Change of Direction

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

~Jimmy Dean


Sometimes it feels as if the winds of change are blowing you so hard in the wrong direction that you can’t even catch your breath. You’re trying your hardest to correct course, but no matter what you do or how hard you try you just keep going off course.

This change in wind direction is never subtle. One moment you’re sailing along in life, enjoying the breeze and the scenery, then the next moment a gust blows and you find yourself headed in the wrong direction. It’s sudden and completely unexpected, and you feel like there’s nothing you can do about it. Nothing at all.

Adjusting your Sails

Except there is one thing you can do. And that is to accept the wind and not fight against it. Accept the wind for what it is and keep adjusting your sails the best you can. While you seem to be adjusting your sails in vain, you are actually keeping the boat upright. And that’s the best you can hope for at that point: not capsizing or drowning.

When you fight against the winds of change, you struggle so much that you tire easily. When you’re tired you can’t keep the boat upright and you start to drown. This shows up as depression, fatigue, apathy, anger, and other emotions that are not productive over the long haul. It’s ok to dip your toes in these emotions, but drowning in them doesn’t serve you well.

Change in Perspective

But if you stop fighting the wind and adjust your sails just enough to stay upright, you’ll find yourself in a much better place. You won’t use up too much physical or mental energy, and you’ll be in a stronger frame of mind. After the winds die down, which they always do, you’ll be back on course.

Unless you choose the new course the wind has put you on. Usually, when the winds of change blow in new and unexpected directions you find the tropical island of your dreams instead of the destination you initially set out for.

No matter what part of your life is subjected to the change in direction, it’s usually for the best. Even if you can’t see it at first. It’s upsetting and disconcerting to get blown off course, but like the rainbow at the end of a storm the new view is well worth it.

Case Study

To be more specific, say you lose your job. Either you were let go or downsized, but it surely wasn’t your idea and it caught you completely off guard. That’s the big gust of wind that blew you off course.

You fight against it, telling yourself and others that it was a shitty place to work, your boss or coworkers had it out for you, no one ever appreciated you, and on and on. Maybe you’ll file a lawsuit, you say. Really, you’re fighting against the wind. You’re battling against a new direction, trying to get back to exactly where you were. Only it’s impossible.

Depression sets in right around the same time your first unemployment check arrives. Now you’re in your bathrobe all day and showering only occasionally. Food delivery people are the only ones who ever see you anymore, and that’s because they’re paid to. You’re drowning.

Finally your own stench registers in your brain and you stop fighting where you are now. Yes, you lost your job and not on your terms, but you weren’t happy there. You start to see the situation as a blessing in disguise. After a long hot shower you start polishing up your resume and job hunting. Now you’re righting the sails just enough not to capsize and drown.

You have a great interview at a place that is a much better fit for you, and just like that (after the job offer, of course) you’re back on course to being happy with your career. Which is only what you ever wanted, but it took you being blown off course to realize that.

So that’s it: you have a choice. Fight and drown, or surrender and stay upright.

Comments are closed.