Know when to quit and when to stick it out
I am reading the book The Dip by Seth Godin. Being successful is about knowing when to quit and when to stick it out. To explain, Godin quotes ultra-marathoner Dick Collins: "Decide before the race the conditions that will cause you to decide to stop and drop out. You don't want to be out there saying, 'Well, gee, my leg hurts, I'm a little dehydrated, I'm sleepy, I'm tired, and it's cold, and it's windy...' and talk yourself into quitting." If you're making a decision based on how you're feeling at that moment, then you will probably make the wrong decision.
The book is aimed towards entrepreneurs, but it has excellent advice that can be applied to any job. When you are mid-season, and you are exhausted, fed-up, irritated, dehydrated and unhappy, you are more emotional than rational. Before you go into the season, you need to outline all the conditions that need to be present for you to quit.
How much time are you willing to put in?
If the choice is between burning out or quitting, it is worthwhile talking to your captain or HoD before you burnout. Yachting involves tremendous hard work and extremely long hours. Efficient time management is crucial.
Having proper SOPs onboard eliminate a lot of double jobs. A good rule of thumb on charter for interior crew is never to have your hands empty. This means when you leave the crew mess, take a pile of laundry to return or folded rags back to a pantry, if you are in a guest area on your way to lunch you can check the pantry for dirty rags, change the bin, or remove any food that needs to go back to the galley.
On deck, make sure you prep things the night before so that in the morning you are all ready to go with water sports. Keeping your lockers organised will also help reduce the time it takes you to find things. Remember to stay hydrated! Exhaustion plus dehydration can lead to nausea, vomiting and collapse.
How much pain are you willing to go through?
Remember that we all get irritated, frustrated and grumpy when tired. We have shorter fuses, tunnel vision and can't see the wood for the trees. Yachting is a fast-paced industry. Just because someone is issuing orders or making a request doesn't necessarily mean that they are being mean, bullying you or attacking you as a person. Try and put yourself in the other person's shoes and understand that they are also stressed. Avoid creating more drama by gossiping about it and talking behind the person's back. That doesn't help anyone; it just adds fuel to the fire and will hurt you too.
If you feel that someone was out of line when talking to you, approach them when things have quietened down and explain how that made you feel and what you need from them in terms of feedback, constructive criticism or advice to support them better. Support goes both ways.
How much money are you willing to lose?
Quitting a job has significant financial implications. Depending on where you are in your career, being unemployed can cost between 500-3,000 EUR a week in both expenses (accommodation, transport, food, phone, 'networking') and lost salary.
Ensure that you have an emergency fund saved up so that you are able to leave a boat unexpectedly and quickly. Keep this in a separate savings account. A good starting point would be to keep at least one-months salary there but again this will depend on your career stage (junior deckhand versus captain), how much it will cost you each week to be unemployed (accommodation is the largest expense so how much you need saved up will depend on whether you have a free or cheap place to stay between jobs).
With non-payment of wages a real issue at the moment it is essential that you raise wage disputes early on and that the whole crew gets on board with this. Do not leave the vessel without getting a written termination letter stating the exact amount of wages owed to you, including leave not taken that needs to be stamped and signed by the captain or employer. This can be used in a court of law and I have had crew successfully seize the vessel for non-payment of wages.
Make a quitting contract with yourself and vow not to quit unless you go beyond those limits because it is really easy to feel overwhelmed when you are in the moment. Write down what is important to you and also try and separate your self worth from anything that happens on the boat.