Just drifting through life

I recently worked with a 60 year-old gentleman who was living in a week-to-week motel room.  Four years ago he was in a banking position with a six-figure income, first class flights and lots of perks.  As a result of a merger, he quickly ended up with no job, no money and no prospects of either.  He stated, “I have essentially drifted through life.”  It’s funny how not having a plan can periodically lead to success anyway with failure lurking close behind.  Taking the path of least resistance makes very crooked rivers and very frustrated people.

Just this week another 56 year-old executive, completing 33 years of advancement in the same company, wrote this in his initial information profile:  “I have maybe 15 years to make something of myself and salvage my reputation.  I have always expected to be something more than I have turned out to be.”  On Tuesday, a 45 year-old highly paid financial vice-president told me, “I feel like I’m headed the wrong way on a six-lane highway, but can’t get across the median.”

Other statements people have used to describe their situation:Business man with the text Everyday is a Second Chance

“I feel like my life is a movie that’s almost over and I haven’t even bought the popcorn yet.”

“I’m like a butterfly caught in a spider web and the life is slowly being sucked out of me.”

Putting yourself in the driver’s seat requires creating a clear sense of where you want to go.  Drifting leads to helplessness, frustration, anger, resentment, guilt and depression.  Being clear about a desired direction will immediately begin to lessen these feelings and those of hope, optimism, confidence, boldness and enthusiasm will begin to grow.

“It’s never too late to be the person you know you could have become.”

Use this time of year to clearly decide what you want 2015 to be.  Review the points covered on “Is Your Job Your Calling?”  If you need to make adjustments, create a plan and ACTl  Need help creating a plan – Work with Dan

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  • Paul Sabaj

    Boy , Talk about a timely post. I have recently talked with quite a few people who were downsized recently. The one thing they all had in common was that none had a plan. They had drifted into a comfort zone or a life of mediocrity. They had lost their passion along the way. I will have to share thiss email. I really wish that this could be a in USA Today because I really think people need to hear this. Hope to see you again Jim

    • Paul – how sad to be confronted with that right here at this time of year. But you are so right; we have to stay current on the potential application of our skills at all times.

  • Dan: Great advice! If you don’t know where you want to go, how will you ever get there? Vision is absolutely vital to success.

    • Andrew,
      So true. Without a clear goal in mind, movement is not very important. Even a dead fish can swim downstream.

  • PaulVandermill

    Greetings Dan,

    Oh so true! So many of the ideas you have written about ring in my mind. From the old dog whimpering while laying on a nail, the donkey on a 6 foot length of rope with a bale of hay 8 feet away, the thought that if you are not pursuing your own goals you will end up helping someone else achieve theirs. The “comfort zone” is a trap.

    When you give someone else the wheel, you can end up in a ditch. I suspect those described in your article above suffered greatly for the results of their choices and would implore others to never go down a similar path.

    I once listened to a conversation you had during an interview. The other guy’s position was a frustration with those who listen but do not seem to act. Your perspective was to encourage such listeners in preparation for the time when they do take action. Thanks for that. Still waters run deep.

    • Paul – thanks for your comments. I do love these little stories that remind us of life principles.

  • Many people I speak with don’t have a sense for the direction they want for their careers. I often wonder how many opportunities they’re missing by not having a plan to be intentional in a particular direction. I know it’s very easy to get comfortable in a situation, so thanks for the prodding to take action Dan.

    • Adam – thanks for your comments, “Comfortable misery” is a dangerous trap.

  • Kim Henning

    I have and am still in the same boat as the gentlemen you describe, however, I have begun to really focus on what I want and put those plans into action. Unfortunately, it took hitting rock bottom at 48 to realize that I cannot go on the way I have been. Thank you for the the additional nudge I needed to keep me focused.

    • Kim – Just stay clear on where you are headed, not just where you are. Make it a great New Year!

  • Clark Gaither

    Those quotes and stories are very poignant, Dan. I can feel their sadness and even their desperation because I have felt exactly the same. I think it was fear that held me back for so long – fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of inadequacy, just to name a few. Then there was the small still voice in the back of mind saying, “What are you, crazy? You should be content with what you have. There is no need to do anything else with our life.” That voice would be the echo of my mother’s voice who never relished change or favored achievement. But, you are right. It is never too late to begin an entirely different journey. I can also attest to that first hand.

  • Chris Conley

    I love the quote “I feel like my life is a movie that’s almost over and I haven’t even bought the popcorn yet.” I’ll have to use that one. Thanks as always, your writing and teaching inspires me to become better.

  • Allan McNutt

    Great post Dan! This is a subject that I feel strongly about, as I have done some “drifting” in my life as well!

    Drifting aimlessly has become normal in our culture. Most people are more worried about “Keeping up with the Kardashians”, “Who will be the next American Idol?” Or how many “likes” they got, than they are about career and family goals!

    This is huge advantage to anyone who makes the choice to live intentionally! A person who has clear goals and takies deliberate and intentional actions to achieve them is rare nowadays! It’s never been easier to stand out!