Think “kedge” when you make your New Year’s Resolutions

Dennis Sparks

This is the season of good intentions we call “New Year’s Resolutions.” We aspire to acquire new professional habits, exercise more, live more balanced lives, and so on.

In Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy—Until You’re 80 and Beyond authors Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge introduce a goal-setting concept that truly has the ability to make a significant difference in our lives—the “kedge.”

According to Crowley and Lodge, becalmed and threatened sailing ships would load a small anchor (known as a kedge) into a longboat, drop it half a mile away, and “everyone back on the big boat would pull like demons on the line, literally hauling the ship to the anchor.”

Crowley and Lodge use this process, known as “kedging,” as a metaphor and motivational tool for “climbing out of the ordinary, setting a desperate goal, and working like crazy to get there.”

As I think back over the past year or two, a kedge immediately comes to mind.

As a hospice volunteer I helped introduce a new hospice program through which patients and their families would share their life stories, which would be videotaped and given to families on DVDs.

To do so I had to acquire technical skills, including selecting and framing the setting, determining the lighting, and recording the sound. I had to learn how to edit videos and to make high-quality DVDs.

Even more challenging, I had to learn how to encourage and support patients and family members in unpredictable and often emotional once-in-a-lifetime conversations .

When I reflect on the kedges of my life – although I would not have thought of them that way at the time – they all felt risky as they stretched me out of my comfort zone and involved significant, improvisational learning as I responded to new and often unpredictable challenges.

As I began I was aware of the very real possibility and costs of failure. As the work moved forward, I was energized by signs of progress and a growing sense of competency.

As you consider your 2013 resolutions, I encourage you to include a carefully-chosen personal or professional kedge or two among your other goals.

The benefits are likely to be substantial, for both you and for others.

I also encourage you to share your kedges with other readers so that we all might better understand the varied forms they may take.

My best wishes to you for a wonderful 2013!


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