I bet you’ve asked that question before. It’s that thought that time is flying by and you don’t seem to have achieved what you wanted to.
I worry sometimes that the days seem to blend into each other because of busyness. Then another week has gone by and before I know it, another year has gone by and there I am, not having done any of the things that I would like to.
It occurred to me a couple of years ago that I kept making wishes about what I wanted my life to be, and that I wasn’t actually living it.
I wished I was one of those people who did yoga every day. I wished I could spend time by the ocean every day.
But I wasn’t doing those things, or many other things, even though there was nothing stopping me, other than a timetable, from doing it. Then there were the big ticket items – a desire to travel more, to take adventures, and business goals – that weren’t happening either, because I wasn’t paying attention to them. They were just random thoughts.
They were signs I was drifting through my life. Drifting is the opposite of steering. When you’re drifting, you’re moving but going nowhere in particular. When you’re steering, you’re moving in a purposeful direction.
I suspect that many of us are guilty of drifting through our days and not steering our lives in the direction that we truly want. Not achieving anything in particular. Not because we’re hopeless or haven’t got a clue – we’re just so damn busy.
The juggling act that we as working parents and hands-on mums participate in every day is potentially the biggest cause of drifting. It’s perhaps the main reason why we don’t achieve some things we would really like to, because we end up swept away in day-to-day timetables and responsibilities.
So here are my telltale signs of drifting.
You’re too busy.
If you find yourself too busy for life, there’s a good chance you’re adrift.
These are the times when you’re too busy to chat to your friends. For the catch ups. When you haven’t seen people who are important to you for eons because you have too much on your plate.
When you don’t have time for the things that make you happy – like yoga, exercise, cooking, sleeping, gardening, hobbies, art, music – or when your self-care isn’t even on your daily schedule, you’re adrift and leaving your health and happiness at the mercy of a timetable.
If you find yourself putting things off or making excuses, then you will be drifting.
When I put off getting out of bed early and not doing my yoga, or writing or meditation, or walking – I’m procrastinating and making excuses and not doing the exact things I know will make a difference to my life and that I actually WANT to do.
Putting things off is a sign you’re adrift and not taking action to take you where you want to be.
You live by default
This is a biggie. We all fall in to this. Routines can be a great thing when it comes to organisation, but a routine that is actually a habit can be a sign of drifting.
When you’re in the habit of dropping on to the couch every night to watch crap TV, you’re drifting. You could be using that time to do that hobby you’ve always wanted to do.
We live by default when we do what’s expected of us, rather than making choices that better suit us.
From how we spend our weekend to the career choices we make, the default can make us a sheep. A sheep treading water as she drifts along.
Your priorities are screwed up
When you put your work deadline before your health, either by default because that’s what you’ve always done or because you’re not brave enough to do otherwise, you’re drifting.
Perhaps you put doing something for the kids before your need to get out, exercise, spend time on something important to you – then you’re drifting. Your priority isn’t your happiness, but someone else’s needs, wants or demands are keeping you adrift.
When everyone else’s priorities are more important than your own, it makes it impossible to achieve your own goals, especially when you’re time poor.
You’re living mindlessly
This is the sum total of all of the above. You’re not even aware that you’re being swept away on the tide of busyness and other people’s priorities.
This is when you do what you’ve always done, what others do and follow the timetable set for you by everyone else and don’t realise that you’re doing it.
We just assume that this is the way life is, that there’s no other choice and no time for anything else.
We don’t have to drift – we can steer, even when we’re busy.
It’s really not a complicated process, to choose your direction and swim for it. It’s as simple, when it comes right down to it, as to think about what your wishes are, and decide on some actions to help you achieve them.
The hard part is the action required but even then, perhaps it’s not as hard as we tell ourselves.
We have to make time for the things we’d really like to be doing or the things we’d like to achieve.
Whether it be the small stuff, like writing or movement, or the big stuff, like travel, starting a business, retiring or moving somewhere new, it all requires a commitment to move purposely in that direction.
Even if you don’t reach your final destination, or you change course along the way, at least you will be heading somewhere rather than nowhere in particular.