My wife Samantha and I love the sea. We try to boat, sail, or generally get into the salt water as much as we can. We recently had an opportunity to spend a week on the island of Antigua (we were scouting for a 2020 sailing trip) and we did a lot of snorkeling. We were staying at a condo booked via AirBnB, and there was a lovely beach right below our villa. We had snorkeled there several times and it was just lovely. There was also a path (a relatively short walk) that took us over to another bay about a hundred yards away. So one morning, we decided to take our snorkeling gear to the other bay and snorkel around the peninsula to our beach.
We checked to make sure we would not be facing any inclement weather, and all was good, so off we set. We entered the water in the other bay and started our way around. Within about 30 minutes, we were completely surrounded by jellyfish. We hadn’t factored that into our plans! We had also failed to check a map to see just how far a trip it was if you were swimming. What was about a hundred yards via land turned out to be about a mile of coastline. To top it all off, we were swimming against the current. It was just a bad deal all around.
As someone who writes and speaks about the need to strategically plan, I did a particularly poor job on this snorkeling event. First, I could have consulted a map, and if I had, I would have seen that the land jutted way out and would be a much farther swim than we anticipated. I also could have ascertained the direction of the current. We could have started from our beach and swam the other direction and it would have been an infinitely easier swim. Not sure I could have done anything to know about the jellyfish convention, but luckily they were the non-stinging kind and not really that much of a nuisance.
After we rounded a huge piece of rock jutting down into the sea and discovering that we were not at our beach (as we suspected) but only about half way, we decided to get out and walk back. Gingerly stepping on sharp rocks and carefully planning our steps, we made it safely back to our beach, a bit wiser for the effort. We could have continued swimming, but we were realistic about our fitness and ability to make the swim successfully.
You might not always plan ahead as carefully as you should. If that should happen, don’t compound your error by doggedly continuing down a dangerous path. Your next strategic decision does not need to be negatively affected by your previous one. Remember, the past has a vote but not a veto!