Do you know what you want? Not just what you think you want, but what you actually want. It’s easy to get lost in the idea of something without fully understanding the reality of it. It’s easy to think you want to sail around the Caribbean, drinking margaritas and living the pirate life. Or maybe you’d rather live in an off-grid cabin in the woods away from society, growing a garden in the summer and hunting for your food all winter. Each one of those lives have a cost and truthfully are far more physically demanding than that nice house in a quiet neighborhood with an annoying HOA. So, choose what you want carefully. I’ve met plenty of boat owners who were quite content living on their boat in a marina somewhere, tinkering away on it. Years go by and the evenings are spent sitting with their boat neighbors, drinking wine and talking about all the places they’re going to go someday. They never leave the dock and that’s okay. That’s where they found their balance between horizon and home. They found their place and they found their people and that’s enough for them.

If you remember from the discussion on the narrative arc, that the moment the protagonist makes a choice to pursue something then conflict immediately presents itself as an opposing force. If there is a dragon to slay, you’re going to have to knock off a few ogres before you get there. This conflict is the refiner’s fire that forces the protagonist to become stronger and determines the value of the treasure pursued.

Earlier I discussed that boats are mission oriented. A sailboat may be great for the open ocean but it’s useless running the rapids at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. If you’re going to build a better boat, you need to know where you plan to take it and how you plan to use it. My first sailboat I used on a small lake to learn how to sail. My second boat I used for short trips near the coast. My current boat is for crossing oceans. For each boat, came different needs. Each building on what I had learned from the previous.

So, whatever boat you’re building, you’re going to need to decide where you’re going so you’ll know what it needs.

What’s great about a sailboat on the ocean is that its current form has been refined from centuries of sailing and the lessons learned by sailors and boat designers of what works and what doesn’t. Everything about its shape and structure was designed to work with both the wind and water in harmony. To be strong where it needs to be strong, to track well so you’re not constantly fighting to stay on course. To be able glide through the waves and stay upright both in rough conditions and smooth seas. To work with the ocean and not against it. Harmony instead of dissonance.

You should strive to build your own “boat” to operate in the same way. When young Theodore Roosevelt’s father told him that he needed to make his body, the boy started lifting weights and learning to box. He was increasing his muscle mass, strengthening his asthmatic lungs and learning not just how to take a punch, but also give as good as he got. His physical strength increased as well as his emotional resilience. The wealth of his family ensured that if he wanted to live a life of ease, sheltered from the outside world he certainly could have. But that wasn’t the life he wanted and so he had to build a boat capable of sailing rougher seas.

When his mother and wife both died on the same day and he went west to the Dakotas, he did so to expose himself to some of the harshest conditions and people available, because as tough as he was, he wasn’t that tough. He needed to go into the wilderness to find the strength to slay that dragon. It should also be noted, that as a rancher he failed after a brutal winter killed off his entire herd. Financially, the entire endeavor was a disaster. However, it was there that he found his place and his people and then built a new boat capable of sailing the harshest waters. When he returned, people didn’t really know what to do with him. He was this strange combination of New York high society and frontier cowboy. But as the assassination attempt showed, he also seemed to be bullet proof.