Are you drifting through life?

To drift: to move slowly, especially as a result of outside forces, with no control over direction.

Sometimes we drift through our lives, at the mercy of the currents and winds.  Sharp rocks and shipwrecks may await, or, less dramatically but potentially as serious, a lifetime of drifting into unsatisfactory jobs, into not quite ever getting around to doing what we really want to do.  We follow the currents of other people’s beliefs and values, other people’s ‘shoulds’, never quite getting where we really want to go.  Perhaps not even aware of where we really want to go.

Sometimes drifting can look very busy and purposeful.  A person may go into a career that seemed like the right choice at the time.  And then they just keep on going, keep on climbing the career ladder, taking the next job that appears, earning the promotion, doing the right things to succeed.  And that’s great – if that is what they really want to be doing.  But so often we just sleepwalk into these situations, we go about our busy lives perhaps outwardly successful but with a nagging doubt in our minds – is this really all there is to life?

And often we drift with a head full of dreams.  Our body is sitting in an open plan office in front of a computer, our head is filled with possibilities.  Perhaps I’ll write a novel.  Maybe I could go self-employed.  Maybe I’ll pack it all in and go and live on a desert island.  But we never do.

So much of our energy is focused on dreaming, on thinking, on imagining, on future possibilities, but these thoughts don’t turn into action. Looking inward, looking to something that only exists in our minds, talking about it maybe (perhaps talking about it endlessly!) but never doing.  Never changing, never growing, just drifting.

And sometimes we drift with no dreams at all.  We plod along a course that we haven’t chosen, frustrated.  Drifting on the currents of life, we see no way out.

And then something happens.  Maybe we get too close to those dangerous rocks.  A near miss.  Maybe we just can’t face another day at our job.   A significant birthday. A storm brings a clarifying splash of icy cold water. 

Photo by Johannes Plenio on

A shift in perspective.

This is the moment when we realise….

‘If I want to make change happen then I have to DO something.  Now!’

This is when we take control. Now we are not drifting, we are steering. We take the helm.  We take responsibility.  We take our boredom with our current lives seriously.  We take our dreams seriously. 

We commit to change.

We take action


To steer a course or path: to take a series of actions, usually of a particular type, carefully and intentionally.

At first, steering may look just like drifting to the outside observer.  Outwardly, nothing may change.  We may still be at the boring job, but unseen by the world we are now making plans, researching, taking action. 

We question.  Is this really want I want to do?  What is it that I believe?  Where do I really want to be in 5 years time?  What does success look like to me…not to my mother or my work colleagues or society….to me?

We may appear to drift around for a while, trying out new ideas, but the difference is that our movement is purposeful to us.  We are deliberately choosing our direction.

We make goals and we take the steps that we need to make those goals happen.

We go from saying ‘maybe I could do xyz’, or ‘I’d love to do xyz but it’s not possible because….’ To ‘it is possible and I will take the steps I need to take to make it happen.

It might not be easy.  It will probably take courage and determination to make changes.  We might want to give up.  We might need support. 

But now we know.  If we want change, we need to take action.  We take responsibility for our lives.  We align to our inner compass and steer our own course.

Photo by Bakr Magrabi on

What about you? Are there places in your life where you are drifting?

If you would like to find out how coaching can help you to move from drifting to steering in your own life, please book a 1 hour discovery call with me using the form below.

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