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I Was My First Client: A Real-Life Example

May 23, 2023

This past winter, I returned from a sailing trip to the Bahamas as a crew member with a desire to do more sailing – and now I have bought a boat to live aboard!

Let me tell you how I got here.

My recent interest in water activities included wing-foiling, standup paddle boarding, and dinghy sailing, as most of my adult life I focused on endurance athletic events and was only occasionally a day-sailing enthusiast. I had limited interest in extended sailing due to a concern over feeling claustrophobic and sedentary sailing offshore. The ever-present distractions from other aspects of life always seemed to present themselves, anyway.

My son's birth was a significant moment in my life, and I chose to prioritize that over sailing as crew from Manchester by the Sea in Massachusetts to the Azores. Similarly, when presented with the opportunity to participate in a passage across the Indian Ocean, my hyper-rational voice spoke up to remind me of my day-to-day responsibilities, the risks of being so far offshore and that I, as a novice would be more of a burden than a contributing participant.

This voice of "reason" was no stranger to me. Over the years it had cautioned me about pursuing other business opportunities, such as a promotion to the marketing department or an advanced degree in user interface design, to save me from harm. When I began to realize this voice was also holding me back from new experiences, I saw a pattern of missed opportunities and delayed experiences. While the voice kept me safe, it was slowly draining the life out of me.

I remained a corporate project manager long after the role’s newness and challenges had worn off, fearing earlier mistakes of changing companies, being laid off, and college tuition bills. Eventually, after about 20 years, I’d had enough and knew I needed to make a change. I knew I wanted to create a happy and satisfying life for myself.

This realization prompted me to start listening to a different voice inside me, the one that asked, "What if?" and acknowledged that the risks of exploring my interests could be mitigated.

This is when I became my own first client. I stopped committing to a specific objective or destination and instead explored different paths to a destination. I learned to notice what interested me and to learn more about it. If my interest continued to grow, then I would try a little more. I used my internal emotional meter as feedback on what to pursue and for how long. If my interest waned, it was a signal to move on to something else. I learned to pursue those choices that moved the needle in a positive direction.

Now, I am using all the skills I learned to successfully do my job and pursue activities that give me fulfillment.

I am in the final weeks of preparing a 1981 33’ Tartan Ocean Cruiser for launching and living aboard. I will be learning to sail and going to sleep to the sounds and movement of the ocean, while working with my clients from my boat. This is my first boat, and I have less than three years of sailing experience. I am excited about this change of residence on the ocean and plan to head south in September.

All of this became possible by connecting to and learning to listen to my internal emotion meter and quieting my hyper-rational voice. There are many risks in what I am choosing to do; there is a lot of work that could be avoided if I stayed in the familiar. However, I am excited about this new chapter in my life and am willing to take the chance. Who knows where I will be a year from now, but I will be able to say that I tried.