“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900)
In the book, Outwitting the Devil, Napoleon Hill describes a prevalent habit among all people which brings about suffering and destruction. This habit is known as drifting. When someone drifts, the devil, so to speak, takes hold of their life and ends up doing the devil’s work for him. When I first heard that, I didn’t think it was true. But when then I thought about it longer, I realized that people end up making things worse when they are not deliberately and wholeheartedly aiming at a goal.
Drifter – noun – someone who has an uncertain direction in life and who does little thinking for themselves. This person accepts anything and everything that life throws at them and doesn’t put up a fight to get what they want. They probably have a great mind with amazing potential but are too lazy and indifferent to use it. A drifter has many options but none of them are their own.
Drifters practice the habit of drifting. They allow their lives to go wherever the wind blows and do not exercise their will to create a life that they would actually like. Drifters are aimless and there is nothing more dangerous than to be aimless. When we don’t aim at something, we allow space for something else to be created. That something else is always chaotic and much worse than any of us would like. I talk a little bit about this phenomena in my other post about the Reality-Possibility Exchange. If we do not choose what is created in front of us, then something less desirable will be created in its place and that is precisely what the devil, as discussed in Hill’s book, is trying to take advantage of. If we aren’t actively working towards something we want, then our lives will devolve into a mess created by the devil.
Drifting is extremely threatening and super common. Hill suggests about 98% of people are drifters. I think it’s more around 99%.
How do I know if I’m a drifter?
- If all the options in front of you seem lifeless and boring
- If your life seems to be filled with unfair circumstances that crush you under the weight of their significance
- If you find yourself avoiding and ignoring different aspects of your life
- If you find that your life is filled with negativity and are constantly wondering how all of the suffering you are experiencing got there in the first place
- If you feel as if you are not where you want to be and it seems like that place is a far and distant land that you will never see
It sounds as if all negative and unpleasant experiences come from drifting behavior, but what about circumstances that are truly terrible and did not come about from our behavior?
There will be many life circumstances that are not ideal but it is always possible to get out of any situation and reach any goal that you set for yourself. There are people who have came from worse situations and achieved more success that you are aiming for. Our negative and unpleasant experiences comes from our judgement of our situations, not from the actual situations themselves. As long as we don’t simply accept what life throws at us but embrace it and try to live in a way that emulates our ideals, then we will not become victims of our situations but the architects of our lives.
You can identify yourself as a drifter through examining your feelings but you can also see it in our actions as well. If you notice someone acting like a drifter, I recommend being mindful of getting trapped by their magnetic field of purposelessness. Drifting is contagious.
24 Other Signs of Drifters from Outwitting The Devil
They never accomplish anything requiring thought and effort.
They are conspicuous by their lack of self-confidence.
They spend all they earn and more too, if they can get credit.
They have little or no imagination.
They are ill-tempered and lack control of their emotions.
They lack enthusiasm and initiative to begin anything they are not forced to undertake, and express their weakness by taking the line of least resistance whenever they can.
They will be sick or ailing from some real or imaginary cause, and calling to high heaven if they suffer the least physical pain.
They have opinions on everything but accurate knowledge of nothing.
Their personality is without magnetism and does not attract other people.
They may be a jack of all trades but good at none.
They neglect to cooperate with those around them, even those on whom they must depend for food and shelter.
They make the same mistake over and over again, never profiting by failure.
They never reach decisions on anything if they can avoid it, and if they are forced to decide they reverse themselves at the first opportunity.
They eat too much and exercise too little.
They are narrow-minded and intolerant on all subjects, ready to crucify those who may disagree with them.
They begin many things but complete nothing.
They take a drink of liquor if someone else will pay for it.
They are loud in their condemnation of their government, but they never tell you definitely how it can be improved.
They gamble if they can do it “on the cuff”.
They criticize others who are succeeding in their chosen calling.
If they work for others, they criticize them to their backs and flatter them to their faces.
They work harder to get out of thinking than most others work in earning a good living.
They expect everything of others but are willing to give little or nothing in return.
They tell a lie rather than admit their ignorance on any subject.
What would happen if I maintain my identity as a drifter?
Choosing to remain a drifter will cause to us fail without even knowing. Most people don’t want to direct themselves to something specific because it becomes glaringly apparent when we fail, and we hate failing. But when we refuse to specify our criteria for failure we still fail, but significantly worse because we’re not aware that we’re failing.
Every day that we’re not dedicated to something, we’re still not doing the things we need to do to get where we want even if we don’t know it. One day we may find ourselves in a terrible life situation asking “Where did it all go wrong?” or “How did my life get this way?” and it will all be due to our repeated failure over the years. It would be better to set a goal and know when we are failing because at least we will have the ability to do something about it. It is possible to fail and not know it.
Do yourself a favor and live with clarity, learn what is failure and what is not. Pretending that it doesn’t exist, does not mean that it is not happening. It hurts to fail, but it hurts more to hate your existence. If we do not create the best for ourselves, the worst will be given to us. Give yourself a fighting chance.
“Many a false step was made by standing still.”Timothy Ferriss (1977 – )
How do I stop becoming a drifter?
The best way to stop being a drifter is to live with definitive purpose. We must aim at a goal with purpose that inspires us to bring out the best in ourselves. Our purpose should be something so much bigger than us that we cannot help but to live in service of it. Purpose makes life worth living and can even make the most mundane tasks seem exciting and pleasurable.
Being purpose driven is the best antidote to aimlessness. With a definitive purpose, learning will not have to be a difficult task that feels like a waste of time but as a way to develop ourselves in the skills necessary to reach our goals. Definitive purpose helps us find reasons to be engaged in things. It makes being present so much easier, which enriches the experience of our lives.
Watching ourselves take actions that move us closer to fulfilling our goals brings us happiness and fulfillment. We feel positive emotion when we move closer to a goal. Which means, in order to feel happy or fulfilled we first need a clear and definite goal, then we need to chase it down.
Some benefits of being aligned with our true purpose:
- We will always be determined to bring it about no matter long it takes or the price that must be paid.
- Once we have our purpose, we will no longer explain away our current situations. We will have the power to create the opportunities that we need to bring about our ideal lives.
- It provides us with many feelings of accomplishment and we will be happier watching ourselves move towards our purpose.
- We will be able to easily admit when we do not know the answers
- We will always be able to take responsibility for our mistakes and have the strength to never blame others
- We will have a mind of our own and be an inspiration to all those who are familiar with us
- We will be able to extend to help to many other people while simultaneously accepting few or no favors for ourselves
- We will never need an excuse for our shortcomings, they will appear as mere areas of impending improvement
I believe that most people are drifters and the people who aren’t drifters have to work really hard to not end up falling back into drifter-esque actions. Personally, fighting drifting is an every day battle and I have to constantly remind myself to be intentional. Similar to when my mind wonders during meditation, when i catch myself drifting I simply acknowledge that it happened and try to get back on track. It’s not about how many times I fell off, but how many times I get on. Drifting is an easy thing to do, which is why we do it, but it allows space for chaos to have it’s way with us and the only way we can defend ourselves is through living with definitive purpose.