Message in a bottle

Imagine you have woken up to find you are on a desert island. There’s nothing at all on this island – no structures, no trees, no birds, no animals, no people.

‘Wow! What do I do now?’ you wonder as the sea laps gently at your feet. You sit and gaze at the horizon. Nothing there either. Hmm. Suddenly you notice the sunlight glinting off something bobbing in the surf a few metres away. You jump up and wade out to it – what is it? A bottle! And there’s something in it – a message in a bottle! Right there, up to your middle in the sea, you yank out the cork and unfurl the message.

‘Dear reader’ it says. ‘Welcome to your island. Yes, that’s right – it’s your island. That’s why there’s nothing there yet – it’s been waiting for your arrival. Use the rest of this sheet to design your island and place your order for ten things you require to make it the perfect place for you to live. Basic shelter, sanitation and food will be provided as standard but you may supplement these in any way you like. List the scenery, list any companions or activities you require. Return the paper to the bottle and throw it back in the sea. Your order will be delivered immediately.’

So now it’s over to you. Draw your island (thankfully, they provided a pencil) and start designing. What’s on your map? You know you’ve got a basic shelter but do you want more than that? A tree house? (Don’t forget the trees then!) A palace? A wigwam? What about people? Friends? Family? Partner? What will you do all day? Work? Doing what? Study? Play tennis? How about food? Do you want more than fish and coconuts? Make sure you’ve used all ten slots on the order form.

Your map is complete, your island fully stocked with all you need. Having returned your order to the sea, you sit and wait for it all to arrive. Expectation builds as you wait to see a container ship approaching and your goods are off-loaded onto the beach.

Instead you see another bottle bobbing back towards you … what’s that? It looks like your map. You grab the bottle, pull out the map and see a sticky note on it with a message from the suppliers – ‘Dear reader, we now realise that we can only ship five items on your order. Please re-evaluate your requirements, selecting the top five items for a happy life here on your island. Amend the map and return.’

Oh. Only five items. What will you give up? The ski lodge? The university? The endless supply of shoes? Some of your friends – maybe just keep your best friend? The crate of vegetable and fruit seeds? The scuba kit? Your cat? Take another look at your map and choose the top five items.

Today’s pebble: aside from the ‘must-haves’ of shelter, sanitation and food, what are your top five ‘like-to-haves’ and why?

Have fun designing your island!


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching. 

If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we could work together?

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3 Responses to Message in a bottle

  1. Roger Martini says:

    I like this sort of challenge! It pares down what I think is essential from merely desirable. It focuses me on what I truly value rather than what is simply convenient. What would my five like-to-haves be? First is my soulmate. After her, I am struggling to decide where my priorities are. (That it is a struggle is interesting too!) What would I be happy living with and unable to change for the rest of my life on the island? (I’m assuming this is not a holiday, so I can’t just bear with my choice for a week ’til I come home.) I’m concluding this is choice is more about my character and attitude than what is joining me on the sand…

  2. Pingback: Island life | Turning over pebbles

  3. Pingback: Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine | Turning over pebbles

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