When the kids were little and my husband dreamed of owning a boat, he would take them to Bass Pro Shops and let them run around inside the boats on display, pretending to fish off the bow. They’d take turns behind the wheel fascinated to see how the motor would turn as they turned the wheel. It’s hard to turn that wheel when you’re not in the water. It’s even harder to get anywhere.

Once the boat is in water, you can turn the wheel all you want and you still won’t get anywhere until the boat is in motion. Once it’s moving forward at even a nominal speed, it’s noteworthy how quickly you can change the direction of the boat with the smallest adjustment of the steering wheel.

The boat in this picture is your life strategy. It’s beautiful. It’s admirable there on the fence. There’s just one problem. You’re life strategy is going to be in the same place it was yesterday if you don’t put that boat in the water.

Somebody told me recently that the thought of developing a life strategy sounds daunting. She said, “It sounds like too much work and even a little scary to figure out what I want to do the rest of my life.” True that for some people, we just need a strategy to get through the week. I respect that. But after you’ve survived a few weeks, then what? Your life strategy might be as simple as,

  • …how to improve the work I’m doing in my current role to help my company reach its goals, or
  • …how to plot a path to the position where I think my strengths will best serve the organization, or
  • …how to curate my career so the next role I apply for will provide the challenge I need to thrive.

When I sit and think too long on what I’m doing and where I want to go, I find the water starts to stink. That’s exactly what you find when you visit ships that have been immobile for too long. The birds have begun to nest inside the anchor hold and poop all over the place. The anchor grows rusty and you’re never sure if it’s even going to hold.

I might be getting out of my expertise on ships with this metaphor, but you get the picture. Your life strategy is nothing more than a destination. Life Strategy Design is basically a guided expedition to gain clarity on where you’re going and co-create a plan to get there. Share your journey metaphors with us here. Or start your own journey now. Let’s get that boat in the water. Your future is waiting. Aren’t you ready to discover it?

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