The transition from living in the rat race to living full time on a sailboat has taught me some amazing lessons. One of the largest lessons I’ve noted, thus far, is my ability to consciously choose life’s course rather than live life on automatic pilot. In the past I thought I was making choices but after reflection I was simply being distracted by life rather than living it.
Let me explain how I came to this realization – first I have to back up a bit to show you were my line of thought started…
Recently, I’ve been debating, in my head, as to whether I have more options with my current lifestyle than I had in my previous ‘rat race’ life. And taking that a bit further, I’ve asked myself, ‘Self – are too many choices more apt to complicate life rather than simplify it?’
Since selling up and sailing away endless possibilities have opened up
And with those endless possibilities I’ve had to seriously increase my decision-making skills. My romantic notion of sailing into the sunset and doing nothing couldn’t be further from the truth.
Sailing around the world certainly isn’t simple – our new lifestyle of doing nothing is anything but ‘doing nothing!’
Not only do I have a multitude of destinations I can go to at almost any moment, there’s my choice on when I leave for the next destinations and what kind of weather I want to travel in (high wind, low wind, etc.). And what time should I leave – during the morning or how about late at night? At this very moment, I have the option to move our home to Greece, Malta, Turkey, Croatia, Spain, France, Portugal or Africa.
Two days ago I was in Malta, today I’m in Sicily and in the next week or so, depending on how the winds are blowing, I might just be in Greece or should I pop up to Croatia?
Then there is limitless choices on how to spend my days too – do I visit with friends, make new friends (that’s more spontaneous but you must be out and about to allow for that to happen!), explore my surrounding area, go for a bike ride, take a swim, try a new cuisine, go grocery shopping, read a book, work on my blog/shop, write an article, create a new product to sell, do a cooking video, for Britican Galley, work on my latest book, see an ancient ruin (in the Mediterranean you’re never far from some sort of old thing!), clean the boat, fix something on the boat (that list is endless), have alone time, have family time and on and on the list goes.
In my old life, I had a limited amount of choice on where I traveled for work (home or the office) and I had to work no matter what the weather was doing…and sadly, I worked almost every hour of the day – I seriously didn’t know how to do anything other than work.
And the way I spent my workday was dictated by whatever project was requiring the most attention. Yes, I had choice about what I did but it was almost always dictated by employees, clients or suppliers. In most cases, I don’t think I had to think much, but rather, I just reacted.
Was I reacting to life in my past rather than consciously choosing life’s path?
Yes…I think so.
And what about the weekends in my old life? Yes, I had the choice on what activities to do with family and friends – exploring, socializing, and spending time together. Making time to make a new friend – that almost never happened. My choice on friends was mostly a done deal – I had no reason to increase my circle. Furthermore, where would I find the time to deepen another friendship?
Home management forced many of my choices down the path of laundry, shopping, cleaning, and doing the yard/garden. My week was mainly broken up into my career with a tiny bit of extra activities in the evenings and then the weekends where I recovered from work, got the house in order and socialized a bit.
Sure, I had choice, but my choices seemed much more limited. My life seem unconscious…it just happened. Life was very routine. I didn’t stop to think.
My life now is totally different – actually, I should put, TOTALLY DIFFERENT
Now, I wake in the morning and think, ‘how do I feel?’ I scan my body to simply feel the sensations of having a body. I then take a look at my mood – am I happy to be alive? The answer, thankfully, is almost always a ‘yes.’
The old Kim would wake up, jump out of bed due to oversleeping, rush around the house like a manic and if I had time to pay attention to my mind, my thoughts would be, ‘life sucks!’
I never in a million years knew that I had the capability to check in with myself! Feelings? What were those?
Life was go, go, go…do, do, do.
‘So, what do I feeeeeeeeeeeeeel like doing now?’ I now ask myself
Back on the boat…after checking in with my body and mind, a routine I never had time for before, I ask myself, ‘And what do I feel like doing right now and what would I like to do today?’ I go through a checklist of a dozen or more things thinking, ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ or ‘maybe.’
This morning I thought, ‘it’s 5:30am…should I go back to sleep? Or, should I watch the sun come up? Or, should I do some writing? Or, should I do some Yoga…Or, should I make a fresh pot of coffee? Or, should I read my book?’ That’s before I even started to consider what the plan for the day might be.
I now ask myself what feels like the best choice for me in the moment.
In my old life I never had time to think about options – life just happened and it was relentless
So – what’s the plan for today?
After thinking about various opportunities for the day, my husband usually wakes up and asks, ‘So what’s the plan for today?’ We then lay in bed discussing our endless possibilities.
The biggest question in our lives is ‘how do we want to spend our time moment by moment?’
At first sight this might seem like ‘living the dream.’ Who wouldn’t want to be able to “choose life’s course” (the motto of SailingBritican.com)?
Yes, it is a blessing but it can also be somewhat of a curse. With choice comes opportunity cost and opportunity cost can quite a demon to battle with.
Opportunity cost = the loss of other alternatives when one alternative is chosen
We have so many choices and therefore we consequently have so many alternatives that we’re missing out on.
But this is where the importance of flowing with life comes in (that I talk about incessantly).
With this kind of way of living, we need to teach ourselves how to consciously, “choose life’s course.” We might have loads of choice, but perhaps there’s a limit to what we feeeeeeeeeeeel like doing.
As long as we check in with ourselves, get to grips with where we are emotionally, physically and mentally, survey the choices available and then choose what feels best at the time, I think we’re on the right path.
Could I have lived more consciously in my old life?
I think I could have paid more attention to how I felt before taking action…but the world I used to occupy was so busy. It was filled with distraction after distraction – drama, advertisements, other people’s problems, my problems, the world’s problems, not enough time in the day, work, work, work and on and on.
Looking back, I don’t know how I lived the way I use to live
Instead of analyzing my life, figuring out if I was in the right job or spending my time in a way that fulfilled me I just kept busy – I just made sure that I was distracted by life rather than living life. It’s as if I didn’t want to ask the questions, ‘Am I happy,’ because I knew if I did the answer would be ‘no’ and then I’d have to take responsibility for my unhappiness.
I might have a billion options now but my overall distractions have been massively reduced
There’s no TV, no news, no advertisements, no ‘keeping up with the Jones,’ no world problems…And more importantly, I’m not working for the sake of working. I now LOVE what I do to earn and income.
Speaking of an income, it’s important to note that I’m not retired. I don’t want to be put in the ‘lucky for some,’ category. I’m still working…I still have to do activities to create an income so that we can carry on with this lifestyle.
The difference now is that I’m consciously choosing life’s course
I’m consciously choosing when I feel like working and what ‘working’ means. I’m checking in with myself and determining if this moment is the right moment to write an article OR go for a swim. And because I’m doing the kind of work that I love (writing, blogging, growing my nautical themed shop) I actually WANT to work…I enjoy working. I also enjoy all my other options too.
I seriously never thought life could be so amazing. I count my blessings every day that I had the courage to step out, take responsibility for my fulfillment and make a change in my life. If it wasn’t for my decision to say ‘screw-it’ to my old life and change it for a new one I don’t think I would have ever learned this new and improved way to live.
So… that’s how sailing full time has taught me how to take my life off automatic pilot and consciously choose life’s course.
If you’re a full time cruiser, I’d be interested to know if you’ve experienced the same?
When one sets out to change the course of their life, they don’t know what’s in store for them. I’m coming around to the belief that as long as you want to find more fulfillment and are willing to step out into the unknown, the world can truly become a heaven on Earth.