One Year To Go and the Perils of Believing in Yourself

If all goes according to plan, this time next year I’ll be making my final preparations to leave the country and head to La Gomera in the Canary Islands. I need to be at the launch place 2 weeks prior to setting out to sea. We undergo scrutineering of our boats and supplies to ensure that we are fully prepared for our entire journey. Besides that all the teams gather for informational meetings, getting everyone on the same page regarding rules and emergency procedures.

I’ll be doing last minute preparations of my boat, loading up my home on the ocean with all the food I need and all the supplies on my mile long list. Plus, this is the opportunity to fix anything that’s not quite right and do final on-the-water test runs. Then, come December 15th, 2015, weather permitting, we will all take to the starting line and launch ourselves into the middle of the wide open Atlantic Ocean.

To be honest, it’s not quite real for me yet. In my heart I know that I’m going to be doing this, but with one year to go I’m far from being ready. That’s not to say that I can’t get ready. I definitely can get ready within a year. No, the only thing tripping me up is that I have not yet found a major sponsor, or really, any for that matter. It’s not due to rejection so much. Yes, my initial attempt was met with rejection, but it was a weak attempt. Learning from that I’ve spent a bit too much time researching how to make a stronger, more professional attempt. I’ve been reading one blog in particular that I’m totally digging. Power Sponsorship by Kim Skildum-Reid. She’s an Australian sponsorship consultant and has really good advice on a her blog and a book that’s taking way too long to get to me.

There are other teams who are much further ahead than me (and some seemingly “behind”). They have their boats, they’ve already thrown a few fundraising events. And, that’s great for them. It’s inspiring. On the other hand I’ve read multiple stories of teams who have prepared for the race (or independent trips) with only months of preparations. So anything is possible.

Ever since Atlantic Campaigns announced that they are expanding to running their event on an annual basis instead of every two years, the pressure to get ready by 2015 has been lessened. That’s both good and bad. Initially my choice was to either wait and go in 2017 or go full steam ahead for 2015. I opted for the latter. With my dad being sick, but alive and relatively well, I thought it’d be better to include him in this process instead of waiting and running the campaign and journey as a memorial. From my perspective I see no reason to wait. I can get myself prepared in time. I just need to take my big long list, check it off one at a time and voila, there I am pushing off at the starting line. The desire is there, the ability is there, the audacity is there. The only thing missing is the money. Well, not missing really, just not yet in place.

And so, the pressure is off. If I can’t raise enough money to launch in 2015, well, there’s always the next year. This helps me to enjoy this process better and to believe that it’s going to happen no matter what year that may be. Except, I also liked the pressure. The pressure required a strong belief that I could do it this year. It pushed me to make it happen now, no matter what. But, I still believe that it can happen for 2015. I am doing everything I can to line up sponsors and fulfill my financial needs for buying a boat and covering expenses. There will come a time when the decision to delay this journey might need to be made. There are a lot variables: boat, no boat, sponsor, no sponsor, nearly there, no where near. Depending on how far I get and how soon, if I need to then I can move the launch date back to 2016 with no penalty to me from the race organizers. That might be what happens, but for right now I’m going on the assumption that I will be launching in 2015. I might as well try.

So while this blog post is about where I’m at now, one year to race start, in the back of mind I think, it could be two years. And, to be honest, that’s messing with my head a bit. But, that’s what this is all about, isn’t it? I keep saying to everyone I meet that this row is not only physically demanding but, even more so, it is psychologically challenging. Well, that challenge starts from the moment the decision to do this is made. It’s not so much an issue of overcoming fears to psychologically prepare for the hardship of being on the ocean, but believing every day that I can do tasks that I’m really uncomfortable with: marketing, selling, asking for money, and persisting when I have no physical evidence of progress.

The people who have been here before say that the pre-race preparations are actually harder than the race itself. It’s the race before the race. I’d like to believe that that’s not true, that it’ll all fall into place perfectly. And I’m sure it will. But likely not before pushing my beliefs in myself, my psychological capacity to feel good at what may come, and my comfy cozy comfort zone to the edge of annihilation. That’s okay. It’s good practise for what’s waiting for me when I go ahead and row across a friggin’ ocean.

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