Avoiding the Drift

“I rarely drift toward where I want to go.” 

When I saw that sentence in an email from Keith Webb at Creative Resources Management, the truth of the statement immediately resonated with me. I rarely drift toward where I want to go . . . and yet somehow, we convince ourselves that it is okay to take our eye off our intended destination. To look around, maybe get distracted by a shiny object, a fun diversion. We’re basically moving in the right direction, why not just let the current take us for a bit. Coast. Before we know it, we have allowed ourselves to be lulled into a sense of contentment . . . until we look up and realize that we are totally off course. It happens so easy, mission drift, almost without us realizing it, until we end up somewhere we don’t recognize.

Drift is defined as “a continuous slow movement from one place to another.” That’s why we often miss it. It’s slow, gradual, hard to notice from one moment to the next. If it happened more quickly, we would likely respond right away. Sure, we all need to occasionally take time to catch our breath, to coast a bit while we recharge. So how do you make sure those moments of regrouping don’t become a drift that carries you away from your end goal?

Look up, at least weekly.

Sometimes the drift is so gradual that you won’t notice it at the end of the day. You keep your head down, consumed by the activities before you and trying to figure out how you are going to tackle the new things that have been added to your list . . . often without asking if something should be added to your list. At a regularly scheduled time, pause and consider whether your progress during the week has moved you closer to your intended destination.

Detour, don’t derail

Things rarely go exactly as you anticipate at the start of an effort. Detours happen, and they may momentarily appear to be taking you off course. As long as you are intentionally taking an alternate route, for a specific reason, it is unlikely to deter you from your ultimate destination. It may actually help you get there faster, stronger, better. It’s when you haven’t made an intentional decision regarding the detour, you just sort of followed the path of least resistance, that you are likely to get derailed.

You can’t just go with the flow

Others will want you to. Call it peer pressure, people telling you that you “have to” take a certain path. You don’t. Chances are, you are heading to a different place than they are. Sure, it might be in the same general direction, but your destination is specific to you, so the route to get there should be too. Chart your own course, even if the current tries to pull you in a different direction.

You have chosen your destination for a specific reason. Don’t let the current pull you off course. It is up to you to avoid the drift.

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