by EMILY ORTON
This is week 1 of 7 in a series counting down to the launch of our new book, Seven at Sea.
Warning: These stories are not like a made-for-TV cooking show where the counters are wiped down, the aprons are clean, sous chefs chop all of the ingredients, and a gorgeous version of your dish already warm and waiting in the oven. These are real crowded counters; what can I use as a substitute?; crap, I have to go to the store again; who turned the oven off?
The is the real deal Dreaming with Discipline. It doesn’t have to all happen at once. It doesn’t even have to happen every day. It can come in spurts and seasons. But once you have a vision and you take one step in that direction, you are on your way.
Step 1 – Choose Your Own Island
My nineteen-year-old daughter, Alison was agitated and discouraged. She had completed her first year of college, her first year away from home, and was still in the achy heart stages of a broken engagement. We happened to be in Hawaii, so you can imagine that we walked and talked along Waikiki beach, if you want to. But the reality is that we walked miles under a freeway along a chain link fence near Honolulu airport occasionally avoiding dog poop. I wore flip-flops because, Hawaii. Five miles later my fortysomething feet were devastated. I limped for the next week. But here’s why it was worth it.
Alison said, “Our family is all about making plans and making them happen, but I can’t make a plan because I don’t know what I want to do with my life.”
Referencing her age would have been cold comfort. Instead I told her the truth—that feeling lost is not a cause for alarm because it’s actually perfectly normal to feel that way at any age. We move in and out of knowing where we want to go next with our lives.
I explained my view: Just like boredom leads to creativity, (You can bet my kids hear that every time they tell me they are bored), being lost leads to exploring and discovering your way.
STEP 1 –Choose Your Own Island
Deciding on a destination, whether short term or long term, is like standing on shore and choosing an island to sail to. Choose. Your. Own. Each of these words is important. Every time you pass through a season of exploration, you have the opportunity to know more deeply how many choices you truly have.
There is a classic line in so many movies. One character will throw down this excuse, “I had no choice.” Our SJ usually voices my mental dialogue, “Yes. You had a choice. The bad guy said do this or a destroy you. That’s at least two options.”
More commonly, we hear people say, “I hate this job, but I have no choice. Where else would I go?” There are so many choices in those few sentences.
Choose to quit, stop earning, and take time to think about what else you might want to do.
Milk that cash cow and bank it for a future dream, which puts a new perspective on that “lame” job.
Search the internet for where else you would go and cast a new vision for yourself.
Stay and acknowledge that you like the steady paycheck and the familiar predictable way of obtaining it.
Each of these scenarios leads to more honest and empowered language than, “I have no choice.” There are people on this planet with severely limited options, but if you are reading this, you’re probably not one of them. You do not have to keep doing what you’re doing unless you want to. And if you want to, congratulations!! You are doing what you want. Enjoy it.
Almost twenty years ago, I was a stay-at-home mom; new to New York City with two toddlers I got jealous when a single neighbor told me about her upcoming trip to Peru. But I came to the conclusion that I was doing exactly what I wanted with my life. I was married to exactly the guy I wanted to marry. I wanted to have children. That wish came true. I chose to have children young so I would have lots of energy as they grew up. That was all going according to plan. I’d chosen not to accept job offers and Erik agreed to support us. I was living my dream. Sure, travel would be amazing, but I was not in a position to have everything. My circumstances only had room for what mattered most.
That’s what choosing your own island is all about. We’ll end with some questions to consider. These questions stay away from how you are going to get from where you are to where you want to be. Maybe you want to start a business, end a toxic relationship, or be home with your kids. Maybe you want to climb a mountain, sail an ocean, or go viral on Youtube. Maybe you want to be a golf-pro, open a yoga studio, or spend a season in the English countryside. Maybe you want to be debt free. (Such a worthy and hard-won adventure). I’m pulling ideas from real life, so if you see your dream here, woot-woot!
We stay where we are, doing what we normally do until we believe with enough confidence that something better is out there; a better place, a better way, and we believe that the effort it will take to transition to Better is worth the risks and challenges required to move from the current situation to a new situation. Cultivating that vision is the first step.
Choosing your own island is only concerned with the final destination, not the route or mode of transportation. As you explore and discover what matters most to you, these questions attempt to guide away from excuses, worry, or fear in any format.
7 Guiding Questions
What do you want more of in your life?
What do you want less of in your life?
What do you want, but are resisting?
Is there something you’ve always wanted to try, but feel embarrassed?
What if you weren’t afraid?
What if you knew you would be successful?
What could go right?
Questions NOT to Consider (at this time)
What if my spouse and kids don’t have the same dream?
What about my responsibilities at work, church, or home?
What about the money?
We’ll kick that can down the road. Now is not the time to figure out logistics. It’s time to Choose Your Own Island.
We’ll talk about Navigating Out of the Harbor next Saturday. In the meantime, please join us on Tuesday, January 22nd at 1pm (ET) for a FB Live discussion about this post. If you can’t make it at that time, you can watch the recorded discussion on the Fezywig Facebook page.
Also, we’re excited to announce that the ebook/Kindle version of Seven at Sea is now available to order. So for those of you who live on the go or who just hate paper, here’s your big chance, Seven at Sea, the digital book.