Driven or Drifting
“Freedom lies in being bold.” ― Robert Frost
We are moving house at the moment. It’s a time of frantic activity, packing, planning and preparing for a major change. And it’s OK! We are enjoying the activity because we know there are great things to look forward to. The knowing is driving us forward to the new experiences we will share there.
After we arrive at our new home, we’ll unpack, get ourselves settled in, and then relax.
From time to time in everyone’s life, we are driven by a need, compulsion, goal or ambition, or fear. At other times, when none of these stimulants are present, we can find ourselves drifting, just cruising. Both are OK. As long as we are aware of what state we are in, and are happy with it.
It’s when we are unconsciously in a state of either being #driven or drifting that we can get into trouble.
Can you be unconsciously driven?
Yes. Consider the workaholic. Ask them why they work 18 hours a day and they may not know, or just say there’s “a lot on at the moment” and keep working. However, it’s a subconscious compulsion, driven by who knows what. It’s not something they can control; it actually controls them, and in the process, may ruin lives, relationships, health, businesses and more.
Workaholics are not the only ones driven by unconscious compulsions and drivers. There are all the other ‘holics’ as well, plus those obsessed with anything that prevents them from enjoying the ebb and flow of normal life. Collectors are a great example. It’s wonderful to collect items of special significance to you. However, when it takes over your life, costs you financially, emotionally, ruins relationships, health and families, even your best friend will suggest that your obsession with collecting bottle tops has taken over – your life is no longer your own!
Can you be unconsciously drifting?
Yes, again. When the rush dies down, it’s nice to sit on the couch and watch a movie, or read a book. It’s a natural cycle of life that we rest and recharge the batteries before the next big push. But what if there is no ‘next big push’?
The danger of being too comfortable.
When life is cruising like this, each day is a routine where nothing challenging happens, perhaps beyond some traffic, your team losing or the local store being out of your favourite item, the danger is that your mind, and sometimes your muscles, atrophy. “Use it or lose it” is the old saying, and there’s a lot of value in it.
We know that one of the greatest defences against mental illnesses such as Parkinson’s or dementia, for example, is to actively challenge your mind. Crossword puzzles, electronic games and other specific mental activities force the mind and the brain to work and create fresh new neural pathways, that somehow manage to stave off the onset of these degenerative mental illnesses for years, even when there is a genetic predisposition towards them. Being lazy has a terrible price to pay, and it’s not a direct cost. It’s the cost of what you can lose, both in opportunity and function, by not getting out and taking part in life, contributing and being challenged by life. Sometimes the greatest losses are only realised later, when you learn that an incredible opportunity passed by, while you were sitting on your couch!
Balancing life’s driven and drifting cycles.
Human beings need goals, as something to aim for, a purpose, something to identify with and to look forward to. As a species, we need something to look forward to, something to give us some brightness of the future, some hope. Even the worst day or mood can be lifted when the person is shown a little something they value, something to look forward to. At best, the goals we set can be empowering, motivating and inspirational, as they should be. Whether it’s a family goal, or the love of family that motivates and drives us, or whether it’s a goal to be the greatest in the world at something, it doesn’t matter. As long as it moves us, and stops the atrophy.
However, to balance it, we all need some downtime. Our bodies have a “circadian rhythm”, a 24 hour cycle in which we are programmed for a period of driven activity, and a period when the program is for the body to sleep, to rest and recuperate. Driven or drifting throughout a 24 hour period. Genetically, this is how we are programmed.
Mentally, it’s similar with being driven or drifting, but with different time frames. If we have an interest in something, we are inspired and motivated by it, but when we complete that challenge, the drive to understand and master it, that drive often dissipates and we can move on from it. Depending on what it is, that cycle can last from moments to days, months or years. At the end of that cycle, the mind needs to tune out, before tuning in again on something new.
Even the most satisfying career or job needs us to take a break, to maintain our freshness and enthusiasm. We take annual holidays – at least, we should! Most employment contracts specify some time off each year, but it’s great also to take breaks on weekends, to escape from the rush, the drive and to ‘smell the roses’, appreciating our family and friends and life other than the career or driving force.
Just like my wife and I will rest after we move into our lovely new home, and unpack the boxes containing our lives. We will rest, recover and start the forward planning process again, from a new base.
Are you locked into a rhythm of being too much driven or drifting?
How do you know? And what can you do about it?
The first step towards regaining control of life, whether you are driven or drifting, is to be aware of what you are doing. Consciousness is not something everyone is good at! How many times have you driven to work, and only realised when you arrived that you had no memory of the trip? Or the train or bus ride? When we develop a routine of checking in on awareness each day, we regain consciousness of our activities, our thoughts and our direction, and only then can we begin to take back control of our lives. That provides the opportunity to decide on our driven or drifting schedules, when to set and work on our inspirational goals, and when to take time to relax, recuperate and drift along with the flow of life.
The next step is to consciously assess where we are in life compared to where we want to be, and decide on how to make up the differences. Setting goals to achieve the necessary steps to catch up to where we decided perhaps in our youth, where we wanted to be by each certain age. Life throws us curve balls, and only when we become conscious do we realise that we haven’t achieved everything we wanted, or we are not feeling the satisfaction from it that we expected.
That’s when a program to raise awareness and provide the discipline and skills you need to get back on track can be such a powerful aid to progressing towards the life you dreamed of. That program would inspire you each morning, refresh your goals for you and point out the action steps you needed to take that day, provide you with a ‘to do’ list of other life matters for the day, and close your day with a cheer, congratulating you on your achievements, and inspiring you to look forward to tomorrow. You can have that program; it’s HERE! To find out more about it, click this link and picture yourself moving forward into the life you dreamed of, only this time, with the guidebook you always knew was somewhere to be had. Now you can have it!
If you feel inspired to take the next step now, perhaps others will too. Please forward this article and share it with others who you feel want more from their lives too. Change their lives, as well as your own.
Til next time, fair winds and full sails!