The Dangers of Drifting

“Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, ’Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statues that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant.’”    –   1 Kings 11:11                                                                                                                                                     

The next time you are driving on the highway try this experiment and see what happens:  With both hands on the wheel – making sure you are on a straight stretch of highway – try not to move the steering wheel. What happens? Well, within a few seconds you will notice that your car is starting to drift either to the left or the right. And if you don’t correct for the drift quickly you will either hit another car or run off of the highway.

You might not be aware of it but when you drive an automobile you are constantly correcting against drift. Failure to make these corrections will lead to disaster.

Boats and planes drift, being pushed or pulled off course by undercurrents, wind and gravity.

Humans also drift.

There are many reasons why we humans are being pulled off course. Are you drifting or staying the course?

Drifting can be as simple as hitting the snooze button when you know you need to get up NOW in order to get to your 8 am meeting on time.  Drifting could be binge watching a Netflix series into the early hours of the morning, knowing that you’ll be exhausted the following day.  Drifting can also be when your limit of one or two drinks starts to move toward the three or more count. We find drifting in our relationships for others, especially when we take these relationships for granted and don’t stay as engaged in them as we should. Do you have a good client you are taking for granted? What about a mom or dad, brother or sister?

We drift when we are distracted, lazy or when we procrastinate.  We drift when we are unaware or don’t care.

Did you realize that we never drift upstream or against the tide?  Resisting the drift takes effort, continuous effort. Remember the example of driving your car? We constantly have to course correct.

 So if we admit that we do have a problem with drifting, or to prevent future drifting, what measures or actions can we put in place to stay the course?

  • Values and beliefs:

What are the guiding principles by which you live? Are you able to write them down and share them with a loved one? Do you believe in a higher power and the moral values that originate from that higher power? If so, these are the anchors that you can set that will prevent you from drifting from what you know is right.

  • Your roadmap:

We need a map, Google maps or other navigation device when we plan to drive from point A to point B. Do you know your personal, professional or spiritual  “Point B”?  Some call this your Goal(s), others call it your Purpose or Calling.  Once you know what this Goal is you need to roadmap to get there. Traffic, a washed out bridge or bad weather might cause you to take an alternative route. But never-the-less, you know what your end goal is. Flexibility, discipline, hard work and maybe a bit of luck, will get you there.

  • Accountability:

I went to a big university football game on Saturday. The stadium was packed with 82,000 screaming fans. To prevent chaos from erupting there were a lot of “officials” keeping order and holding people accountable. And on the field you had plenty of referees officiating the game, blowing the whistle and calling penalties.  Our personal lives are much like a big football game. Things can go wrong if we don’t have at least one person holding us accountable. Do you have at least one person that you’ve entrusted to be your accountability partner, someone who can speak truth to you when you start to drift?  I also find it valuable to be in a small group of like-minded friends and colleagues who can hold you accountable.

  • Resources:

I use this term very widely to include life, business, health coaches, mentors, therapists, books, videos, podcasts, etc.  Chances are someone before you has gone through a challenge similar to what you are facing and you can learn from their experience.  Realize that your not the expert in everything and that every now and then it is worth the investment to get some personalized support.

The next time you are at a lake or stream take a small branch, throw it in and watch where it drifts off to and how quickly. Our lives are much like this branch and if we don’t monitor and correct the drift, we’ll end up in places that could derail us.