Amidst the hustle and bustle of one of the busiest places in the world, I have discovered the unexpected pull of my heart toward what I really want.

What I value. What’s important to me.

What makes my eyes sparkle when I speak with a trusted friend.

What sets my soul on fire.

I hadn’t scheduled reflection time for this week, despite the fact that the end of the year is fast approaching. I’ve always been a planner and typically choose my focus for the coming year before the Christmas tree goes up. Over the last five years, I’ve learned that choosing a focus serves as the compass on my travels through life.

What I had planned for this week was a bit of exploration, connecting with colleagues and friends, and getting things done in disciplined chunks. But, as often happens in this thing called life, sometimes we have to set our well-laid plans aside and seize the opportunity the muses present.

And so, surrounded by hustle and bustle and people and noise, I received the gift of a new perspective. I learned to slow down, step outside the frame, and see the big picture.

I want you to imagine your life as a ship.

You can choose to stay in the hold of the ship, where you would be sheltered from storms and able to reflect on your past.

You can choose to stay on the deck of the ship. A few waves might flow over the bow, but on good days there would be calm seas to float upon. Of course, there would also be other days, where you become so ensnared in the chop of the sea that your own rhythm could be lost.

Or, you can take the third option – as I did this week – and climb to the top of the mast.

Climbing to the top of the mast allows you to take a good look around the world. It forces you to step outside of the sheltering frame of the boat, and really see the big picture. Sure, sometimes it’s cold and stormy, full of howling winds, and blanketed with heavy mist. It can even be a bit frightening – full of what-ifs.

Scary as it can seem, the big picture is also a blessing. It’s a view, not only of your life, but of the world all around you. It’s a perspective you can’t get anywhere else. No porthole in the hold or position on the deck will allow you to see so much.

You cannot live life to the fullest if you refuse to look at the big picture.

The mast of the ship isn’t just a 360-degree lookout, though. It’s also the best place to experience a true creative storm for your life plan.

I’m looking forward to sharing with you the results of the creative storm I experienced this week. And I will. Soon. For transparency is important to me.

In the meantime, I challenge you to listen to the muses, put your rubber-soled shoes on, and prepare to climb the mast.

Life’s too short hide in the hold or simply stay on the deck.

So, what about you?  What part of the ship are you spending the most time on?

(Image is Anchors A-Wave by Gil Elvgren)