How to Avoid the Power of the Drift

Over the course of my life, I have worked with a lot of planners. As a corporate executive, I worked with strategic planners. As a speaker, I work with event planners. And, as the father of five daughters, I’ve worked with my share of wedding planners.

A Couple Snorkeling in the Ocean - Photo courtesy of ©, Image #3948552

Photo courtesy of ©

But I have met very few life planners—people who have a written plan for their lives.

Instead, most are passive spectators, watching their lives unfold a day at a time. They may plan their careers, the building of a new home, or even a vacation. But it never occurs to them to plan their life.

As a result, when they get into their 40s, 50s, and 60s, many of them are left wondering what went wrong. Perhaps:

  • Their health is failing;
  • Their marriage is broken; or
  • Their career is stalled.

Maybe their relationship with God seems distant and unfulfilling.

They have become a victim of the drift.

Years ago, Gail and I went to Maui to celebrate our anniversary. On the second day, we took snorkeling lessons. We started in the swimming pool, then progressed to the coral reef next to our hotel. We loved it. It was like swimming in a huge aquarium.

Later that same day, we rented some snorkeling gear and determined that we would venture out on our own. We had discovered a new sport that we could do together.

The next morning we ventured down to the beach. There wasn’t another soul around. It was like a scene from Blue Lagoon—pristine, tranquil, and stunning. We couldn’t wait to get into the water.

As we paddled about in the lagoon, facing down in the water, we were mesmerized by the aquatic life teeming just a few feet below us. We saw brightly colored fish, gently swaying plants, and, of course, the coral reef itself—alive with activity. It was truly a wow experience.

At some point, I decided to lift my head out of the water and look around. I gasped. Caught in a riptide, we had drifted more than a mile out to sea. The shoreline looked impossibly far away. Our hotel—all the hotels—looked like toys in the distance.

I immediately shouted to Gail who, fortunately, was still just a few feet from me. She looked up, saw our predicament, and then looked at me in near-panic. “Oh my gosh. What are we going to do?”

Fortunately, we had a “boogie board” with us, on which we could place shells and other items we hoped to find on the ocean floor. We both grabbed on to it and started paddling for our lives—literally.

We swam for more than an hour. Eventually, as we neared the shore, we stood up in the shallow water. We trudged up to the beach and collapsed in the sand. We were utterly exhausted.

We realized just how close we had come to disaster. This was not the outcome we had intended when we innocently slipped into the water that morning.

Many people experience this with their life. They look up and find themselves far away from where they thought they would be at this point in their lives.

You can avoid the drift, by following these three steps:

  1. Become aware of your current location. Wake up. Where are you in relation to where you know you should be? Don’t beat yourself up. Simply acknowledge your current reality. You can’t go somewhere else until you acknowledge where you are right now.
  2. Decide where you want to go. The essence of life planning is envisioning a better future. Let yourself dream. What kind of health do you want to possess? What kind of marriage do you want to enjoy? What kind of career do you want to have? Why settle for drifting to a boring—or even dangerous—situation.
  3. Start working toward your destination. Once you have acknowledged where you are and decided where you want to be, you can begin paddling in the direction of your goals. Yes, it will take work. But, when you have a plan, everyday becomes an opportunity to move toward your destination.

You may feel that you’ve drifted too far off course to get back. This is simply not true. It’s never to late. You can harness the power of incremental change over time and get back on track faster than you think.

Question: Where have you experienced the power of the drift? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Dave Hearn

    Great analogy Michael… and good point!  If we don’t control of our lives, our lives will take control of us.   

    As I look back on times when I was more depressed, more unfulfilled, I realized they were times when I wasn’t “going confidently in the direction of my dreams” …  

    • Rod

      Great point, Dave! ” If we don’t control of our lives, our lives will take control of us.” It amazes me how many people just live for today without even attempting to plan for tomorrow.  

      • Robert Ewoldt

        We can’t let life happen to us; we have to direct our time where to go and what to do.

    • Blueeyz

      I just saw this today, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any” – Alice Walker

  • Bobby F

    great post, really enjoyed reading it.

  • Chris Einwechter

    Thanks Michael, for me I think the biggest hindrance is to say, “It’s too late why bother?” But as you point out it’s never to late to get back on track, especially when you have a plan. Thanks for the encouragement. 

    • Joe Abraham

      That’s true Chris. A ‘too-late’ thought is an early sign of quitting! 

    • Michael Hyatt

      You are welcome. I sometimes wonder, what if you were 70 and decided you were too old to make any changes. Then you lived to be 95? That’s another 25 years!

  • Craig Jarrow

    Powerful stuff. Powerful story.

    Great analogy…  too many people wake up at some point in their life and realize they are far from where they wanted to be.

    Having a life plan is the best way to avoid being “driftwood on the river of life.”

    Thanks, Michael!

  • Joe Abraham

    ‘Life planning’ is a powerful concept that has impacted my life. As you splendidly pointed out through your life-example, I remember the times when I drifted from my life-plan and settled to enjoy the things that came my way.

    I think one of the reasons we tend to drift is to avoid the ‘stretching’ associated with our life-plans. Following a life-plan is like mountaineering. You got to be focused, determined and disciplined. Truth is, sometimes we hate this! And we give in. But wise and blessed is the one who retreats to his life-plan for magnificent is his reward!

    • Rod

      I think you hit the nail on the head, Joe, ”
      But wise and blessed is the one who retreats to his life-plan for magnificent is his reward!” Stretching and growing is a big part of our lives and one most don’t care for. But, how can we ever stretch our faith if we aren’t willing to stretch our thinking beyond what are lives currently are?

      • Joe Abraham

        That’s right, Rod. One’s ability to believe is closely connected to the broadness of his thinking. To follow our life-plans, we have to work on both areas.

  • Ben Lichtenwalner

    What I love about your story (amazing, by the way – so glad you two are good swimmers!), is that it underscores just how hard we must work. The current is strong, even if it does not seem that way. Every day it is easy to say, “I’ll just wait one more day before I exercise” or “I’ll reinforce my love for my wife tomorrow” or… However, every day is one more day you may slip further from shore.

    Thanks to your examples, Michael, I realized just how critical it was to me to support the servant leadership movement. Following your life plan example I’m now swimming hard against that current – and others. Thanks.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Ben. I am glad you are swimming. It seems to be one or the other, doesn’t it? EIther we are drifting away or swimming toward.

  • John Saddington

    yikes… the feeling of being adrift and too far from shore… makes me feel ill…!

  • Kary Oberbrunner

    Wonderful practical parable. Thanks Michael.

  • Doubleriver

    Micheal… how is it that you seem to read my mail?  Often, during transitional periods, from one season to another, there is a bit of drift that naturally occurs.  We often need the Holy Spirit to provide some GPS assistance to us, but graciously, He is always available. Thanks MH

    • Rod

      I like that, the Holy spirit is our GPS and internal guide down the rivers of life…

  • Jacqui_gatehouse

    Fantastic post Michael.  So many people just wait to ‘see what happens’ instead of taking control of their own lives.  Then they wonder why they haven’t been as successful as they wished – yet they still seem to feel hard done by as the universe should have delivered whatever it was they were looking for!  Get real, get out there and take charge of your own destiny…

    • Joe Lalonde

      Great point Jacqui. When I read of that, I thought of the occupy wall street protest going on. A lot of those people never took control of their life and are blaming others for where they are at.

  • Kay

    Powerful, emotional analogy. Thanks.

    I’m aware too, that as we spend years drifting with the tide, we don’t develop the muscles we need to swim against it, making the final push more difficult. It is much easier to be purposeful in our direction day by day. For that to happen, we need to have a target and to keep it in our focus at all times.

  • tommylane

    What a captivating story and excellent application to life. I’m glad you and your wife made it back to shore. There are some who would have panicked and lost their lives. I feel adrift at the moment and need to follow your advice. Thanks, Mike!

    • Rod

      Whenever I feel adrift, I stop struggling in the water, float, re access my goals, and then swim furiously toward them! 

  • Lautsbaugh

    I agree. This mentality helped me to recently take a risk and go for one of my dreams. The image of me sitting on a porch swing stuck in regret, enabled me to put in the time and work to make the dream a reality. Now, I attempt to have these evaluation points on a monthly basis to evaluate my ministry.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Robert Hutchins

    This is exactly where I am at right now.  About a year and a half ago, I lost my job in the insurance industry.  I had been dealing with claims for almost 20 years.  Not being able to find a job and having 3 kids, we decided to move in with family to try and conserve money by limiting expenses.  Over the course of the past year and a half, I have been long term unemployed, my two year old son has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, my 4 year old daughter, who was born with spina bifida is now having bladder problems, which we just found out about and my 10 year old step son was recently diagnosed with tourettes, ADD and speech delay.   Talk about looking up and finding ourselves in unchartered waters, where we never expected to be!!  LOL  Now I am 1 of 4 directors for an autism non profit (  as well as the Corporate Risk Manager.  I don’t get paid for this, but we really need advocates in our area of Texas for those dealing with autism.  Last year God impressed upon me to do more for him, so I also started to have an online prescence to witness to people online.    I am also an active twitter user and I am trying to help promote the Christian book that my wife recently completed and is trying to get published.  I have also gone from always trusting God to meet our needs to wondering if he has fallen asleep at the wheel and then back again several times.  Sometimes life throws us a curve ball (3 times in our case) and you just have to make your way through and look for opportunities.  And keep trusting that God will get you through whatever situation you are in.  

    • Michael Hyatt

      Wow. My heart goes out to you. I am glad you are swimming, even if the destination isn’t yet clear. Hang in there!

    • Cynthia Herron

      I wanted to let you know, Robert, I am lifting you and your family up in prayer just now. :)

    • Rod

      Hey, Robert, I’m glad you’re staying positive throughout all of this. Most importantly, like Michael said, you’re swimming and not drowning! Keep moving man, God never puts more on you than you can bear [even though it seems the opposite] and he always gives you a way to escape. Use your blog and stay consistent with it. I’m sure, God’s got a blessing on the other side of your trials for you. Stay faithful!

    • Joe Lalonde

      Robert, I feel for you as it sounds like there is a lot being dumped on your plate. We will be praying for you and your family during this time.

      However, it seems like you’re doing quite a few things right. You’ve taken action by volunteering for the non-profit(thus getting more experience), starting an online site, and more. Any one of those things may lead you to better, more gainful employment opportunities.

    • Anonymous

      Praying for you, Robert.

  • Suttonparks

    Yes, this can also work another way.  I find that I lose some weight, then fall back into sloppy habits and gain it back.  The same with money and career.  I never hit my initial goal and somewhere along the way, when I’ve achieved a portion of my original goal, I let up.  Perhaps being in the riptide has become comfortable to me?  I recognize the pattern I’m in but need to build up some momentum to break out of it and reach the shore.  I love the analogy and perhaps I can use it as a way to start a more permanent path to change in my life.  

  • Dr. Brad Semp

    Awesome story, Mike!  It is so easy to get caught up with life (either in busyness or while taking part in specific, meaningful action as Gail and yourself were doing on vacation) and before you know it you have fallen away from the path.  Thanks for the reminder and driving it home using your personal experience.

    On another note, congratulations on setting up your own “Email Mgmt” system.  I tried to slip a personal email through your gatekeeper last week to no avail.  :)

    Have a great week,

    • Michael Hyatt

      Ha! She’s good! ;-)

  • Guest

    Yes, I am a victim of the Drift.  I am 58 and I hate my life.   I hate my house.  I hate my marriage.  I hate myself.  I’m not interested in my kids anymore.  My life seems worthless and I just want to get it over with.  I lie in bed wishing I would die.  If I get cancer I won’t bother to treat it.  Drifting out to see in Maui and drowning seems wonderful compared to my life now. 

    • Diana

      I felt that way a couple of years ago.  Something had to change.  I made an appointment at our church’s counseling center and selected a “course correction.”  It takes time, but the books that helped me most were “Leading on Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion” by Wayne Cordiero and “Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Way In An Extroverted Culture” by Adam McHugh.  (Sorry MH, neither published by TN)  Find a good friend and a good counselor and trust them to help you find the way ahead.

      • Michael Hyatt

        Both of those sound excellent. (Even I admit that occasionally other companies publish good books!)

        • Adam S McHugh

          I sent you a copy of my book a while back Michael. :)

      • Adam S McHugh

        Wow! I’m truly honored that God would use my book as part of your healing process Diana.

    • Stephen L. Fox

      I would never pretend to understand the specifics of your circumstance, but I will be so bold as to offer advice that’s helped me in the past.  I’ll even present it in bullet-list format in honor of Mr. Hyatt:

      • Relationships degrade naturally.  It’s only with consecration by God that they endure, and hard work that they improve.  When you feel trapped by relationships, fight and push to inject love.  Most often, you’ll be met with resistance until you prove that it’s a sincere effort.  If you can fight the awkwardness though, God will be faithful and either mend the current relationships, or send you refuge in another form.

      • Stay away from extreme language like “hate.”  While you may feel it’s appropriate; it almost never is.  Instead, your words only strengthen those negative statements and pull you toward a course that isn’t helpful.  “Hate” is a word used to beg for help, or express emotion that you feel is unjustified.  Even when you think it’s the right word, try something else instead.  Remember, your mouth is your soul’s rudder.

      • Fight.  Fight to improve.  Fight to be heard.  Fight to find what’s good in life.  If you have a home to hate, you’re better off than the vast majority of the world. 

      • Even when things are hopeless, we have hope in the reality that Christ chose to step down from bliss into chaos and true hate.  Talk to him.  He’s the motivator of all kindess and the origin of all peace.  Don’t throw your words on him though; be patient and listen for real kindness.  It’s usually more difficult than the current course, but always leads to peace and strength.

      You are loved, even when you don’t see or understand it.

  • John Richardson

    The first thing that came to mind after reading this… you and Gail should enter a Triathlon. It would seem easy in comparison. 

    Back in 2004, I was at a Toastmasters conference, and the speaker asked me directly… What Time Is It? I realized right then that I was adrift in tomorrows. I would start a diet tomorrow. I would start a new class next week, I would write that book…sometime.

    Those four little words changed my life.

    I walked out of there with the realization, that the only time you can do something is TODAY. And the only time you can take action is NOW.

    Truly, you have to give a DAM about your life.

    Dream: You have to Dream big, bold, and important dreams. Then write them down.
    Action: You have to take Action. Take one step each day towards your goal.
    Motivation: Remind yourself of the importance of living your dreams for yourself and others.

    A great place to start is with a life plan

    And the time to start is now.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, John. I have heard you tell that story before, and it is a great one. I am glad you got your wake-up call!

    • Jeff Randleman

      Great input! Thanks!

    • TNeal

      Like Mike, I remember your story but the “give a DAM” in an excellent addition (as well as an attention-getting statement). Good stuff.

      • John Richardson

        Thanks, Tom. So many of us have given up and are just drifting through life. If we don’t care about our lives and our future, how can we expect anyone else to help us succeed.

  • Uma Maheswaran S

    I remember an old saying, “The team that makes the most mistakes probably wins.” It is true that the doer in life makes mistakes. However, when the mistakes get repeated and are the result of poor preparation or sloppy execution, then it’s time for immediate wake up call. Proverbs 26:11 asserts, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” It’s important that we drift wisely and not make same kind of mistakes again and again.
    One example from the Bible is Samson. He was a man whose main purpose was pleasure. He drifted but never recovered from the deviation in his life. He was a person of great physical strength but of total selfishness of purpose. His largest pleasures were spending time with various women and his ability to best others in often pointless physical combat.
    Samson’s first action (when we meet him in Judges 14) is an act of sensual pleasure. It was the beginning of a series of affairs that led to Samson’s betrayal and death. Unfortunately, Samson was not a leader of his people. The Bible says nothing of his organizational or inspirational abilities. He left no legacy except revenge and destruction.
    I think drifting is fine (as we all are humans) but failing to recover from the drift can prove to be fatal.

    I agree life planners can be compass in our lives guiding our journey in the right path. Otherwise,  it will be similar to playing football without any goal post.

  • Juan

    Great analogy to life, most people “don’t plan to fail, most people fail to plan” specially fail to plan on the BIG rocks of their lives, independence or retirement, I found out most don’t even speak with their significant others.

  • Dan

    Michael, how true.  I recently left my day job to work for myself.  Something that I have wanted to do for far too may years.  With a 2 year old grandson close by it is far too easy to cut my days short or not do anything at all.  I have had to make what I plan to do a priority.  Like the Nike famous slogan, “Just Do It.”  Part of this is saying no to requests much more than I would like to.  

  • David Manning

    Thanks!  I needed this “locker room” speech this morning.  Reflecting on God’s new mercies and great faithfulness.

  • Worthdwx

    I just want to say how much I appreciated receiving this. I have not been signed up for long, but when caught in the drift, it feels great to have something like this pop up on my blackberry while im out and about. Really helps to refocus especially when work, studies or whatever you may be caught up in. Thanks

    • Michael Hyatt

      Great. I am so glad.

  • Dan McCoy

    Drift – Aha- Yes I experience it every time I dont’ get up, and do my power hour.   Spending time in the Word, exercising, be grateful (and telling someone so), feeding my financial, social and mental states.   I do this through a strucutured power hour each morning.  It sets the stage to face life.

    So here’s my gratitude for the day.   Michael, Thanks for being a leader and voice in this community. Thank you for standaning strong in a world where opportunity to drift comes up each day. Thank you for fulfilling your soul purpose in writing and life.   Thank you for the role model you create.

     I align so much with this voice because it aligns so much with what my business/life coach Garrett Gunderson has taught me.   If you think to check out his book (Killing Sacred Cows)  you’ll see what I mean.  In fact I just recommended he see what he can do to get you out to his event next year.   He was the one who introduced me to Sean Stephenson whose book you are/have reading/read.

    Dave Crenshaw is another powerful voice in this arena too.   My marketing coach introduced me to him and Garrett.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for the leads and the links. I will check them out. Best.

  • Grant

    Recently attended the SCORRE conference in Vail.  I had become a victim of this drift, largely due to taking the path of least persistence and least resistance.  SCORRE was great, and your blog is the icing on the cake.

    Jackson, MO

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Grant. I’m so glad you enjoyed SCORRE. Me, too!

  • mb

    The majority of my age, I spiritually drifted to where shore wasnt even visible.  In fact, I met my ex-wife out in the sea.  Our morale’s were not godly.  We werent even luke warm at best.  Like your boogie board, we had no rescue plan or a way we could recover and find shore.  We both failed at our marriage.  As partners, we further drifted away from each other in the sea.  We continued to drift and drift until I realized I was not going to make it.  I realized that God is the only way.  God had saved me from drowning and brought me back to shore to eat.  I consider myself a new believer.  Michael, I consider your blogs a source of mentorship to me.  Thank you for everything.  You have helped change my life.

  • Rsr777

    Michael…I found myself in that place after my husband passed…but you are right…it is never too late…if you work at it…I have arrived back safe and sound on shore with a new zest and passion for life. Great article!!!  Sharon

    • Michael Hyatt

      Great. Welcome ashore!

  • Patricia Raybon

    Great question, Michael. In fact, I’m interviewing Arthur Blessitt this morning for Charles Stanley’s In Touch Magazine. In Blessitt’s book, The Cross, about his worldwide walk with the cross, he describes how NOT to drift on the road of life by asking God “two big questions.” Where do you want me to go? Who do you want me to reach? Heeding that, Blessitt says, we don’t get lost on the journey. A great challenge for all of us. Thank you, indeed, for your timely post.

  • Cathryn Hasek

    I am a complete victim of “the drift.”  I have played caregiver for my family for over eight years now.  I felt I was doing my duty as a family member by giving up my life to care for those that have always cared for me.  I was correct in doing so, to a point, however I now find myself “adrift” in complete wonder at where to go now that all of my immediate family members are gone and no one is left but me!

    People have told me that it must be amazing to be able to, all of the sudden, do anything you want to do with your life.  But if you have never envisioned what that “anything you want” could be, it is difficult to obtain it. 

    I am now left to dig out of my sluggardness, the lazy feeling of not wanting to pursue a goal because I never had to before.  I write about my journey through “The Thorn Hedge” toward the “level highway,” on my blog.

    I believe where myself and countless others miss out, is when we decide that we are responsible “for” people, and not just “to” them.  Once you give up your life plan for someone(s), it is very hard to dig you way back out of the brambles that hold you in.  No matter who the someone(s) is.


  • James Pinnick

    When my wife was diagnosed with cancer, my drift instantly became cutshort short. I love when you say “Decide where you want to go. The essence of life planning is envisioning a better future. Let yourself dream. ”

    For some reason, I dont get as nervous as before in certain situations. Life is life. I’m grateful to have some remaining for whatever reason. I hope its to share the good news!

    Author-The Last Seven Pages

    • Anonymous

      Just subscribed to your blog.  Looking forward to reading your stuff.

  • Teresa Bakker

    What a powerful message today.   Thank you for sharing it. 

  • Karen B

    Thanks for this post. It’s like a double espresso shot on this mundane Monday morning. Over a decade ago, I said I’d like to write a book. That was in my 30’s. Now in my mid 40’s, I have a slew of scribbled starts and more than a dozen halfway done. Life with three kids, a  husband & three house moves are a engaging reef  (and a great blessing) to explore. The great “shore of the published work” seems miles and miles away. And yet, such a pretty sight. Your article was encouraging… I need to start swimming.

  • Tonia

    I’ve been drifting since high school and let me tell you, you eventually reach a point where you realize that you have wasted so much time just waiting for the next chapter of your life to start that it can be so discouraging! Your post is spot-on for me this morning…I recently started “training” for a 5k fun run in our little town and I finally realize that once you have a plan and set goals and deadlines for yourself, you can actually see what you have accomplished. I guess this same mindset relates to the planning of our lives…just wish I had figured this out about 20 years ago!

    • Michael Hyatt

      I’m glad to hear that you are making progress on your 5K. You’ll find that this kind of goal creates leverage for you in other areas of your life as well.

  • Chris Neiger

    Great story and really good advice. I downloaded your book several months ago and it’s encouraged me to have a plan for the things I want to accomplish. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Rob Sorbo

    My parents are missionaries to Indonesia, so most of our family vacations when I was growing up were in Bali. I have several stories similar to this (getting pulled way out into the ocean and nearly drowning). The worst I experienced was when I was swimming and got pulled into an area marked off for surfers. I was swimming for my life in 15+ foot waves while trying to dodge surf boards.

    On the shoreline the surfing area was marked off with flags. To continue with your metaphor, you need “warning flags” in your life plan to let you know when you’re getting off course. 

  • S Russell


    Without getting into details, I’ve long felt my life is in a rut. However, I think your drift analogy is much more accurate and scary. When you’re in a rut, you might feel stuck in one direction, but you’re still on the road and have some idea where you’re headed. But if you’re in a drift, who knows how far out to sea you’ll get unless you actively swim against it.

    Thanks for the wake up call.

  • Marv

    It’s my 6oth birthday today – Kind of sobering! Over the last 40 years I’ve served several congregations, thousands of students as a seminary prof, and now lead a couple of national organizations. Most people would think that my life is drift-free… and I’d like to pretend that it is, but before I opened this blog post this morning I had already done some hard self-assessment and had come to the conclusion that movement based mostly on momentum is a form of drifting I need to be really cautious of.  Coasting into the finish line is not an option. My effectiveness as a leader today will not be defined by what I’ve done in the past, but by what I do today in preparation for tomorrow and all the tomorrows God might grant me. Thanks Michael. I needed this reminder. I’ll consider it a birthday gift from you! 

    • Michael Hyatt

      Great, Marv. Just a thought, but what if everything in your life so far has been a preparation for what is next. Wow.

    • TNeal

      Appreciate your reflection and honesty with my own 60th birthday looming a few years down the road.

  • Peter Guirguis

    I have a couple of questions Michael, that I’d like to kindly ask you.  I’m a big fan of your blog and I read it daily. I understand that the purpose of your blog is mostly to help people create a life plan. Here are my questions:

    1)  I’m sure that you know this proverb that says, “A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”  May I please ask you how this Bible verse applies to those who create a life plan? To me it sounds like creating a life plan could be not very helpful when the Lord has other plans for our lives that we don’t know?

    2)  The other verse that comes to mind when thinking about a life plan is Jeremiah 33:3 which I’m sure that you know too. “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

    It seems to me like the Lord has plans for our lives that we don’t know about and that He doesn’t reveal them to us all at one time. It seems to me like it’s more like on a step per step basis. If you agree with that, then may I please ask you how a life plan would be helpful if I don’t know all the plans that the Lord has for my life?

    Thanks so much for allowing me to ask my questions :-)

    • Keith

      Great questions, two other questions that have not had a straightforward answer to me is:

      “how do I prevent drift but at the same time be open to the special/mysterious tug of the Holy Spirit?”

      and similarly

      “how do I prevent drift but give myself time to ponder and meditate on God’s Word to understand His whole plan for His mankind and for me specifically?”

      Scripture citations would be particularly appreciated, many thanks!  Keith

      • Peter Guirguis

        Thanks Keith, I really liked your questions too :-)

      • Jack Lynady

        Matt 25: 14-30. Live and invest your life intentionally. Part of that is having a plan.

    • srussell

      Hi Peter. I ain’t know Michael Hyatt, but I do have an opinion about your questions.

      Reading proverbs, the Bible also says we should take responsibility to plan and act for the future (such as the ant gathering for winter).

      Also, it is definitely possible for the Lord to direct us as we make our life plan. For example, a pastor will pray for the Lord to tell him what to speak about on Sunday but also prepare a sermon, studying to show himself approved.

      Finally, even as we make our plans, if we go in the wrong direction, the Lord as a Loving Father and a Faithful Shepherd, will lead us back in the right direction. And no matter what we plan, He reserves the right to interrupt us any point along the way.  Even so, that does not take away our responsibility to prayerfully plan for ourselves.

      • Peter Guirguis

        Those are some very good points that you make S. Russell and I totally agree with you. I just wanted to get Michael’s opinion on the matter but your opinion definitely goes along way. Thanks for sharing that with me :-)

    • Michael Hyatt

      Great questions, Peter. Proverbs 16:9 (the one you quoted first) is one of my favorites. I interpret this way. “Go ahead and plan your way, but always submit your plans to the Lord and acknowledge that He can (and often will) override them any time He chooses.
      There are numerous examples of people planning in the Bible, from Joseph who prepares Egypt for an upcoming famine to Paul who made plans to visit Rome on his way to Spain (Romans 15:23-32) and prepared for future ministry after his release from imprisonment (Philippians 1:19-26).
      I always begin in prayer and ask God to show me His will. I also keep my hands open, realizing that he can intervene at any time. I wrote on this here: Don’t Leave God Out of Your Plans.

      • Peter Guirguis

        Thanks so much Michael for responding to my post, I really appreciate it. I do think that there are so many benefits to creating a life plan and that’s why I follow your blog. The main purpose of my questions was just to find out how this fits into Scripture and you answered perfectly :-

  • Agatha Nolen

    Michael, great post, particularly for us middle-agers. Many of us have an unfulfilled “direction” that was clear when we were 20. Now it is time to go back to the well and define what is really important. I wrote a blog last week called OUT OF SCOPE, talking about how we often take on reponsibiliies that God never asked us to…and then we dilute out our ministries. We use the “SCOPE” test all the time in business. It applies in our personal lives as well. The story is at:

  • Cynthia Herron

    I experienced “the drift” several years ago when a family member was critically ill. For some time, I could only focus on getting from one day to the next, because literally my focus was on keeping him alive.

    God eventually gave us a victory over the circumstances–not the path we would have chosen, but He saw the bigger picture where we didn’t.

    I’ve always been a goal-setter, but this experience helped refine my priorities in life, and caused me to grow in ways I hadn’t imagined. Now, if I feel tempted to get off track, I place those written goals before me around the perimeter of my office. The power of visualization is a huge motivator for me.

    • Jeff Randleman

      I can relate to your struggle.  I dealt with much the same situation with my dad this summer.  It’s been several months of living day to day without being able to focus on the future.

  • Samuel Stone

    Michael, I struggle with this life planning issue since I was young, and did some serious planning after I read Stephen Covey’s books.  It didn’t seem to work the way you guys describe.

    Where I am now seems to be beyond my wildest dream (it doesn’t mean that I am super successful like you).  Looking back, I could never imagine where I am now because I have no knowledge of my destination.  I am a hillbilly from Burma and I am now living Bergen County, New Jersey.  When I arrived in the U.S., I found out it was a thousand times better than the U.S. in the imagination of a third world rube.

    I don’t know how to balance this life planning thing with what God has planned for me.  Sometimes, I thank God that he didn’t let my plan happen, or I would have missed the greater plan He has for me. 

    But I do see what you mean.  Some of my friends do drift to the undesired places without a plan.  The hardest part for me is the imagination of the destination.  How do a person from the hills of Southeast Asia, who has no Internet or information about New York City, imagine his destination?



    • Michael Hyatt

      How do we imagine our destination? I think we dream, knowing that we get more clarity as we approach the destination. Thanks for your story.

  • Suzanne

    I think the key phrase is “Yes, it will take work”, but it is so worth it!!  Awareness is the beginning of all change, the next step is typically the hardest.  Thank you for your inspiration Micheal!

  • Ava Jae

    What a fantastic analogy. Drifting away from our life goals is certainly an easy thing to slip into if you don’t stay focused. Thanks for the great reminder. 

  • Charlie Lyons

    I was a hapless victim of “the drift” until I was introduced to “Creating Your Life Plan” back in late March. Initially upon desiring to change direction, I too felt like it was too late and it would never happen, even at my relatively young age. The incremental changes you suggested helped me get on the right track literally within hours. I’m so glad for your insight and encouragement. My life (and my family subsequently) is in a different and better spot now than before being introduced to your resources. Thank you again.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for sharing your story, Charlie. I am so happy it has worked out.

  • Krissi

    This story illustrates this post SO well. I will be rereading this post this week to get the most out of it. The days that your blog really speaks to me, I keep it in my email inbox & reread several/many times. Thank you! The photo makes this come alive! No drifting aimlessly for me…I’m in a race!

  • Extreme John

    Life is full of surprises and unexpected events. We may never know what will happen to us for the next minute, hour or day. It is really hard to avoid these happenings. That is why we must carefully look into our lives, appreciate it and live to your heart’s content because maybe you will regret that someday you may not achieve that thing. Anyway, you’ve got a really great post Michael. I had a great time reading this article. Thanks!

  • Oodihi

    Great post. I have your Life plan book and I’m using it.

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  • Sundi Jo Graham

    We can get easily off the path, or at least I can, by taking focus off one vision without finishing what we started on the other vision of our lives. 

  • Anonymous

    Great story and great post. It’s so true you have to plan.  This year nothing has worked as I orignially planned but I’m achieving every single one of my goals for the year.  It’s prov 16:9 in action: “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps”.  There’s something to sitting down, planning and then trusting God. I’m convinced with out the plan I would be drifting & achieving nothing.

  • Fran Carona

    There are so many forces that pull us away from our true path!  I must say no to the good in order to say yes to the best!

  • kimanzi constable

    I like how you point out it’s never too late if you have drifted.  I think we live in a “now” society, we don’t take too much thought for our future.

  • Kevin Wax

    Thanks for a truly scary illustration from your own life. Might be another post in there about how good and beautiful things can distract us, too. Great article.

  • canderson

    Another de-railer to be mindful of is the “creep”. I’ve hear it referred to as mission creep. When you start out with a healthy focus and, after some success, are tempted to broaden and expand until what you do is no longer clear and you’re not sure what to say ‘yes’ to and what to say ‘no’ to.

    • Keith

      excellent point, “Mission Creep” is a term I have used many times in the past in former secular and ministry positions. It is deadly and has huge potential for all sorts of damage. Drove me and my people crazy when the Senior Executive would helicopter in, ask all sorts of uninformed questions of staffers, and then call me into his office to tell me how things were going to be done differently toward a different goal…

    • TNeal

      Good analogy–Jesus would liken this to a seed planted growing well until choked out by weeds. ” “Creep” addresses diligence as well as direction.

  • Eric

    That’s a great example of drifting and life planning. I’ve experienced the power of the drift in my exercise routine. I’ve drifted away from what I was doing and it has caught up with me. This is a good reminder to start paddling (cycling) back to the shore!

  • Rod

    Great post, Michael, unfortunately, some people are still “stuck on shore” and aren’t even in a boat yet! They’ve found themselves on the islands of “mediocre, just enough, short-term planning.” I think another portion of avoiding the drift is to also get in a boat with a guide. Having a plan and working that plan is great, but a guide can show you where the best route is for the place you’re trying to go. 

  • Sariwati

    Thanks much, Michael. I’ve been reading your blog these past few months, and your writings are really inspiring. And this one reminds me that if we are not careful, we will be carried away from our main goal, and how important it is to have a life plan.  Good point!

  • Jeff Randleman

    Allowing yourself to drift is simply too easy.  I find myself often saying things like, “I can do that tomorrow…”  And the “tomorrow” never comes because there’s another book to read, or movie to see, or…

    Creating a life plan has been a great catalyst for me to get out of that groove.  It’s really helped.  I need to refine it a bit more, it’s still rather bulky right now, but I’ve olny been using it for a year or so.  I’ll probably do that tomorrow…

  • Wanza Leftwich, TGW

    I certainly can relate! I recently had to wake up and see where I was and reevaluate my life.

  • Linda Gilley

    Thank you for this analogy.  After the loss of my husband I find myself drifting.  We had a life plan but somehow death seemed farther away.  Now that I’m alone at age 58 I have to come up with a new plan and I feel pretty clueless.  I pray for God’s direction and my pastor tells me it’s ok to drift until the Lord shows me the way.  I think your post has made me realize it’s time to get a plan for the rest of my life.  Thank you for your insight. 

  • Ramon Presson

    The drift can happen LATERALLY too.  I can remember one time playing with my son in the waves (not from shore, mind you ) and about 40 minutes later when we walked out of the surf I walked straight ahead toward our towels and cooler. But they were gone!  My first thought was, “Someone stole our stuff!”  I then realized none of the surrounding people looked familiar and the building behind the dunes was not our hotel.

    Of course, without our awareness, we had not been swept out to sea, but just nudged down the beach a good 50 yards from where we walked into the water. The lesson: A drift doesn’t have to lead you to DANGER, only to DISLOCATION in order to create problems.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Great amplification of the principle.

  • Brandon Weldy

    I am not extremely overweight but I am further along than I would like. I have tried and tried to take off a few pounds but nothing had worked. I was trying for pretty immediate change. I started the loseit program and over the last couple weeks have shed 3 or 4 pounds. It has been amazing! Seeing the change in that area of my life has encouraged me to take steps in a few other places as well!

  • Drusilla Mott

    Great lesson here, which can not only pertain to life as we live it; but also our faith and our walk with God.  If we are just drifting in our faith, we might find that the tide of sin has carried us far away from our Creator without our realizing it.  That, too, can be remedied with a turn in direction and a conscious move back toward where we should be.  Thanks, Michael.

  • Peter Scholtens

    Sometimes the drift is a good thing and you end up in beautiful places.

  • Jack Lynady

    Nice read Michael. I tend to drift in certain areas more than others. Finances being the main one. I can’t even see the shore on that one. I guess I will have to go celestial on that one. ;)

  • Eric Phillips

    I’ve tried to put a life plan together on multiple occasions and continually get stuck on the following question; “What do you want to do with your life?”. Different programs/plans phrase it differently; “What do you want to be doing in five years?”, “What are you passionate about?”, etc. 

    The problem is, I don’t know. I’ve prayed, searched and studied for the answer over the past few years. By most peoples standards, I’ve lived a fulfilling life. I have a wonderful wife and three children. I’ve excelled in my career and most other things I’ve committed to over the course of my adult life. But for some reason, I’m never fulfilled.

    I’ll be the first to admit that I have too much of my identity wrapped up in my work. I’m also a christian and understand the potential spiritual struggles. 

    A while ago I read a comment that went something like this; “The worst thing is to be good at something you don’t enjoy.” This statement sums me up personally. I’m very good at my job, but it doesn’t provide a lot of lasting personal satisfaction. At this point, I’m just working for the money.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Here’s another question that might give you some perspective: what do you do that makes you feel strong?

    • TNeal

      I’d suggest Jon Acuff’s book “Quitter” to help give you perspective on your current job and also to discover your future by reflecting on your past.

  • Kvang71

    Oh wow…the power of the drift! I think that is what I’m in right now. My life right now is pretty much a mid life crisis. You painted a beautiful picture with your illustration.

  • Idelette

    Another great post, Mike! I am leading my lifegroup girls (all of them in their 20s) in a discussion on purpose at the moment. We’re identifying their one sentences Daniel Pink-style and they’re also doing their Strengthsfinder 2.0 tests. I am sending them this link today. Thank you!

  • Joe Lalonde

    Living near Lake Michigan, we know the power and dangers of drifting. I never would have thought to use that type of analogy for our lives but it is true.

    I’ve found myself drifting a lot in my jobs. I’ve taken what I could and just went with the flow only to find myself unhappy. Thankfully I’ve been able to correct the drift a few times. It’s a reminder to not get comfortable.

  • Dale Aceron

    Really liked your post Michael!  I have experienced the power power of the drift many times.

    One of the latest for me is getting engulfed in Social Media without a true plan on how to do it effectively.  Sometimes I look up and realize that the world has moved on without me.

  • Chris Dushek

    Great analogy!  I think it can be related not only to the big “life”
    picture, but integrated into our everyday lives as well.  I’ve always thought the better aware we are,
    the better we understand our surroundings. In turn, looking ahead helps me
    reduce tunnel vision and stay on track. 
    Thanks Michael, Great Post

  • Rich Procter

    Wow! Great post, and perfectly timed for my life. I have been (pleasantly) drifting in what I thought was a steady job — only now I’m finding out it could end much sooner than I want! Talk about a wake up call! Time to “Decide Where I Want To Go.” Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Mike – your analogy is so powerful.  I find the most dangerous drifts for me are when things are going very well.  It’s easy to just drift – but then to discover a year later that I’ve gone to places other than those I had stated as my goal.  When things are a mess it’s easier to realize I’m off track – and to take immediate action.  I’m learning to pop my head up out of the water frequently, even if the view looking down is stunning.

    • Michael Hyatt

      That’s a really good point, Dan. Sometimes people drift further in prosperity than in hardship.

  • Anonymous

    Went back and reread the first two chapters of your e-book today.  Starting the process of the life plan.  Thanks for the reminder.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Good for you, Karl. Thanks.

  • elise

    The drift can be so subtle. Thanks for this powerful reminder. I do want to live life on purpose, but the tide of getting bogged down in the unimportant or at least lower priority can carry me out to sea!

  • GailHyatt

    That was a scary day!! I’ll never forget it. One more point I’d add to your three is, be careful that you’re not caught in the “Shiny Object Syndrome,” becoming distracting with whatever catches your attention while loosing site of the goal in mind. Great post, Babe.

  • Tobby

    Great wake-up call Michael. My wife and were hiking in Banff when our guide all the sudden stopped us and proceeded to point out the dozen beautiful pieces of nature we just walked past because we were so focused on getting from point a to point b. Whether he knew it or not, he was right on the money with me. We get so narrow focused on goals we can become oblivious to what’s happening around us during the journey. That trip was 3 years ago. Sorry to say I drifted again. Time to get back on track!

  • Jon Wellman

    Wrote a post on rip currents a while back, with slightly different conclusions…

  • Allison Allen

    What a wake-up call. What a beautifully “storied” post; I’ll never forget the image, and, hence, the lesson. Thank you, Mike.

  • Brent Pittman

    I feel like I’m getting to the shoreline and ready for change. 

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  • Anonymous

    This is a powerful image and analogy. My immediate challenge is trying to understand God’s plan for me so that I can take steps according to His will. The last few months have been, well, interesting. There’s comfort in the drift, as it allows me to have time and energy for other ministries. 

    When you’re trying to get out of a rip tide you have to swim parallel to shore, and that can be counter intuitive. I’m trusting that my current efforts to swim clear of the drift will lead me along the right path. 

  • Tom

    I resemble this life, matter of fact I could be the poster child for a drifted life. It’s not too late and I am excited to begin making incremental changes today!

  • Larry Galley

    Michael, while I support all three of you points, I would suggest an expansion of point three.  Having spent over 11 years as a navigator in the U.S. Navy I have logged thousands of hours navigating over  the earths oceans.  By definition a navigators function is to provide direction to get safely “from here to there”—wherever that is.  In order to successfully do that, two parameters are required.  You need to know WHERE YOU ARE and WHERE YOU WANT TO GO.

    It sounds simple enough but there is a slight problem.  Flying and life are both dynamic activities.  When you find out where you are you are no longer there, it’s where you were! 

    So what? 

    It is esssential to take IMMEDIATE action—while you are figuring out where you are—SO THAT you do not move further away from your intended goal and possibly put yourself in danger of not reaching that goal. Even though you may not know EXACTLY the right course to take—TURN IN THE GENERAL DIRECTION OF SUCCESS.  Once you have taken this first step you can now refine your heading to be more specific.  In navigation terms. It’s called a “sophisticated guess.”

    I find that I apply this principal daily as I approach the issues of my life.

    Larry Galley

    • Michael Hyatt

      Beautiful illustration. I agree completely. Also, to change the metaphor, it’s easier to steer a moving car than one that is parked!

  • Michaela

    A wonderful and inspiring article! Thx for sharing this with us!

  • Travis Dommert

    Great analogy!  With our fifth child arriving next week, I know we are about to drift some.  It seems each time we have had a baby, we have found ourselves first struggling for air, then gazing at the coral, then suddenly (like 6 months later) looking up to say “Whoa! We’d better get paddling again!”  This time perhaps I can do a little better at staying close to shore.

  • Louise Thaxton

    I loved the post!  I agree that “drifting” can be one of the most dangerous things that can happen to us – in work – in life – in our spiritual condition. 

    One of the most powerful sermons I ever heard was on “drifting”.  The evangelist used the analogy of an eagle landing on the carcass of a sheep which was floating down the river toward the Niagra Falls.  After getting settled on the carcass, the eagle got lazy and just sat there …..drifting down the river  – not paying attention to the falling icy mist.  For hours he did nothing but drift.  Suddenly, as the sound of the falls jarred him out of his apathy, the eagle realized the danger he was in and tried to lift his wings to soar above the certain death facing him.  But unfortunately his claws had become attached to the carcass – frozen into place.  Because he had failed to pay attention, he was now attached to something (something that was dead) that would take him over the edge and to his death. 

    Your post reminded me that we are to  PAY ATTENTION at all times.     

  • Robert Ewoldt

    Michael, I think I’ve experienced the power of drift many times, and I’m only in my late 20s.  Fortunately, I have a lot of time to implement the changes that you’ve suggested.  Thanks.

  • Jon

    I graduated from college with a degree in teaching . After one year of teaching I realized I need more money. I got a summer job in a blue collar trade. I doubled my wage. So, I stayed with the trade. This is my 32nd year in the trade. It might be the longest summer job on record.

    I now realize I have drifted off my course. This year I have become re-certified and am pursuing my first love…teaching.

  • TNeal

    I’m less than a week behind on your blog and approaching maximum read–post-church service and no writing plans for a Sunday afternoon. Excellent story, one I’ll Evernote for future reference.

    Your story fits well with this morning’s simple message in church–God’s got a plan (He’s not drifting) and you’ve got a part (so you don’t need to drift either). Well done.

  • Highres

    Great reminder Michael. I downloaded your life plan about 3 months ago.
    Which in of its self was a great victory. I even printed it and showed it to my wife.
    We had planned to plan our life plan together. I didn’t plan for the drift.
    The drift kicked in with heading into busy season. I deliver milk to Tim Hortons
    and 2 Cups. We were 5 days a week now every other week I am 6. Some days are 10+ hours.
    I took today to rest and think about the bigger picture.
    Thanks for this post.

    Drifted Milk Man

  • Terri Thompson

    I’m approaching 50 and still have trouble deciding where I want to go. In my twenties everything seemed so clear. After a few years out of college life had shifted in such a way that my goals were no longer possible. Marriage, children and 20 years later and I’m drifting. The things I love to do aren’t profitable and I don’t have money to go back to school. I’m not sure how to get started on a life plan. Thanks for your advice.

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  • Tradchrisj

    Hi thanks for your post. I am in my 40’s. I feel likde ive drifted most of my life. Ive tried different things but not all have worked out.  I thought I knew what I wanted when young. I trained as a registered nurse when young but it was really because I thought I wasnt capable of doing anything else. Emotionally I thought I had a little force threatening me that I had to do this becaue its the only thing I am able to do. In my family I was the emotional punching bag. I had obssesive thoughts about being a caregiver because I was made to care for my sick mother or get punched up by my father who Im sure looking back had OCD..this is a guy who gets up at 2am to check light switches.
    Anyway I did nursing. I had a lot of anxieties and insecurities and to be honest I hated the job. I was not practical. I drifted and travelled a lot over the years. I lived in utter fantasy.  I did get a job with the mentally disabled which was ok. I still have the job but its not very challenging. A large part of my story was I became alcoholic.I recovered from alcoholism at 34 and have been sober since then. I trained as a teacher in recovery but I havent been able to find a long term permanent job. Then, last eyar I found one. Unfortunatley, due to things beyond my control it started as 4 days a week but my position changed to 1 day a week.
     That would have been fine but there were no AA mtgs around and it was 400 kms from the big city where I have my friends and spiritual and social life, so  I resigned. Now I am back working with the disabled and I feel like Im a failure in life. Back in the same job I was in years ago, with a huge debt for a career I cant find a job in – or at least in a large metropolis. I constantly tell myself that : ‘the first time I find a permanent job I resign. Im an idiot.’ I know there r practical reasons but there is this voice in me that is against me. I mean a part of me that is almost against my best interests and says Im a failure no matter what happens, even though I have to try Im still going to fail and be humiliated.
    I dont know how to go forward. I dont think i’ll ever get a teaching job again. Ive thought of retraining which is another issue. Ive discovered that teaching had an ulterior motive for me too, I felt the children gave me the kindness I lacked inside for myself and the importance I craved. Im not that sort of person though anymore. I know myself more. I want to use my brain. Im very bright. I have a BA (Hons) in Philosophy a degree in Teachng a degree in Nursing (from years ago) and am just about to finish an MA in History. In recovery I began studying music, learning piano and guitar in recovery. I auditioned and got into a music school last year so now I am currently studying a degree in composition and music production as well as the MA mentioned above. Composition and music production-(music producer) is what I truly love but it doesnt make money and at my age though I have to realise that I  can’t afford to waste to much time. I have to have a career where I have long term permanent work. Im not getting younger. I am feeling sad and depessed. Im sorry for this long post. Thanks for letting me post.

  • Dan Erickson

    I appreciate the idea of “life planning” to an extent.  I’m not entirely sure that God means for us to have a detailed plans for every part of our lives.  Sometimes we have to move with his spirit and his plans may not include our plans.  Personally, I have planned for my career and retirement, as well as some other important considerations.  I also plan to continue to work on several writing projects including my website that looks at writing and songwriting as a form of therapy.

  • KristenLeighEvensen

    Michael, this is inspiring and oh so true.  I experienced the “drift” when I moved to NYC nine months ago.  People would ask, “What is your goal?”, and I had no definitive answer.  However, I knew I wanted God’s will and would follow Him wherever He went.  Today, I can humbly say I have a goal, a direction, and some clear desires–all of which the Lord took some drastic measures to reveal to me.  But now that I have some directives, every day I am excited to pursue working toward the goals!  It changes everything!  Thanks for this clarification.

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  • Juan

    In the rush of life day in and out we forget about what really matters, put on hold healthy, financial, medical matters until the pain is too sharp to avoid. Lack of discipline is the reason.

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  • Brian B Baker

    One of my favorite stories from the book. Moving forward to my goals was one of my major life-goals for the year and making the commitment to stick to it is going to be the hardest.

  • Richard Thomas

    Great Post

    George Adam Smith said,”God will have no drift-wood for His sacrifices, no drift-men for His ministers.”

  • Sonya

    So, after reading an article on drifting in a magazine then looking up this site and reading your story I realize I have been drifting ever since I graduated high school (27 years ago). I never followed my dreams/ambitions but rather what others expected of me. How do I stop drifting now after doing it for so long and not realizing it?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I would start by subscribing to my email newsletter and downloading my free ebook on creating a life plan.

  • Henry Huang

    super encouraging – thanks for the post