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I stood there with the club in my hand grimacing at the shot I had just made. I tried my best to knock the dimples off that golf ball and it went nowhere near where I wanted it to go. My buddy Robert said “it is almost 500 yards and a par 5, you don’t have to get it all in one swing”. He knew I had pushed too hard and screwed up and flat sure called me on it. It is a major problem I have seemed to develop through the years and it affects all areas of life. Go shopping and come back with 36 bags of groceries? Yep, I will try to carry all of them in one trip. If we go pick up some flowers to plant I won’t stick to one spot at a time I get enough to plant the whole yard: twice.
It is very easy to get overwhelmed when I am left to my own devices. I often have to pause and force myself to focus on one part of a task instead of getting inundated in the whole. From what I read on various kayak forums, a lot of folks tend to have the same issues. When paddlers are just starting out it can be very easy to get so caught up in the gear and learning that you can lose focus on the fun. Here are a few tips to keep from getting snowed under.
1. Ask folks who have made the decisions already. Jackson Kayak has a really good resource called “Ask the Pros” that allows folks to ask questions about kayaks and gear. We are not all “pro” but most of us have screwed up enough and learned lessons we can pass on. In social media groups there are usually people who are willing to assist with questions. I have even seen multiple offers to meet and let others try out gear just to point people in the right direction.
2. Go to a dealer demo day. This will allow you to paddle boats, try gear and converse with like-minded paddlers. Lots of time promotional staff members will be on site as well and will be able to talk about the different aspects of the sport you are interested in. This is an excellent opportunity to test the waters without going “all in”.
3. Remember one bite at a time. As you begin your journey, don’t try to do or learn everything at once. Work on certain parts of the individual discipline that you are interested in. If you are a whitewater paddler, work on rolling or a certain trick that you want to perfect. If you are a recreational paddler, work on a more efficient paddle stroke or learn how to “edge” your kayak. Fishing kayakers can work on stealthy paddling, standing or work on a specific technique that they want to perfect.

It is frustrating to get overwhelmed with a sport that should be a lot of fun. Don’t let it get to that point. Slow down, take a deep breath, and focus on small aspects of the discipline you are working on. Just remember, you don’t have to learn it all in one trip!