Survival May Be the First Step Toward Your Goals

I talk a lot about goals and knowing your ultimate objective. Some people push back that they can’t think about big goals right now with all that is happening. They are focused on survival. That’s all they can focus on.

Survival is the first step to success.

Imagine a ship captain sailing from London to New York. During the ordinary part of the journey, he focused on many things: the exact course, finding the best currents to achieve the best speed, crew efficiency and discipline, and more. All of these are in service of getting to New York as quickly as possible.

Then a storm comes up. High waves. Unpredictable winds. At any moment the ship may threaten to capsize or break up.

When the storm first begins, the captain is still trying to maintain the course to New York while fighting the storm. The storm gets worse. The captain no longer cares where New York is. The only focus is keeping the ship afloat in the storm.

The captain has not forgotten his goal. He knows that eventually the ship will sail into New York. Additional steps have been added before that goal can be achieved. His focus must be on fighting the storm from minute to minute.

At that point, working for survival is working towards his goals.

Every minute he keeps the ship sailing is one minute closer to the goal, no matter what direction the bow is facing.

When the storm passes, as it will, entirely without the Captain’s help, that part of the challenge is complete, and the course to New York can be resumed. The ship and crew will be ready and engaged to that task. The storm may have set them back some, but the capability of reaching the goal is not reduced.

The same may be true in your life. The storms in your life may be unexpected child care and education duties. They may be illness in your family. They may be an inability to work due to the quarantine. They may be your sense of isolation and fear.

I hope you do have goals, but the goals may need to become more flexible. Time restrictions may need to be altered or removed. The goal of “buy a house by 2022” may be changed to “buy a house.”

If you are in the storm, your job is to survive the storm, and in so doing you are working towards your goals.

We focus so much on progress because many of us do the same thing day in day out, year in year out, and nothing ever changes because we do not work towards change. In a storm, it is different. The factor that holds us back is external, not internal, and external factors eventually resolve themselves.

Like the storm, the child car issues, the illness, the quarantine, the economy, the isolation, all that will pass in their own in time. You cannot hasten their departure, and if they are preventing your progress, then you need only mark time until they are done.

Not all of us are facing a storm. It is important to do an honest assessment. Are the unusual conditions of these times actually stopping you or just slowing you down? If you are merely slowed, or possibly even not slowed at all, then you do not want to make the mistake of assuming you can just wait and things will get better.

But if you are deep in the storm and the ship is barely afloat, then your job is to keep the ship sailing. You need to stay afloat so that when the storm ends (and it will end) you are ready to resume sailing to your destination.

When that time comes, everything that made you great and strong and successful before will still be there. This time it will be augmented by everything you learned and all the strength you gained surviving the storm.

As you focus on survival, occasionally spare a thought for that distant goal. It’s still there, and you will still reach it. Remind yourself that you are not surviving for the mere purpose of survival. You are surviving to reach the time after the storm when you’ll move into the next stage of pursuing your goal.

Every storm ends, and yours will as well.


Do you find yourself storm tossed and aren’t sure what you should be doing now? Let’s talk. Click here to schedule a free, no obligation coaching session to help get you on course.

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