What do you need to do when you’re fish-tailing in a skid?
You know that heart-stopping panic that fills you with ice water… the kind when you’re driving along and suddenly, you’re in a skid. Your car fish-tails back and forth, back and forth, spitting gravel or spinning on ice. Visions of a rather messy and imminent death flash through your mind.
Your stomach flips as adrenalin floods your taut body. You grip the wheel in white-knuckled terror and you could swear your mouth is filled with cotton balls.
Those seconds hang like years, and you’re sure you’ve lost a few off your life after this too-close call that leaves you shaken and trembling at the side of the road.
Growing up in Western Canada where the weather can be brutal and outrageously extreme, I learned how to drive in some pretty vicious conditions. There’s nothing like plowing through tons of snow on several inches of solid ice with a raging snowstorm obscuring your vision — by night.
Many of Canada’s country roads are gravel, which can send you into a nasty skid and land you in the ditch in as big a hurry as that ice under your wheels will do. This can make your vehicle roll or flip if the ditch drops down from the road and — well, you might not come back from that…
What makes it worse is the instinct that makes some people crank the steering wheel in the direction of the skid. A big no-no!
At least as problematic is when people find themselves staring at whatever they’re trying to avoid. Another vehicle, a wall, a sharp embankment that drops off and will send them plummeting below and into a raging river…
Why? Because we have a natural inclination to follow what we’re staring at.
I “came out of the chute” in the middle of a sharp skid, born to a frightened young teen with no family support. After a time was taken from her and adopted into yet another skid.
Much of my life was spent fish-tailing back and forth, back and forth, every heart-stopping moment cranking the wheel hard in the opposite direction of that skid. I was doing my best to stay focused on the road and not on the ditch, the wall — or too many times, the cliff above the river.
I was not always successful. In fact, I was very unsuccessful on far too many occasions — and for far too many years.
With the passage of time and continued practice and focus, the skids are now a lot fewer and farther in between. They don’t usually land me in the ditch anymore either because I’ve learned to stay focused on the road.
And if you don’t already know how to do it, you can learn, too.
Step 1: Envision your future
No matter how challenging your life is right now, think about what you want for the future. What kind of life do you want to create? What goal(s) do you want to achieve? Knowing where you’re going can help to keep you from slamming into a wall or going off a cliff.
Step 2: Bring in the memories
Put together a collage or collection of photos, drawings, symbols, or anything that represents that life, that picture you’ve got of the future you’re creating. It can be on your phone or in a scrapbook or journal, it could even be a bullet-point list with no images at all.
Take your time with this process; it should be fun, not a chore. Load it up with happy, excited, positive energy so when you see it, it lights you up.
Step 3: Go deep
Every time you feel yourself focusing on the skid and the ditch, or the cliff with the river at the bottom, haul out your photos or your journal and spend a few minutes with it. Close your eyes and take a few moments to go deep and do a little “let’s pretend” about it. Make it feel as real as you can.
Be sure to spend 5–10 minutes a day — preferably twice a day — looking at your images or reading your list and envisioning yourself being in that life already.
The short version:
Stay focused on your goals and the vision you have for your future. One thought at a time, whenever you notice yourself focusing on what you don’t want, or on what you fear, or on how bad things are, STOP. Crank that wheel hard in the opposite direction and if you’re staring at a ditch or a tree, get your eyes back on the road and keep them there.
This article has been reprinted with permission from Angel RIBO’s LinkedIn page.