7 Ways to Overcome Drifting through Life

“So my buddy told me that you think drifting through life is a ‘lesser loser life.’  He told me I needed to come see you because you would blow me the hell out of this drifting thing. He went through your Coach Training program, and he said you have no tolerance for people who live that way.“

Although I appreciated the referral from my Coach graduate, I’m not sure I would want to be known as anyone who was intolerant, or someone who blows people the hell out of anywhere! LOL. I told my new client that, and informed him that I did not have any sticks of TNT available, but I would be glad to help him get out of drifting through life.

I love what Michael Hyatt says about drifting. He says that if we don’t take charge of our lives, we are drifting. And “drifting will rarely take us to a destination that we would have otherwise chosen.”

So very true. And although I’ve never labeled it a “lesser loser life,” it is true that drifting precludes a joyful, fulfilled life. The life of abundance we are all meant to have cannot be found while adrift!

Before I uncover the seven ways I helped my client end his drifting, let me ask you this … are you a drifter? Napoleon Hill gives us a list of the signs of those of us who are drifting that is helpful in order to examine ourselves. I was surprised the first time I saw the list to learn that I was guilty of being out at sea … drifting to nowhere! Go through it now, and use it as a checklist to determine whether or not you are a drifter:

  • Lack of purpose
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Rarely (if ever) accomplishes anything requiring thought and effort
  • Expects everything of others, but gives nothing in return
  • Begins many things, but completes very few
  • Often condemns government, but rarely speaks of how it could be improved
  • Avoids decisions if they can avoid it
  • When they do decide, they will reverse themselves at any opportunity
  • Spends all they earn and more too if they can get credit
  • Often sick or ailing and complain if they suffer the least physical pain
  • Lacks enthusiasm and initiative to begin anything they are not forced to do
  • Takes the path of least resistance whenever they can
  • Ill-tempered and deficient in controlling their emotions
  • Deny being ill-tempered when confronted
  • Have strong opinions on everything (but may read one thing to form the opinion and consider themselves an authority)
  • Does not cooperate with those working with them on projects
  • Repeats the same mistakes and justify or deny, rarely learning or taking ownership
  • Often narrow-minded and intolerant
  • Self empowered to set things straight
  • Often eats too much, and exercise sporadically, if at all
  • Loves to drink liquor, especially if someone else will pay for it
  • Criticizes others who are succeeding or diminish their contribution
  • A drifter will work harder to get out of things than most others work at making a living
  • A drifter will tell a lie rather than admit their mistakes or offenses
  • A drifter will criticize others to their backs, and flatter them to their faces

If you identify with at least five of the above, you are likely drifting. If you identify with seven or more, you are definitely drifting. Why does it matter? Drifting is the MAJOR hidden cause for all of your suffering, stress and dis-satisfaction with life.

Just as I shared with the young man referred to me, I would like to help you by uncovering seven things that will stop the drifting, and propel you into a purposeful, fulfilled life. 

1. Make a decision and take charge. 

Regardless or how or why you began drifting, you are not stuck with drifting as your destiny.

However, it will not just magically fade away.

The first thing that you must do is to make the decision to make your life intentional and purposeful. And then take action toward making that happen.

The first thing I had this young man do, and it would be a great idea for you to follow suit, is to write a letter of resignation from drifting. Most of us just want to think these things through and hope that they will somehow happen. But taking the three minutes that it would take to write that letter of resignation is a powerful exercise.

It’s a massive immediate action step that informs your brain that it needs to get off of autopilot. Without taking some sort of action immediately, the good thought about taking charge of your life will fade away and autopilot will resume.

I suggest you make the letter fun so that it makes an impression on your brain. This young man wrote his letter on my whiteboard: 

“Hey you drifting devil, you’re not in charge of my life anymore. There’s no telling where you will take me, and I’m sure it ain’t no place that I want to be. So get the hell out of here before I have to make this doctor round up some TNT! Go on now! Get moving! You are not welcome here anymore!“

Although he resisted writing it on the board, and making it humorous, he let me know later that this step was one of the things that kept him moving through the next six steps.

What about you? Write your letter now! Resign from drifting!

2. Get courageous.

You may be wondering why taking charge of your life and stopping the drifting would require courage. It requires courage because you don’t have to take responsibility for anything when you’re just letting your life drift along.

But when you decide that you are not satisfied with drifting, you are all of a sudden responsible for how your life goes. Taking that on requires courage.

It requires that you do some things, and do them differently. Because if you do not intervene on your patterns, you will just continue drifting.

I think one of the best ways to step into courage is to let three people close to you know that you have resigned from drifting. In informing them that you are taking charge of your life, and you will be approaching things differently, you are also courageously building in some accountability. Most of us are much more comfortable with no accountability whatsoever.

We prefer to just let things happen, and have no one holding us accountable. If it works out … great! And if it doesn’t … no one will ever know. Accountability is a great thing, and when you choose accountability wisely, it’s your best ally.

Choose three people who will cheer you on, but also exercise the courage to challenge you when you get lax, or lean toward returning to drifting.. Someone who will ask the difficult questions, like: “What happened to your resolve to stop drifting? And how can I help?“

Asking for accountability creates instant courage. Who can you be accountable to? Take your step of courage right now! Contact three people, share your resolve, and ask them to hold you accountable. Now that is courage!

3. Discover your purpose.

I believe one of the greatest ways to overcome drifting is to know your purpose.

What are you uniquely gifted to do? Gifted to share? I believe our greatest strengths, the things we are drawn to, and our gifting‘s all lead us to our purpose.

If you do not know yours, ask yourself these questions and write your responses thoughtfully. You will have a very good beginning of identifying your purpose:

Questions to consider:

  • What are my greatest strengths? If you aren’t sure, ask three people who would be willing to take the time to honestly give you this feedback.
  • What challenges have you overcome in life? Usually these challenges that we overcome are good clues to knowing our purpose.
  • What natural gifts, talents and abilities do you have? We usually or born with these,, or easily develop them because they are qualities and characteristics that will help us fulfill our purpose.
  • If you could accomplish one thing that you believe would help others (and you had no limitations), what would that one thing you’d most like to accomplish be? That normally leads you to additional clues about your purpose.
  • If you could help just one segment of people or help with one overarching problem, (and you had the ability and resources), what would that be? Finding your area of passion often helps in identifying your purpose.  

Review your responses and you will likely have a good beginning of knowing your purpose.

With the young man I was working with, we discovered:

  • His greatest strengths were relating to young boys, and helping them learn lessons through fun activity; patience; story telling.
  • His greatest challenge had been coming from a family of drug addicts. Although he was sucked into it, early in his life, he made a different decision and had been clean and sober for over 10 years. He had also overcome traumatic abuse, and decided to “make something of himself.”
  • His natural gifts included having fun, not judging others and a natural inclination for sports and anything outdoors.
  • The one thing he hoped to accomplish was to help young boys make better decisions and know they don’t have to follow in the path they came from, if they want to do better.
  • He really wanted to focus on helping young boys become great young men.

What about you? What do you know so far about your purpose?

4. Know your needs.

We all have four basic human needs for survival, and three more for thriving.

Our four survival needs are:

  • Significance/Importance
  • Surprise/Adventure
  • Support/Love
  • Security/Safety

If all four of those needs are not met in a healthy way, we are not able to move on to our thriving needs:

  • Sharing/Making a Difference
  • Spiritual Growth/Connection
  • Self Improvement/Personal Growth

Research reveals that if all of our survival needs are not met, we are all at risk of giving up our goals, sacrificing our dreams, and/or violating our values. 

That is a perfect recipe for drifting. But when we know what our needs are, and get them met in a healthy way, we are much less prone to drifting.

The very act of knowing what they are, and working to get them met in a healthy way, so we can move on to the thriving needs, is the perfect recipe for stomping out drifting.

When working with the young man who came to me to abolish his drifting, we learned some very interesting things about his needs. His survival needs fell in this order:

  • Support/Love
  • Surprise/Adventure
  • Significance/Importance
  • Safety/Security

Due to his fear of rejection (from his early years), he made sure to keep himself disconnected. That need was not being met at all. (And his wife was lonely!) His need for adventure drove him to overspending to do things that did not fit the family budget. Although the need was being met, it was not being met in a healthy way. He had been taught that “pride comes before a fall,” and therefore, he was very self demeaning, keeping his need for significance and importance unmet. He didn’t care about safety and security, and identified his own selfishness when he learned it was his wife’s #1 need.

Perfect recipe for drifting. None of his thriving needs were met, although he longed for them and “hoped someday” it might happen.

We devised a plan to get his needs met in a healthy way (much to the delight of his wife).

What about you? What order do your four survival needs fall in? And are you getting those needs met? In a healthy way? The truth is … it’s a prerequisite for putting an end to your drifting!

5. Know what you want.

Most people who are drifting do not know what they truly want. When I asked the young man in my office what he truly wanted in life, his response was very general, as is the case with most people who are drifting. He said, “Oh … I just wanna have a good life.“

I think we all want a good life. But I kept asking for more information, like: “What does having a good life mean to you?“ Another general response: “Oh, you know … stay out of trouble.“ When I asked what staying out of trouble meant, he responded with: “Well it wouldn’t be any fun to be in jail.“

After working together over the course of several weeks, he became much more clear about what he did want:

  • To have a marriage that was fun and exciting
  • To have a great relationship with his kids and to coach their soccer teams
  • To earn enough money to take care of all of his family’s needs, and take them on a great vacation every year
  • To get out of the job he hated, and work somewhere that meant something to him
  • To help other people stop wasting their lives by drifting

What about you? What do you really want from your life? Because it is very unlikely that you will get there if you allow yourself to continue drifting.

Take a moment and write down what it is that you really want in your life. Dream BIG, ask BIG, believe BIG!  Doing those big things will cause drifting to take flight!

6. Find fulfillment.

I have worked with people for almost 3 decades on drifting. One thing they all have in common is that there is a lack of fulfillment in their lives.

That should come as no surprise, because drifting obliterates fulfillment, and fulfillment cannot come to fruition in those who are drifting.

Take some time to consider what is fulfilling to you. Get a piece of paper out and draw some things, or write words and phrases that would create some sense of fulfillment for you.

My client actually went to the whiteboard. He drew a campsite with teepees, trees, one big stick person and several little stick figures. Beneath it he wrote: “Help kids appreciate the magnificence in nature.“

He wrote:

  • Help them dream
  • Increase their definition of what is possible
  • Hear kids laugh
  • Get parents interested in their kids
  • Turn around the way things are going in many families

Needless to say, this lined up with his purpose. Shortly after that, he began coaching boys, doing camp outs for boys and their dads, and doing creative projects to teach little boys to dream for great things.

To him that was fulfillment. For his sons, for his heart, and for his life.

What would be fulfilling for you? 

Take a moment and consider things that would feel fulfilling to you. Fulfillment takes the wind out of the sails of drifting through life.

7. Morning routines, rituals and new habits.

Once you have an idea about your purpose, once your needs are met, once you know what would feel fulfilling to you … ask yourself this question:

“What routines, rituals and habit will take me there?”

When I asked my drifting client that question, he began with:

“Well I would stop getting up every morning and immediately turning on headline news”. I smiled and nodded, because I had kicked that habit to the curb years previously.

I asked him what he would do instead? He said that he would need to focus in on something that would remind him that he wasn’t drifting. I suggested that he create a power word.

I wrote about that last week, but for those of you who may have missed it here it is again.

Every year at Thanksgiving as I consider all that I have to be thankful for, I take a moment to look at who I’ve been, how I have shown up in the world. Then I consider what I could change, work on, or focus on to show up even more powerfully in the next year.

Then I take time to choose a power word that reflects that change, metamorphosis or improvement that I would like to see and myself.

A few years ago, I chose the word DEVOTED. I was working on a new project, and I knew I had to work in order to keep my focus on the end game. I knew it would cause me to grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

So my power word became devoted. Then I encourage you to write the letters of the word vertically, and use each letter in the word to write a short word or phrase that describes who you would like to be or how you would like to grow and develop.

For example, that year, here is how my power word and desired life description looked:

Destiny shake up shape up

Extraordinary results in kajabi

Valuable Life altering content delivery

Outrageous fun

True love experiences 

Energizer Bunny Resurrection

Dreams surpassed

Think about who you wish to become and choose a power word. Then write your words/ phrases of who you would like to become.

My client created this for his power word: PURPOSE – DRIVEN.

Here are the other habits rituals and routines he created:

  • A 15 minute walk in the morning where he read his power word out loud every morning
  • Dedicating half of his lunch break daily to considering new career possibilities and begin submitting applications and/or investigating education/training to change careers
  • Turning off the television and all social media in the evening to spend one quality hour with his children
  • After putting the kids to bed, spending another quality hour with his wife
  • Entering into a zero negativity contract with himself

His list went on. 

By the way, he enrolled in my Life Coach Training and became certified. He is now working as a Life Coach for boys and young men.

What about you? What new habits, rituals and routines do you need to drive you to fulfillment and living your purpose? 

Drifting will definitely be in the past, and your forward movement will be more fulfilling and extraordinary then you ever dreamed! Take these 7 steps and you will kiss drifting goodbye!