There is nothing better than to know that you don’t know.
-Lao Tzu (Tao Te Ching)
As Ren and I drive down US 17 South in a rented 10’ Budget moving truck I realize that I am not sure what our plans are. Yeah, I know where we are headed and when we have to be at Port Everglades to ship out cargo over to the Bahamas but what about our plans? We do not even really know what we are doing or where we will be in four months from now. Part of me is terrified by this fact. The other part is ecstatic at the prospect of change and adventure. There is a third part of me also. the third part is saying, “Yeah, yeah, no plans…great. Yeah, yeah, excitement…whatever. But how will you make it happen?” Everyone would be living like we do if they could answer that question with 100% certainty.
Although we do not know what lies ahead of us four months from now what we do know is that we are about 1/4 of the way into a two year plan. The two year plan includes traveling on Nila Girl and focusing solely on freedive training and competition. For two years we will suck up all of our financial hardships, missing our friends and family and coping with out other non-conformities in order to pursue these goals. This brings me to a valid point and one worth making. How are we doing what we are doing? How are we maintaing our relationship along the way. The short answer and the most relevant one is that we make goals and we stick to them. If I want to jump ship in a year and abandon sailing it is not an option. We are committed to two years. If I get tired of training and competing, too bad, two years. “Stick to the plan” is a mantra developed by Ren, myself and our buddy, Nick Mevoli. When faced with a fork in the road traveling through the Caribbean we always fell back on this mantra to help make our decisions. When I want to jump ahead deeper and deeper in my freedive training, Ren and I rely on this mantra to keep the focus and keep us from getting injured or burnt out. The simple act of setting common goals together is productive. It assures both of us that our concerns and needs are being considered. That our hopes for the future will not be washed up on a Bahamian shore one day where we reach down to pick it up, not even recognizing our hope for what it was.
Setting and sticking to the plan shines a light at the end of the tunnel. If we get tired, bored or craving stability there is always an exit strategy. I encourage everyone to grab life by the horns, live for the moment, carpe diem, blah, blah, blah but please and especially if you have a significant other to consider, do not be afraid to commit to a change of plan or at least the option for one even if it is a temporary solution. It’s ok to make plans and it’s ok to stick by them. It doesn’t mean you have lost your thrill for life, your edge…it means you care about something or someone other than just yourself. We are in this together and by having goals and discussing them openly, both partners actually feel like this is true. Like they are part of something bigger, a team. The work of a team is a beautiful thing. I am no lifestyle or marriage counselor. You’ll smirk to hear that I have been married less than two years. The advice of goal setting is timeless and transcends my limited life experience.
Whether you are attacking credit card debt, planning to start a a family or working towards the trip of a lifetime, break the unmanageable , daunting parts of your life into smaller bits. $40,000 of debt sounds like a lot more than a transitional plan would. A plan where you never look at the $40,000 but look at the debt in terms of monthly and yearly goals. If paying off the debt isn’t a real goal, you will never make it happen. Sit down with your partner and discuss goals in terms of 6, 12. 2 or 5 year plans. If is was not for this organized approach to managing our lifestyle two people with mediocre paying jobs like ours could not have ever made this happen. The finances of this trip must be discussed often, sometimes daily (or every time the talk needs to happen). Sure the conversation isn’t always pleasant. Sure the tone becomes accusatory and mocking sometimes but we get through it together and keep each other’s attitudes in check. Besides, a hostile tone can even be productive. It let’s people know you care. Nothing wrong with righteous anger. We live with the same standards working towards the same goals..sometime grudgingly. However, this team approach to life makes it a lot easier to assess when one of us looses track of the plan.
I know this little equation sounds a bit cheesy but it’s true:
goals+communication+compromise=anything you want!