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How to Break Free of the Golden Handcuffs of Yachting


Why on Earth would you want to break free from yachting? You work on board a boat that oozes luxury. You travel to gorgeous destinations. All your daily living expenses are paid for. Your meals are cooked for you by superb chefs. And the recreational opportunities are fabulous.

There is no denying that the perks of working in the superyacht industry are enormously attractive. But we all know working in yachting isn’t all plain sailing, if you’ll forgive the pun. It’s a tough business—physically and, especially, mentally. There has been a lot of attention recently for the problems faced by yacht crews: loneliness, toxic atmospheres on board, lack of support, bullying and isolation due to rank—to name but a few.

Add to this the friction between home life and life on board the yacht, and it’s hardly surprising that crew are less and less fulfilled in their work. Yet many crew, senior crew especially, stay on longer in yachting than they really want to. In fact, they are often pushed out of the industry before they decide to jump themselves.

So what gives? Why do so many crew find it hard to leave yachting under their own steam?

The answer, of course, is the one thing we haven’t mentioned yet. Money. And it’s not even the money itself. It’s the lifestyle the money is supporting. If you stay in yachting long enough, you’ll end up earning a very significant salary. And chances are, you’ll adapt your lifestyle to suit. That’s only human nature.

That’s all fine and good while the work is enjoyable. It’s when the work becomes a mental burden that the pressures really start building. And they’re made all the more acute by the realisation that you are bound to your yachting career by a set of very powerful golden handcuffs. At senior crew level, you’ll be making anywhere between Eur/USD 8,000-25,000 per month. Maybe more and possibly tax free. What job outside of yachting could possibly reward you so richly? For most, the answer is, “None”. So you’re handcuffed by money to an industry you no longer love.

How to free yourself from the golden handcuffs of yachting

There is a saying that most problems contain their own solution. That’s true here as well.

What’s keeping you in yachting is your relationship with money—the very same thing that will get you out of yachting. In other words, money is keeping you in yachting; money will get you out of it. If you can adjust your relationship with money, you can leave yachting on your terms and step into a far more satisfying life.

Unfortunately, what is true of problems is also true of solutions. Most solutions contain their own set of problems. (The universe does like a sense of balance, doesn’t it?) Here is what you are up against:

  1. Your current relationship with money is likely one in which your spending is high. A high standard of living at home usually means big outgoings. In fact, it’s not uncommon for outgoings to be completely in harmony with your income, gobbling up your entire salary, regardless of how much you are earning. There is a bucket full of reasons why this is the case. We don’t need to go into them here
  2. You have to shift from a spending pattern to a pattern of saving and investing. You already figured that bit out. And you also know it isn’t easy. If your spending is high, there are only two ways to free up money for investing: (a) spend less or (b) earn more. Option (a) isn’t appealing and option (b) might not even be possible. So you’re stuck where you are
  3. You might need to change your mindset altogether. This is where it gets interesting, because you may have to challenge how you see success. In essence, you’ll have to shift from focussing on how you spend your money to focussing on how you spend your time. Success becomes about what you do with your time, not what you accumulate with your money. And with that comes the realisation that you can always make more money, but you can never make more time.

Time is the most precious thing you have.
And you don’t know how much of it you’ve got.

How to buy yourself time

While you can’t make more time, you can spend a larger share of the time you have left on things that fulfil you. If yachting no longer appeals to you, you’ll have to transition into something that does. Because once you do, you’ll probably find the desire to maintain a luxury lifestyle wanes. The fulfilment comes from enjoying your time, not your money.

People often say they want to be a multi-millionaire (or billionaire). But if you ask them what appeals to them about having a lot of money, you’ll quickly learn that while they might list fast cars and luxury homes to begin with, what they really crave is being in control of their time. People want the freedom to do what fulfils them. They want independence from the priorities of an employer. And you don’t really need to be a multi-millionaire to do that. You just need to be financially independent. Financial independence puts you in a position to buy a larger share of your remaining time for yourself—if not all of it.

The key to the cuffs is financial independence

Financial independence doesn’t come easily. You have to work for it. We’ve written about that here: How to Build Your Life after Yachting in 10 Steps. But to save you a round trip there and back, here’s the short version.

To achieve financial independence you need:

  1. A goal. Not, as you might imagine, a financial goal—not to start with, anyway. First, you need to know what a fulfilling life for you looks like.
    A deadline. Without a deadline, nothing will happen. You’ll keep putting it off. And then, one day, it will be too late. So pick a date by which you must achieve your goal
  2. Money. Once you know what your goal is, you can figure out how much money you will need to live a life of fulfilment.
    A plan. Next you’ll need to plot a financial course that will take you to that amount of money. You’ll have to put together a savings and investment programme.
  3. Action. This is where most people fail. They don’t follow through on their plan. There are so many reasons. (We’ve created this dedicated programme to keep you on course: The YFSOL Partnership.)

Here’s some motivation

You have a very stark choice.

You can break free of the golden handcuffs of yachting, or you can have the cuffs taken off you.

In other words, you can leave yachting on your terms, or you can be shown the door when the industry is done with you.

Either way, you are leaving yachting. There is nothing you can do about it. All you can do is decide the manner of your exit.

Get in touch today and start your journey towards your ideal independent life:

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