EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Since not all of the members of The FENG are sailors, I really need to start this editorial with the idea that you can’t sail directly into the eye of the wind. In fact, you generally have to be about 45 degrees off the wind to make any headway. However, this is only a real nuisance at those times when the wind is blowing from where you want to go. Sailing as close as you can to the eye of the wind is called being “hard on the wind.”

As exhilarating as sailing hard on the wind may be to us die-hard sailors, it has an entirely different effect on those who are only putting up with your hobby. You see, when you are hard on the wind the boat is well heeled over and you sort of have to hang on for dear life, especially if you are also in a stiff breeze. Add to this the effect of wind and tide being opposed and you can really have some “fun” with waves breaking over the deck. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? (Well, not to everyone, I guess.)

What brought all of this to mind was a note I received from one of our members about when do you decide to lower your sights? If you have been at your job search for a long time, how do you decide when to redirect your efforts? When do you compromise? Is the real story here that you have just been heading off in the wrong direction?

As opposed to being hard on the wind, running downwind or on a broad reach is a totally different experience. The boat is almost flat. You can go below and use the facilities if you have to without falling down. And, things aren’t falling out of the cabinets.

(Directly downwind is called “wing on wing.” A broad reach is where the wind is coming from behind you from the right or left side. I know you will find all these sailing terms helpful at your next job interview, and that is why I am providing them.)

If you talk to two sailors who have arrived at the same harbor from opposite directions, for the reasons described above, they will have very different stories to tell about what kind of sailing day it was. If they were hard on the wind all day, they will tend to be a little beat up. If they have been broad reaching all day, the stories will most likely be about what a pleasant day it was. Same body of water, same day — different stories.

The truth is you don’t have to sail hard on the wind unless you choose to. There are always other harbors to which you can head. You can change your plans. Hey, sailing (and life) is supposed to be fun!

I think that is the question we all need to examine as we set a course for the next leg of our journey through the world of work. Do we really need to sail hard on the wind? Is the course we have set even where we want to go? And, have we really given it enough thought?

If the ship of your life doesn’t seem to be making any distance over ground, perhaps it is time to let your sails out a little bit and head off downwind for a while. Perhaps doing so will allow you to pull yourself back on a proper course. Is that destination you have set for yourself attainable given the realities of your work history and willingness to make sacrifices in your life? Perhaps the truth is that you have set yourself on an impractical course or at least one harder than you need to take.

As financial folks we tend to come to our decisions through careful analysis. Once our mind is made up, it is often hard to change our direction. The fact that our chosen approach isn’t working is slow to dawn upon us.

How to decide? Well, I think you need to turn to friends to talk. What you are doing may be absolutely right for you. After talking it through with those you trust you may decide to stay the course. On the other hand you may decide it is time to alter course.

Remember, sailing hard on the wind isn’t required. (And, just like banging your head against a wall, it does feel good when you stop.)

Regards, Matt

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