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Life . . . By Drift or Design

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One of my clients recently told me that after 27 years of marriage her husband has just asked for a divorce. Apparently he had been miserable for the last 15 of those 27 years. ‘No’, she didn’t see any signs of his unhappiness but then again, she admitted that she’s been pretty caught up in her own work for so long that maybe she didn’t notice the signs. Another client, a senior manager, has been so overwhelmed with work for so long that he’s gotten use to only spending about 10 hours a month with his family. It’s ‘not ideal’ he says but there isn’t much he can do about either.

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve worked with over the years that have similar stories. Their professions and life circumstances vary widely but they are all surprised and disillusioned to find themselves in circumstances, relationships, and jobs that have little connection any more with what’s really important to them. Somewhere along the course of their life they got caught in what I call the drift.

Whether leading others or leading your own life it seems to me there are two primary paths you can take. You either spend most of your time reacting to circumstances, acting mostly out of habit and at the effect of what others want of you (the drift) OR you are conscious and purposeful in designing how you spend your time, and with whom, as a reflection of what matters most to you.

OK, maybe it’s not that simple or black and white, but it’s a powerful way to orient yourself in both your professional and personal life.

In the drift, your life is the result of just the way you’ve come to do things. It’s a result of a million small and not-so-small decisions that you made out of habit or fear or justifications and reasons to accommodate to the circumstances.

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