“I used to be fierce,” she said. ”I don’t know what happened.”
“I fell into a career I didn’t really want,” he said. ”It’s too late to change now.”
Have you, like my two friends, ever woken up one morning wondering, “How did I get here?”
American philosopher and writer, Henry David Thoreau, said, “Our life is frittered away by detail.” As task oriented people, it’s easy for us to move from one “thing” to the next until we wind up in a place we don’t recognize. Or even like.
It’s “The Drift.” And it can happen to any of us. And it usually happens slowly.
Like a boat tied too loosely to the dock, we can drift away from our moorings. Slowly, slowly, the waves of life rock us, push us, nudge us . . . and eventually the knot pulls out and we drift gradually out to sea. Eventually, we can drift so far out to sea that shore is no longer in sight.
Sometimes we come to and realize we are in a loveless marriage or a thankless job or walking around in a body we no longer recognize.
It hurts to recognize we’ve become something we don’t want to be. And it hurts to recognize that we’ve built a life we don’t want.
Henry David Thoreau also said, “Most men live lives of quiet desperation.” And if you’ve found yourself drifting out to sea, you might just know what ol’ Henry is talking about.
But I’m here to tell you that it is NOT too late to stop the drift. You can reclaim pieces of yourself that you lost somewhere along the way. I know, because I’ve done it. And I’ve coached others to do it, too. These four steps will help you get back your SELF.
Four Steps to Stopping “The Drift”
1) GET CLEAR about what you want. This is step is crucial and it takes time. Set aside time to think about a life you envision. Get creative. Do not think about “how” it will happen, just let it flow. Write it, draw it, sing it . . . do something to FEEL your vision.
2) TAKE SMALL STEPS to make a piece of your vision come to fruition. It’s just as important to envision the end-point as it is to focus in on taking small steps. So many of us create a vibrant vision of some aspect of a life we desire, but then fail to take the first small steps to make it happen. See the end. Take the next step.
3) GET SUPPORT from someone who will be, well, supportive. This person or people should be trusted friends, folks with whom you can be vulnerable without the fear of shame, blame, or judgment. It is courageous to be raw and real with another and it can backfire if you choose the wrong person. Choose wisely. Be open. Explain how you would like them to support your vision and small steps along the way.
4) CHECK IN FREQUENTLY to prevent “The Drift.” I recommend that you actually schedule mini-retreats with yourself to check in on your progress, re-envision your goal, and reinvigorate yourself. If it’s time to tighten your knot so you don’t drift out to see, these frequent check-ins can help you do that. You can schedule weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly retreats at a local coffee shop or somewhere you can relax and focus. Be real and be honest. No excuses. There is NO such thing as “I haven’t had time.” The reality is you haven’t chosen to make time.
Each of these four steps is as crucial as the next. Together, this four step process can help you avoid drifting alone out to sea. You CAN reclaim your life, your self, and your relationships.
You are worth it.
And YOU matter.
How have you been a victim of “The Drift”? And what helped you get back on course?