Sucked into another season?

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Q: Andrea, Chief Stewardess, 38:

“I promised myself I wouldn’t do another season in yachting, but somehow summer’s practically here and I’ve made no move whatsoever to leave the yacht I’m on. I know yachting doesn’t make me happy anymore—it’s been mostly great but I’m in my late 30’s now and it’s really wearing thin on me and I need a better work-life balance. I don’t know if it’s fear holding me back, as I’ve got some ideas but no solid plan for what I want to do next. I’ve been in yachting fifteen years— I finished university and then fell straight into yachting so I don’t have a professional career behind me. Somedays I think I should just do another year or two for the money, and other days I get frustrated at not taking any action – I’m starting to feel like my life is slipping through my fingers and I don’t have a handle on it. My brain is a constant rollercoaster at the moment as I try and make a decision. Do you have any advice on how to get out of yachting in a way that sets me up professionally for the next stage of my life?”

A: The Crew Coach:

Great question, and one that I think a lot of crew can identify with. I was recently laughing with a friend of mine about that old film Groundhog Day – where Bill Murray gets trapped in an endless cycle living the same day over and over with no escape until he learns the life lessons and achieves the personal growth he needs in order break the spell. It’s not at all unlike Groundhog Season – the phenomenon you’re talking about, which affects so many yacht crew after a few years, and one that definitely got me in the end!

It’s not surprising you’re finding yourself hesitating and agonising over your decision, as you’ve been in the yachting industry the majority of your adult life, which means leaving it will be a big step out of your comfort zone. I’m a great believer in expanding your comfort zone through stretching yourself with new challenges and experiences, and I think the fact you recognise yachting has run its course for you is a clear indicator that change is on the horizon.

While this is all very easy to say, you have some work to do first. It’s even possible that the best course of action is to stay in yachting until you have worked through the process of setting up your transition to land a little more thoroughly.

If you quit now with no solid plan of what to do next, there’s a good chance you’ll just fritter away the summer, churning through your savings, or perhaps getting into a job you don’t really want because you’re lacking clear direction. I promise you (from my own personal experience and that of countless clients who have come to me for help with this), there’s no quicker way to end up straight back in yachting – but with a sadder looking bank balance!

You say you’ve got some ideas but no clear plan, which is probably one of the reasons you are reluctant to act. Our brains are actually hard wired to protect us from uncertainty and risk, so this is very natural. In order to get some clarity and purpose about your plan to leave yachting, the first step is to try and drill down into what you really want out of life.

Brainstorm. What do you value? Why? What do you think will make you happy, and give you a sense of achievement when you look back on your life? What core talents do you have? Take the free Genius test and Passion test on Genius U
here for a great initial insight into these.
Fit your career to your values. Once you’ve established your values and core skills, look at the career ideas you already have and see how they fit with those values. If they don’t fit, don’t be afraid to start again. You’ve got a stable job, so you have no need to feel rushed or stressed while reaching your decision.
Come up with a strategic plan on how you’re going to achieve your new career goals. One great starting point is to look at a current job advertisement for something you’re interested in, and check out what skills and qualifications are required. What will you need in order to apply for a job like that? Which courses might help? What kind of experience is required?
Consider how your yachting skills can transfer to the ‘real world’. Will non-yachting employers take your yachting credentials seriously or just say, ‘Well that superyacht life must have been very glamorous’? Because we know this way of thinking is common outside yachting, you need to be uber-prepared to sell yourself in a way that landlubbers understand. Attention to detail, discretion, and the ability to follow orders and cope with high-stress situations are all extremely desirable skills, so it’s your job to make these attributes shine to employers.
Get your finances in order. For many, the most frightening aspect of leaving yachting is leaving that lovely disposable income behind. However, we sometimes forget there are plenty of people earning a lot of money on land—and that we can be one of those people if we just plan our careers right. Perhaps you’re actually ok with earning less money, but the key is in knowing how long the money you have now will last, and how to get it to work for you. A discussion with a financial adviser is a great course of action here to feel like you’re in control of your money. It will also help to have a budget you stick to while looking for work when you do move ashore.
Have a discussion with a recruiter, career coach or business mentor. Things start to feel exciting (and possible!) when you talk to qualified people about your plans. If you’re planning to enter the workforce, schedule a chat with a professional so you can find out what’s out there, what it will pay, and what you’ll need to do to become a sought-after candidate. If you’re thinking of setting up a business or becoming a freelancer, then you’ll need some business advice. As a trained business consultant this is also something I can help you with.
This a very brief outline of the steps you need to take but I’ve also written a whole series about Breaking Free from Yachting’s Golden Handcuffs for www.onboardonline.com where I go into great detail about how to nail your passion, so check that out for further information. And if you want to have a chat with me about how I can help you make your decisions and get clarity, focus and direction much faster, jump in and book a complimentary 30 minute Career Breakthrough session with me HERE.

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