Achieve Your Goals by ‘Changing Tack’

Sailing at 30 degrees off the wind

People need goals to enrich their lives with purpose and direction…often discovering their bliss as well. But sometimes fears, self-doubts, negative thinking, or life dramas hijack dreams and they are lost, it seems, forever. However, by changing tack you might just find them again, as well as the courage to take a risk to follow wherever your dreams may lead.

‘Changing tack’ is a sailing term. When the wind is blowing directly from the direction in which you want to go, you have to sail at a 30-35 degree angle away from it to maintain forward momentum. Obviously, if you kept on sailing at this angle, you would never reach your destination, so you change tack. For instance, if you were sailing with the wind coming over the port (left) side of the boat, you would steer the yacht through 60-70 degrees, going head-on into the wind and allowing the yacht to turn until it begins sailing again with the wind coming over the starboard (right) side of the boat. To eventually reach your goal or destination you would keep changing tack like this, steering a zigzag course.

And this applies to life. Sometimes our set ways of doing things gives us a false sense of security and unwillingness to change. Clinging to bad habits keep us sailing on the same tack, afraid of going through those uncomfortable moments when things seem out of control (sails start flapping noisily) with a change of direction.

With the New Year well underway, perhaps you could ask yourself where you are heading on this sea called ‘life’. If you have a definite goal in mind, perhaps you have a headwind that represents many obstacles in the way of you achieving it. Here are five steps to help you take over the helm of your own destiny by learning to change tack.

1. Ask yourself: What are the negative thoughts, self-talk or fears that are not serving my highest good and keep me stuck in the same old thinking on the same tack?

For instance, are you in an unhappy relationship and afraid of ending it because you will have to face your fear of being alone? Maybe you are in a job that causes you considerable stress, but because of the economy you are afraid of taking a risk to leave or find something better. Is there something you have always dreamed of doing but you won’t take that first step because you don’t believe you deserve to be happy?

2. What are the bad habits or set ways I have of doing things that sabotage my success?

Do you have a habit of thinking that things won’t turn out for you because ‘nothing ever does’ and you are afraid to take a risk because you might fail? Do you have a bad habit of eating junk food and gaining weight, not getting enough sleep and becoming irritable with others, or spending more than you earn and stressing yourself over finances—all of which cause you to feel so bad about yourself, that the thought of following a dream seems hardly worth the effort?

3. What are the choices I have made that are now taking me away from my destination or goals?

Ask yourself: Do I blame others for not achieving my goals instead of taking responsibility for every bad choice I make, and every negative thought I think? Do I blame emotional vampires for commandeering my time and energy instead of taking responsibility for not setting clear boundaries and sending them on their way?

4. Take charge of your life by asking: What changes do I now need to make to stay on course towards my goals?

You might find that by not listening to your intuition or inner voice and following it, you repeatedly find yourself in unpleasant situations. For example, while sailing to Tonga on a friend’s yacht we encountered a bad storm. My intuition said to put another reef in the mainsail (reduce the sail area) before nightfall, but my friend insisted that we could outrun the storm. The result was that the storm ripped the mainsail in half and we had to take it down in the dark, putting my friend at risk of falling overboard. This list might be a long one, making it unrealistic to change everything at once. So take baby steps, and…

5. Choose at least one item each week or each month throughout the year and take affirmative action to change tack.

One action I am taking is to evaluate my progress in the direction of my goals on a regular basis—as one does while sailing offshore by plotting the yacht’s position on the chart each day at a certain time. This enables me to detect any self-sabotage that is taking me off course so that I can correct my thinking or choices before the goal ends up on the rocks!

By the time 2012 rolls around you may be pleasantly surprised at what you have achieved, and how much happier and content you are with life.

Happy sailing in 2011!

Print up these five steps, make a cup of herbal tea, and begin to write down some answers. Reflect upon this over a week or so and add to it. Then change tack…and keep changing tack until you reach your destination. And don’t forget that you can have some fun with this along the way!

Five Steps to Take Over the Helm of My Own Destiny

 

1. What are the negative thoughts, self-talk or fears that are not serving my highest good and keep me stuck on the same tack?

2. What are the bad habits or set ways I have of doing things that sabotage my success?

3. What are the choices I have made that are now taking me away from my destination or goals?

4. What changes do I now need to make to stay on course and achieve my goals?

5. Choose one item each week or each month throughout the year and take affirmative action to change tack.

You might also like to read:

Procrastination: Are You Sabotaging Your Own Success?
Don’t Quit

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