We all know the dangers of distracted driving — it claims thousands of lives each year.
Drivers get distracted, they lose sight of their priorities, and they drift. And results can be catastrophic, both for them and everyone else in their path.
These tragic accidents usually happen because a driver puts something unimportant — like a text message — ahead of what’s really important — their life and the lives of others.
But even if you don’t drive distracted, there’s a good chance you’ve lived distracted at some point. And that has a consequence, too. It’s called The Drift.
Through more than 20 years as an executive coach, I’ve seen how The Drift can pull our lives off course over weeks, months and years — usually without us even realizing it.
We come home from a stressful day at work and miss an opportunity to connect with our spouse. We skip one workout, then another.
We focus on something that’s urgent but maybe not all that important. And in so doing, we take our eyes off what matters most.
We tell ourselves it’s just a season. But over time, The Drift pulls us further away from where we want to be. And one day we wake up and wonder, “How did I get here?”
That is definitely not living with purpose.
We all drift every now and then.
But when we’re unaware, distracted and overwhelmed, The Drift can sneak up on us and the consequences can be costly.
We can wind up confused, not knowing where we want to go or how to get there.
We can lose money and opportunities as we spin our wheels.
We can expose ourselves to all kinds of pain and regret — simply because we’re not paying attention to what matters most.
And if you’re drifting, it doesn’t just affect you — it affects everyone around you, too.
I’ve met many people in their forties, fifties and sixties who are struggling with poor health, broken marriages, stagnant careers or disconnected spiritual lives. They’re far from where they thought they would be at this point in their lives, and it’s because they drifted.
So how can you fight The Drift and begin living with purpose? How can you start paying attention and stop believing the lie that life will slow down on its own next week, next month or next year? It’s all about designing a life that aligns with your priorities.
It starts with creating a Life Plan.
A Life Plan is a short, written document, created by you and for you, that answers three key questions.
In planning anything, the best place to begin is at the end. In this case, that means thinking about how you want those in your life to remember you after you’re gone. It may require deep reflection, but by understanding what you want your legacy to be, you can begin to pull out of The Drift.
No one has time to focus on everything. It’s easy to get caught in The Drift when we’re not clear on our priorities, because we end up investing a lot of time and energy in too many areas of our lives. By getting clear on our priorities and what truly matters most to us, we can ensure we are investing in the right activities.
As a coach, this is probably my favorite part. I think of a Life Plan as a GPS for your life. Once you know where you’re starting and where you want to go, your Life Plan can show you the best route to get there. That’s what a Life Plan does. You’ll identify the actions that can help you fight The Drift and improve every area of your life.
If you find yourself stuck in The Drift, creating a Life Plan won’t magically get you back on track. But it will give you clarity around what’s most important to you, confidence that you are investing the right amount of time in those areas, and courage to say no to good things so you can say yes to great things.
I truly believe that by taking the time to go through the process, you can become more intentional, more proactive and more connected to everyone around you.
This is an updated version of an earlier post, originally published November 28, 2017.