4 Lessons from Sailing to Navigate Life’s Waters

I’m excited to share about my recent sailing experience and the valuable lessons I learned along the way.

Last year I made a decision to take a career break and spend some time in Thailand. I had a few things on my agenda and one of them was to get certified as a yacht skipper. And the most exciting part of this journey was the lessons that had so many parallels with real life. Having to live and survive on a boat, we quickly realize what really matters and what our priorities should be. And now I would like to share with you my top 4 lessons: 

Lesson 1: Going with the Flow

Ocean currents help sailors to speed up and conserve fuel. So, if you want to move faster and save your energy, you will use the current to your advantage. Same as in real life. …

For most of my life, I have been goal-oriented, and letting myself with the flow did not come to me naturally. When we have an objective and we are determined to get what we want, we are likely to pay a higher price…Going against the flow to achieve our goals might be draining and often not wise. So, I realised how important is to choose our battles wisely and sometimes just go with the flow so that we save our energy and time for these moments in life when we do not actually have a choice.

Lesson 2: Enjoy the Journey, Not the Destination

We all have these big plans to complete something by the end of this or next year… I had multiple periods of my life where I used to plan everything in advance for a long time ahead. I had a notebook where I used to keep all my goals for each day of the year. 

Putting this into perspective now, I wonder if this is the right approach?!… 

Well, when sailing there is rarely any certainty. Plans change. The weather gets in the way. Things happen…. Same as in real life. Things change and we should be flexible. 

However, I still think that Destination is important as well as having a plan. We need to have a direction to stay focused and not get lost in the wilderness. At sea, the safety is number 1 priority and the course is subject to change at any time. We think about the currents, the winds, the weather, the potential dangers, the passengers.. our priorities are adjusted according to the situation and the conditions we are living at the moment .. and our destination can be postponed or even changed if is not relevant anymore… It may sound trivial but the takeaway here is to enjoy the journey, not the destination.  

Lesson 3: Being in the Same Boat

I found profound meaning in the expression “We are in the same boat”. I realized how true it was literally and metaphorically…

At sea sharing mutual understanding and facing the challenges together can be life-saving…. But even if we are not at sea, in our daily lives we still need to be aware of who is “in our boat” and if the persons in it share the same values as ours …

We must put our energy into the right cause… and right people… if not everyone on the boat agrees that safety is the number one priority, we could be in big trouble… and it is a matter of time for the boat to turn around… The takeaway here is that core values are stepping stones for any type of relationship whether professional or personal…

Lesson 4: Stay Mindful of the Wind’s Direction

In sailing, the direction of the wind often determines the course we must follow and whether any adjustments are necessary. If there is no wind, we cannot really move much. However, sailing with the wind can significantly increase our speed. To fully take advantage of this, we may need to adjust our course accordingly. Conversely, if we sail against the wind, we will barely make any progress regardless of our efforts. Learning to always be aware of the wind’s direction can be a game-changer in our lives. Mastering this skill can help us anticipate danger in real-life situations well in advance, or it can enable us to recognize opportunities that may not be obvious to everyone else.

This is not a recommendation on how to live but my lessons at this given point in time. And hopefully… some food for thought and reflection for you.