When I first moved to Dixon, I bought a boat from Don Lovett. It was just the right size for my family and me. In addition, the price was right. However, before I could take the family fishing or skiing in my new boat, I had to learn how to back the trailer down the steep slope of the public ramp and how to operate the boat once I got it into the water. Patiently, Don showed me all that I needed to learn including how to get the water out of the bottom of the boat that accumulates while boating. Unless you were a boater, you won't know this boating tip. If you were on the Rock River and you want to drain the water that accumulates in the bottom of the boat while skiing, all you have to do is drive the boat at a moderate speed and unscrew the drain plug in the floor of the boat. The water is sucked out. Then you replace the drain plug, and you have a dry boat once again.

Three decades have passed since Don taught me the lesson of the drain plug. Recently, I used his lesson while talking with one of my clients. He said that he felt like he was sinking into an emotional abyss and drowning in lethargy. No matter where he looked in his life, he was sinking. His job wasn't going anywhere, his relationship with his wife wasn't good for either of them, and he was mired down in depression. After talking about these concerns, we developed a game plan to deal with his malaise. The following are some ideas that you might wish to incorporate in your life especially if you are in an emotional malaise like my client.

  1. Chart a course. Determine where you want to go in life. Then decide what is needed to get you there. If you aren't satisfied with the level of your education or training, determine what must be done to reach your educational goal.
  2. Make momentum work for you. Henry Ford said, "You can believe you can or you can believe you can't, either way you will be correct." Start your midcourse correction with the assumption that you will be successful. Suppose you are concerned about your state of health, positive momentum is essential if you plan to get back on track physically. Believe that in a few months, you will be where you want to be. Imagine what you will feel and look like when you obtain your goal; it will motivate you to get started and to stray on track.
  3. Take a chance. To rid yourself of the accumulated sludge of life, get your life into gear and unscrew the plug. Physics will work for you-trust me. While unscrewing the drain plug may seem a foolhardy thing to do while in the middle of the Rock River, it is the most effective and quickest way to get the water out of the bottom of the boat. The same is true for you life. Suppose you want to try to move up to another position at your place of work. Assume that you will get the promotion. Go for it. Take a chance. Believe in yourself. If you don't believe in yourself, why would you assume someone else would?
  4. Tell others about your plans. One of the sure ways of accomplishing the seemingly impossible is to tell others about your goals. This does several things. It will push you to achieve your goals, because you won't want to look like a failure. Announcing to others will help you achieve your goals because those that know about your plans can provide ideas about how to reach your goal that you might not have considered. For example, if you want to retire early or build a summer home on a lake, others know of your plan. They will help you stay focused and may provide you with ideas with which you might not have thought.

Even though, few of you will be boating on the Rock River until the spring of the new millennium, remember Don's lesson about the drain plug. It will do more good for you than merely keeping your boat dry.

This article first appeared in the Dixon Telegraph on November 4, 1999.