Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

How to Not Drift Through Life and Get What You Really Want

This month, I’m writing a mini-series for readers on how to get the life you’ve always dreamed of. If you missed Lesson 1, you can go read (and listen to) it here.

How to Not Drift Through Life

Maybe “the life you’ve always dreamed of” sounds fluffy to you, but I promise you it doesn’t have to be. I’m sharing short, practical and personal lessons with you on what I’ve learned from finding my life’s purpose and living it out on a daily basis, along with all the struggles along the way.

If you haven’t already done so, take the LifeScore™ Assessment to clarify what’s most important in your life, and how to tangibly create the life of your dreams and achieve your biggest goals.

All of us have room to grow in this area, but knowing where you stand is a necessary first step before that growth happens.

To listen to the audio of the lesson, which includes some bonus commentary from me, click the player below.

Play

Lesson 2: Decide Not to Drift

Have you ever noticed how some people just seem to drift through life, without direction or purpose? Maybe you’ve noticed that about your own life.

I did this for nearly 10 years. It made me miserable. I kept complaining to my wife about what I really wanted to do but was too afraid to do.

It reminds me of a time when I was about six years old, afraid to go outside and play with the other kids. My family and I were living in a small apartment near Aurora, Illinois, and I was so shy that instead of going outside to play with the other kids that summer, I stayed indoors.

But whenever the other kids from the apartment complex would run around the courtyard, I’d chase them from one end of the duplex unit to the other, running from window to window so that I didn’t miss a thing.

Of course, I was missing everything. And I wanted to be out there playing with them, but I was scared. Scared to leave the comfort of home. Scared to step out. Scared to be rejected.

But one day, my mom (who was probably annoyed at a hyper little boy racing around her house when he should have been outside that summer) sat me down and said,

Jeff, if you want a friend, you have to be a friend.

She taught me that if I wanted people know and like me then I had to make the first move. I’ve never forgotten that lesson.

Often in life, we’re waiting for someone else to make the first move.

We’re stuck inside, watching others participate in the game but never taking the bold move to join in. We’re hoping someone invites us in, hoping we don’t have to do the messy work of asking or simply showing up.

But that’s not how life works. At least not for me. Maybe you are different. Maybe you got invited to all the parties in high school and all the girls (or guys) wanted to go out with you and you never had to deal with awkwardness or rejection or fear.

But I did.

And as someone who’s deal with that, I can tell you. It’s easier to just not put yourself through it. Easier, but not better.

Sail your ship

There’s that old saying: “A ship is safe in the harbor, but that’s not what a ship is built for.” The same is true of you. I believe that there is work that you need to do in this life. Important work. Work that only you can do.

But it won’t just happen. You can’t just drift through life and create the change you want. It’s going to take work and intentionality. You’re going to have sometimes swim against the current and brave the onslaught of the waves. You might even get dashed upon the rocks on occasion.

So it’s anything but safe. But this is what you were made for. This is why you are here.

Step out into the light, become your true self, and decide not to drift.

If you haven’t already taken your LifeScore™ Assessment to see where you rank in terms of how well you’re living up to your potential, you can do so here. It’s totally free and a great self-discovery tool. I love it!

How have you drifted from your goals? What is one step you can take to get back on track? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • Christina Pavani

    Wonderful tips, thanks for sharing your own experience.

  • Blindwomanwriting

    What is one step I can make to get back on track? A step means physical action, right? Not just a thought, not just intent, not just a wish. If I look at my score on that assessment and work from my strengths, What I can do is start the blog I’ve always wanted and focus it on my family. Fear has always held me back. Deep breath. Can I do it?

  • Dianne Compton

    I am self-limiting my time on social networks. I have taken a break from an online publication that I manage and the group that is attached to it. This is very hard for me as this group and the people in it have been what has fed me and kept me going. But they are now a distraction to what I need to do to take care of myself and improve my situation.

  • Joe

    Great post, I believe in what you are saying… and find the topic fascinating. I myself have drifted before, for many years and I think we all do… theres a great saying that we never know where we are going until we get there…. which is profound in most cases because it’s true. That being said, splashing your face with water every morning, or something you dislike is a sure way to wake yourself up to reality every morning.

    We are developing an online resource at https://www.velvetjobs.com/articles/insights/freelance-writing-career-resources and we found your site insightful to say the least, I hope we can do some guest post in the near future, if this opportunity is available?

  • Robin Dix

    As always your writing is spot on! (might want to correct a few errors) sorry, I’m good at proofreading 😊

  • Corrie Ann Gray

    As a child I was painfully shy, and to make things worse I attended 13 different schools between kindergarten and 12th grade. Making friends was next to impossible. It wasn’t until I was in my early 30s that I really bust out of my shyness; however, the introvert in me lives on. I find myself often staying in my safe harbor and this has led me to a secluded life, you know, the kind that is often attributed to writers. Haha. One of my targets for 2018 is to open myself up to the possibilities in life. Make new friends, explore new places, and create new ideas. I drifted through two corporate jobs for 30 years, working part-time on my writing and other projects. I bust out in January of this year and won’t look back.

  • mlaclave

    Jeff,
    I have been reading your blog for some time now and I love I that you do. I must say that this topic of goals and purpose has been awesome. For me it has reminded me to stay focused and to know it is not to late to get back on course.
    Thank you for the encouragement to keep pressing forward. There are times when I wonder, “What’s special about me?,” “What do I really have to offer?” There really is a calling and a purpose for us all. Thank you again for pointing me back to a path of purpose.
    Matthew

  • Adriana

    Thanks. Right on target. My dream life awaits behind the walls on fear and confort. I might be in need of a good crisis.

  • Jeanna Toler Fox

    I have drifted from my goals in the past. I became a wife and mother and my world became about them. Until recently. In 2007 I got a divorce. The kids became adults, and I spent more years than I should have wondering what now? Two years ago, I set a sort of goal. Sort of because I wasn’t sure I was capable or how to make it happen. I spent most of that time learning and rewiring my brain for success. Now I know. I have a goal, and while there are still some fine details that need to be fleshed out, it’s still a pretty solid goal. I’m not drifting at all. Rather, I’m paddling as hard as I can with occasional breaks to catch my breath and check my compass.

  • Michael Wilhelm

    Drifting takes very little energy, if any at all. It seems easier on the front end, but it will sap us of vitality and passion. Thanks for the reminder that the path to my dreams is uphill.