How to Stop Drifting

The person who discovered the 10,000-hour rule, the one you likely learned from Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, is K. Anders Ericsson, a psychologist and professor at Florida State. When asked about the ability to become an expert in 10,000 hours, Ericsson said, “I have been walking for 48 years, but I don’t believe I am getting any better at it,” making the point that it is deliberate practice, practice focused on improvement which is necessary for expertise.

It’s the “deliberate” part that concerns us here, something that Napoleon Hill described as “a definite aim.”

Groundhog Day

It is possible that you are having the same year over again. You could be repeating the same patterns, built on the same actions, and guided by the same beliefs. Without changing the patterns, you eliminate the possibility of changing your results.

I am writing this to you a few days before the end of the Q1 of 2019, at the end of three rounds of a twelve round fight. For many, this year so much resembles last year that it would be impossible to tell them apart. They have the best of intentions, but those intentions are not enough to keep them from the drift.

The Drift

Let me help you image The Drift. Picture a large piece of wood being carried down a river by the current (or a paper boat). This piece of driftwood is a passenger, lacking the volition to swim against the current or remove itself from the stream altogether. Whatever happens to the driftwood is outside of its control or influence.

Many people drift. They allow circumstances to push them this way and that, carrying them in a direction they don’t want to travel, and toward unpleasant outcomes instead of toward that which they profess to want.

Here’s how to stop drifting.

Identity: If who you are now was enough, you wouldn’t need to change. Those who stop drifting, leading a life of their own design and producing the results they want, spend time and money, investing in becoming the person who can accomplish these things. They are driven to become the best version of themselves. Who are you becoming?

Goals: You can never hit a target you can’t see. Without goals, you are releasing yourself to the current. You have to know what you want and why you want it, and you need to focus on your goals, reviewing and committing to them each day. What do you want?

Modifications: Stopping the drift requires you to change what you are doing, how you are doing it, how much you do, and when you do it, or some combination thereof. If you are not where you want to be or headed swiftly in that direction, you need to modify what you are doing. Maybe you need a 180-degree turn, meaning you have everything all wrong, but perhaps you only need a 35-degree turn to start moving toward what you want and away from the drift. What needs to change?

Disciplines: The way you beat the drift is with disciplines, the routines you run over and over, the things you do habitually, without delay, and without fail. Your current disciplines (or lack thereof), for good or for ill, is what led you to where you are now. New disciplines, the modifications above, are what is necessary to pull you out of the drift and power you toward your goals. What are you willing to commit to doing?

As far as I have been able to discern, first you have to be more, then you can do more, then you can have more, and then you can contribute more, always in that order.

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