As you read this, I'm hard at work getting back on track. Over the past couple of weeks, I've been so busy that I haven't taken care of my boat and tackle they way I usually do. Ordinarily, it takes me no time at all to find anything I might need in my Skeeter, but that wasn't true after a few weeks on the road.
At the Elite event on the Alabama River, I felt like I couldn't find anything at all. That's not good for a professional angler, and it's especially not good for me because it puts me off my game.
But before I set about getting reorganized, I took a couple of days off from the world of bass fishing — no boat, no tackle, no truck, no anything that has to do with professional fishing. I needed the "mental health days" for a couple of reasons.
First of all, I believe everyone needs a break from things no matter how much they love what they do. It's important to recharge your personal batteries and find that balance in your life. I'm the first to admit that real balance isn't always 50/50 between work and the rest of your life. Sometimes it might be 25/75 or 90/10 — whatever works for you — but it can never be 100/0.
Second, a break like that really rekindles the "fire" and passion I have for fishing. I'm more excited about going fishing today than I've been all year ... and that's saying something!
Since my break, I've spent more than four full days just getting organized and handling routine maintenance on my boat and tow vehicle. You might think it shouldn't take four days to get reorganized, and you could be right. But for me, the organization process is about more than just putting everything in its place.
Yes, it starts there — making sure I can lay my hands on any tool, any rod and reel or any lure in a matter of moments — but for me the organization process has an emotional and attitudinal element that can never be replaced by anything else. By spending hours and hours in and around my boat, working on tackle, thinking about fishing and preparing for my next tournament, I get in the proper mindset ... for me, at least.
The reason I got off-track and so disorganized is that I've been busier this year than ever before after winning the Bassmaster Classic. There are more demands on my time and more distractions than I'm used to, and I need to plan for that and work around it. I don't want you to think I mention that as an explanation or excuse because there's no room for excuses in this business and no need for explanations — you either catch 'em or you don't, and I plan to catch 'em.
This year has been a learning process for me. Being the Classic champion is a challenge ... and an absolute blast. I wouldn't trade it for any other experience in the sport.
Life will get as busy as you let it. If you don't take care of your priorities, they're no longer priorities.