Sailing is a very interesting sport that requires a lot of skill and knowledge because you use the wind to take you in any direction not just the way it is blowing. It can be a great metaphor for life because often when we want to achieve a particular goal we need to point ourselves in a direction 90 degrees from where we want to go.
I was reminded of my early sailing experiences the other day and it got me thinking about how that relates to working with finances and achieving goals.
When I was 9 and my sister, Shirley, was 11 our family joined a sailing club that operated on a beautiful lake with a relatively large island at the north end. Shirley and I sailed a Dabchick which is a small flat bottomed boat with a mainsail and a jib. We had a huge amount of fun and took part in races every Sunday. Even with a large handicap we came stone last each week, but that didn’t matter to us because we loved the excitement and challenge of navigating the course.  The highlight for me was the huge afternoon tea of cakes and sandwiches because we were ravenous after the afternoon on the water.
Shirley was the skipper and I was the crew.  She was diligent about learning what she could about sailing and quickly became quite skilled. I just did what I was told. We were fascinated by the island and fantasised about what it would be like to visit it. I think we fancied ourselves as characters from Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven. We never did visit the island because we had limited time to finish our races. 
One day we set off to join the other boats on the start line. Close to shore there was a band of water weeds and we needed to take up the dagger board before crossing so that it didn’t get tangled in the weeds. Just after we had crossed the weeds, the wind came up, caught Shirley by surprise and she fell off the boat. I was left on my own speeding across the lake. I tried frantically to come about just as I had seen Shirley do it but to no avail. I didn’t stop until I hit the thick line of rushes that surrounded the Island. I didn’t realise that without the dagger board I couldn’t steer the dabchick no matter how hard I tried.
Luckily my father was out in the patrol boat and he plucked Shirley from the water and came to my rescue. 
What I learned from that is that in order to get where I want to go I need to have the appropriate equipment and the knowledge to use it. Hard work on its own won’t be enough. I also learned that things can happen to the people in charge and the crew need to be prepared for that. As an aside the exciting goal of reaching the island was disappointing because the thick reeds prevented access to it. I learned that sometimes we can be distracted by exciting and new goals, like the island, that take us away from our main goals, like finishing the race.
When we are managing the finances of a business we need systems and procedures to ensure that we stay tracking in the direction of our goals.
We need to make sure that we understand how to use the tools at our disposal to avoid unanticipated consequences. 
It is important to ensure that nobody is indispensable and to have some plans in place in case key personnel are suddenly unavailable. 
Most importantly don’t just go where the wind takes you. Set your goals. Create a plan step by step, much like tacking into the wind, to get you where you want to go. 
You may have to go in the opposite direction for a while but if you follow the plan you know you will reach your destination.