The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Patching Cracks


March 13, 2019

Before ships had engines to power their forward movement, they relied on sails and wind to move across the large bodies of water. Occasionally, they would hit stretches where no wind blew to help them move.

When this happened, they would employ a ‘kedge’ to move to windier stretches of water. A kedge is an anchor. Sailors would carry the kedge ahead of the ship, drop the anchor, then the sailors aboard the ship would pull it to the anchor. The process would be repeated over and over until they reached areas where the wind blew. Last fall,

I read an interesting idea regarding these ‘kedges’ and pushing yourself to do better. The author argued that if we are to improve as people, sometimes we have to pull ourselves forward. The author used the example of entering into a race he wasn’t prepared to run.

He knew he only had a few months to prepare, so he pushed himself extra hard until he was ready to run. Setting hard goals that we must strain to achieve are a good way to force ourselves to improve. One of the problems with setting self improvement goals is that they often don’t have a hard deadline.

A few years ago, I set out to write a book. It took me 2 years to publish it, and I’m quite proud of having accomplished my goal. This year, I am trying to finish 2 books. I am not sure I can do it, but pushing myself to hit that goal is a big deal. Another kedge I have at the moment is a race I entered for later this year. I don’t feel that prepared to run a race, but I have a few months to get ready.

Having a starting date forces me to get ready. I often talk to folks who want to do better at some area in their lives. They want to learn an instrument, read more books, become more educated in some area, go back to school, or some other area where they want to grow.

These things often don’t happen because it’s easier to wish for something to change than for us actually to change. This is the power of setting ambitious goals and striving to hit them. Mind you, as a starting point modest goals are important for starting new things.

If I haven’t ever played piano, setting a goal to practice an hour a day is a reasonable goal. A kedge is a goal you set once you’ve started and really want to improve. I know runners who choose to run several marathons a year to force themselves to train.

I have a friend who enrolled in college classes because she knew that it would force her to learn. It’s easy to hope for excellence in some area of our lives, but sometimes it takes genuinely pushing ourselves in some way to reach our goal.


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