Looking Down: One of my favorite outdoor activities is kayaking. Not the kayaking on a river with class four rapids, but the type where you’re just relaxing and paddling to get around a lake or reservoir, to see the flora and fauna, and really just to enjoy and to soak in nature. I’m not new to kayaking but I’m far from a pro. My 10-foot kayak is one where you sit all on top, so your legs and feet are exposed.
In learning to kayak I recall always looking down at my feet and only occasionally glancing up to see where I was going. Getting the kayak to go in a straight line or to follow the shoreline, with my goal of getting around the body of water was haphazard. Sure I’d paddle and could “kind of” steer, but it wasn’t efficient and I would end up not really going where I wanted to go. I was always off course, and either a bit too far left or too far right. Still I kept paddling mostly looking down at my feet. I eventually got to where I wanted to go, but it wasn’t very elegant or efficient. Not that that really mattered as when I’m on my kayak I’m just having fun. Still it was a bit frustrating that my technique wasn’t at least improving. Why couldn’t I paddle in a straight line or follow the shoreline to reach my goal (for example, padding all the way around a reservoir)?
Voiceover Application: When setting goals, be it personal or voiceover (career) specific, I feel it’s important to know where you want to go rather than doing things haphazardly. One moves forward one step at a time. Business goals (at least in my experience) are obtained one step at a time too. Let’s say one of your goals is to connect with two new clients and get two new voiceover gigs/projects. Great! You have a specific goal. But if you just look down at your computer’s keyboard or at your phone (like looking down at my feel while paddling in my kayak) no forward movement occurs. Your eyes might be on your computer screen or phone, but if you’re just looking down at/scrolling through your social feed and looking at adorable baby animal pictures you’re not moving forward with your goals. It might “seem” like you’re getting something done, and the time certainly flies but, let’s be real and honest…nothing is really getting done to help move your business forward. There might be a little horizontal movement (a bit left and/or a bit right just like with the kayak analogy), but you’re really just standing still. That email or follow-up email isn’t going to write itself. That phone call or follow-up call isn’t going to make itself. In the case of voiceover, that audition isn’t going to record itself. You get the idea.
Better Steering: Meanwhile back at the kayak and after several years of paddling, it didn’t occur to me until this kayaking season (2021) that when I started to look up and out/forward when I was paddling that I was going forward faster and more efficiently! Well, duh, that makes total sense. When you drive a car or ride a bike you don’t look “down” at your feet, you look up and out to continue in a forward direction. Forward is great, but some of the nice things about a kayak are there’s no motor (quiet) and it is relatively small so you can follow the shoreline, perhaps see some water fowl and other critters, and see some pretty cool rock formations and plants. In order to do this, you’ve got to be able to turn. The same premise applies for turning as when you’re paddling in a straight line. Look up and forward at your goal, not down at your feet, and paddle in the direction of your goal. It’s amazing how this stuff works! I have no clue why it took me so long to figure this out. Perhaps it’s because I don’t consider myself an athlete whatsoever, and my eye-hand coordination isn’t the best. No matter, as I did figure it out and it has made me a better, more confident kayaker.
Better Business/Career Steering: Now back to your career/personal goals. How’s that email coming along? Did you make that phone call yet?
Admittedly, no one may answer your call right away. No one may respond to your email on your first try. Believe me, I can relate. But…they might! It might not be right away, and it might take several follow-up calls and emails, but you won’t know unless you look up and forward (not down) and take action steps to steer you toward your goals.