I recently had a conversation with a truly kind co-worker, generous with his time and the wisdom of his experience. “Don’t burn yourself out too soon,” he advised. “You have to pace yourself. Building a career is like maneuvering a boat, like tacking.”
What is tacking? Various Google searches and YouTube videos informed me that tacking is the process used to get from A to B when sailing upwind. When tacking, the wind is always at a right angle to the boat, sometimes on the starboard side (right) and sometimes on the port side (left). By swinging the boom of the sail to travel right after traveling left and then back right again, the boat gets to its destination in a zigzagged path versus a straight one.
Traveling against the wind, versus with it, could be an entirely different conversation. I’d like to focus on taking a zigzagged path toward your destination versus a straight one, and the idea that with each direction we travel, we take something away that ultimately propells us towards our destination.
I have most certainly had this experience in my own life, frustrating, though, at times it can be. I have often told myself, “I am having this experience for a reason. There is something I am supposed to be taking away from this. The faster I figure it out, the faster I can stop having this experience I’d rather not be having.”
I don’t know if figuring out the purpose of my various experiences propelled me on to the next thing at a faster rate or not. But in retrospect, I wish I had learned to be a little more patient with the right angles of the wind. I wasn’t necessarily off course; I was just tacking – zigzagging to my destination.