Back on Course: Counteracting Drift with Living Forward

Drift. It’s pretty much never a good thing. Several years ago we owned a small boat, and midway through one of our boating adventures, the motor abruptly quit. I suddenly realized that our boat had no anchor and we were literally drifting out to sea. If it hadn’t been for my wife’s frantic yells for help to other boats passing by, I wonder if our fate would have been similar to Gilligan’s!

The drift that is even more worrisome, though, is the drift we experience in life. As a 21-year-old graduating from the University of Florida, I had great plans and aspirations. With the world in front of me, I was quite confident I could conquer my goals and establish the life that I dreamed of.

Fast forward about 20 years; I stumbled across a book called Living Forward, by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy. The book’s premise is that there are specific areas in our life where we experience drift – a loss of focus. This idea resonated with me, especially when I reflected on my current life versus the life I had imagined when I was graduating from college. There were things about my life that I was not satisfied with.

The book suggests that through the power of focus, you can identify major life areas, which the authors call ‘accounts.’  After identifying these areas, you begin envisioning a future for each account, with goals that help move you forward from your current reality. While I have oversimplified this framework, the Living Forward process is simple enough that I was able to spend one day creating an intentional life plan.

It has now been two and a half years since I wrote that first life plan. Since then, every year on my birthday I redo my life plan. When I look back at the first life plan, I see great progress in areas where I felt my life was adrift. The three life accounts where I have gotten to see the most exciting progress are in my relationship with Christ, my relationship with my wife, and my relationship with exercise and my body.

When I first used this lens to reflect on my relationship with Christ, I realized that while I had consistently pursued an ongoing relationship with Jesus, I lacked ongoing fellowship and accountability. To counter this drift, I set some goals and asked some friends for help. I am now reading through the Bible during the year with two other friends, using the YouVersion Bible App, and every week I meet up with a close friend for accountability and friendship.

Then I surveyed my relationship with my wife. As our four children had gotten older and my schedule had gotten more complicated, my wife and I had begun to drift apart due to the sheer complexity of our life. Neither of us desired for that to happen; but it was happening. A simple commitment to a 2 o’clock cup of coffee every Sunday afternoon has been transformational and refocusing. Having a dedicated time to discuss and plan the week ahead has allowed us to be on the same page and prioritize the right things for our marriage and our family.

The third account I have seen transformed is my relationship with exercise and my body. Over the years, I had watched my weight creep up and my marathon time slow down. I had always had a goal weight of about 160 pounds but hovered closer to 180. When I created my life plan, I made a commitment to change my diet. This commitment resulted in my weight decreasing to around 150 pounds, 25% less than what I weighed when I was 30 years old.

At first glance this blog entry may feel like it is adrift from the normal blog posts I typically write about fundraisings because this book is primarily about being healthy personally.  But healthy people are more effective fundraisers. I can honestly say that this book has given me more focus than any book I’ve ever read. In fact, I have bought over 25 copies of this book and given it to many friends and coworkers! And today I want to recommend it to you.