Every time I get in the ocean I have to be super focused on where I get in the water and where my stuff is on the beach. There’s nothing more frustrating to me than swimming in the ocean for a while, then walking back to the beach, only to find that the current unsuspectingly pulled me 100 yards away from where I entered the water. During the walk back to my original spot on the beach, I am always amazed at how far I moved when I didn’t think I was moving at all.

Undertow, on the other hand, is another beach force that pulls you in an unintended direction. The difference is that you can really feel the undertow at your feet. There’s nothing unsuspecting about it. As the waves crash towards the shore, the undertow pulls in the opposite direction along the sandy bottom, beneath the waves. You have to brace yourself and be diligent about not falling over and not being pulled into deeper water. Undertow can be mild and it can be dangerously strong.

Whether we live at the beach or not, all of our daily lives have similar forces at work trying to pull us away from where we are and where we want to be. Some are invisible and some aren’t. Either way, they are very real, and it takes a keen eye and intuition to recognize them and avoid having them pull us into a life of mediocrity…or worse.

If you are wondering how to best handle these negative forces, it’s best to remember the old saying, “The best defense is a good offense.” That means you have to know what you want, where you want to go, who you want to become and/or how you want to feel. I don’t think it necessarily has to be a detailed, specific plan to start with. Just start with something so that you can measure certain people and tasks against your “something.” Secondly, you have to be committed to filter and/or eliminate people and tasks that work against what it is that you have decided you want. A lot of this can be done proactively, as you probably already know who and what helps you, who and what should help you and who and what doesn’t help at all.

After this initial thought process, you’re going to have to live your life and make daily decisions that either move you towards what you want or take you further from it. Just like sports, you start your game with a well thought out game plan, then you make adjustments based on the weather, field conditions, etc. The better you adjust, the more satisfied you will be…and the more on target you will become.

It’s funny…the more focus you have on where you want to go and the deeper your commitment to that is, the more you will see everything in your life as simply being helpful or just an obstacle for you to work around. It’s hard for your life’s exterior conditions to trump what you determine, unless there are cracks in your determination. Just like swimming in the ocean, keep a sharp eye on your spot on the beach and don’t stop swimming until you get there. ☺