’s the making of a budget and allocating savings on your path to financial freedom, or the signing up for training or studying on the path to a new career.

Without taking those steps then the journey is going to be a lot harder. If you try frantically rowing back to shore without dealing with the hole then the chances are you’re going to sink before you get there – stressed, tired and wet. And you’ll have missed out on a lovely day.

A lot of the time we get so focused on the end result, that we forget (or are unwilling) to think about whatever needs to be done to get there. We rush through trying to get to the end, but forget that life is lived in the now.

So whatever it is that you’re aiming for, make sure you first think about the steps you need to get there.

It’s The Little Things.

We get caught up with trying to add value to other people’s lives. It’s a great ambition to have, but sometimes trying to focus on the big changes, means that we end up not doing much of anything.

A little gesture can go a very long way- a sincere thank you when someone does something nice, a friendly smile or a word of encouragement at the right moment- these little things add up to make a huge impact.

Bringing positivity into the world, one small step at a time, will make the biggest difference.

Too Busy Or Too Distracted?

We always feel the need to be ‘doing something’, as our lives are seemingly too busy. Next time you have the TV on in the background, catching up on some show that isn’t entertaining enough to give your full attention, while scrolling through various apps/articles/feeds on your phone, think about why. Would you rather be doing a few things that don’t warrant your full attention, or would you rather just do one thing, but do it right, and do nothing else at the same time?

Patience

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Lao Tzu

My writing isn’t very good at the moment but I’m OK with that. The start of any journey is always the hardest part, but it does get easier. The key is not to get frustrated and give up. It takes time to get better- that is true of everything in life- relationships, hobbies, work. The real pleasure in life comes from knowing you are growing, really seeing and appreciating every breakthrough that you make and enjoying every step of the way. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself straight away to be the best you can be. Sometimes that internal pressure can be useful – it separates the good from the great but if life is a journey then it doesn’t always have to be a sprint.

I enjoy writing, and I will get better at it the more I practice. I don’t need to be the best writer in the world, and I won’t get annoyed that I struggle to put the right words on the page sometimes. But I will enjoy the journey.

Multitasking

“You can do two things at once, but you can’t focus effectively on two things at once.”
Gary Keller

I’ve never been one for multitasking, in fact most of the time I struggle with doing one thing at a time. We’re told constantly how this is the key to achieving maximum productivity, but I don’t buy it. How can dividing your attention between things possibly help improve either task?

I think it comes down to time, and our perceived lack of it. What I would say is that if something is really worth doing, and is important to you then it really deserves your full attention. Have you ever tried having a meaningful conversation with someone while they’re looking at their phone? Looking up occasionally, giving a nod and then getting back to whatever it is that’s clearly more interesting and important than what you’re saying. It’s very annoying.

We’ve somehow convinced ourselves as a society that we are a lot busier than we actually are. “I don’t have time to take a lunch break today, so I’ll just grab a snack and eat at my desk”. “Sorry Mum, no time to talk. I’ll call you in a few days when I’ve finished this project.” We never seem to have enough time… Yet we have seen that funny cat video that’s gone viral on YouTube, and read that BuzzFeed article about the 200 most amazing things from reality TV, and caught the latest ep of Game of Thrones, and played Grand Theft Auto 5. It’s not that we don’t have enough time, but that we get pulled into all these distractions – our attention is constantly being taken by all these things that don’t matter. Next time you’re on a train, look at how many people are on their phones. How many are playing Candy Crush? My guess is quite a few. Or scrolling mindlessly through a social media feed – not really taking anything in but just endlessly scrolling.

Some of these ‘distractions’ might bring you joy, they may really add value to your life and that’s fine, but you need to ask, am I missing out on something more important? Is my attention being taken away from something else that is far more deserving of my time? The next time you feel like you’re too busy have a think about what has been taking your time away from you, and if it has really been worth it.

Find something you love, focus on it above all else, and see whether or not that brings you more joy. I bet it will.