Is it okay to let someone else call the shots?

Stuck moment: I guess I stopped caring enough about what I want. Everything seemed to be going fine, so it was easier to nod and go along with stuff — even if my heart wasn’t in it. But now it feels like I have no say, and that’s kind of cruddy.

* * *

We get stuck as Drifters when we stop acting in our own best interest. Life’s twists, turns, and demands can weaken our resolve, and in those moments we convince ourselves that things shouldn’t be so challenging. At least that’s our reasoning for taking the path of least resistance. Before we know it, the easy way becomes a habit. So instead of directing our lives according our own wishes and hopes, we just borrow someone else’s. Or we reject the idea of wishing and hoping at all.

However you got derailed — there are at least four main ways — the path that directed you there will also provide your ticket out.

Take our mini-quiz to find your best approach.

Drifter mini-quiz
Think of a time when you were off track with what’s important to you. What did you Feel, Think, and Do? Pick one from each group. This works best when you answer quickly, following your gut instinct.

What did you Feel when you were off track?
A. Resigned.
B. Pragmatic.
C. Useful.
D. Disconnected.

What did you Think when you were off track?
A. Someone else will figure it out.
B. I pick my battles carefully.
C. He needs this more than I do.
D. They just don’t get me.

What did you Do when you were off track?
A. Went along with it.
B. Didn’t pick any battles.
C. Tended to someone else’s details.
D. Skirted the situation.

If you chose mostly A answers, read about Backseat Drifters, below. Mostly B’s, you’re likely a Bulletproof Drifter. C’s are Backstage Drifters, and D’s are Drifters-Without-a-Cause. If you had a mix of letters, you’re a hybrid, which means you’ll find parts of yourself in all four types.

After you’ve read the descriptions, download our Course Corrector worksheet and complete the exercise designed specifically for your Drifter type.

A. Backseat Drifter
You’re everyone’s favorite passenger. You let others take the driver’s seat, and trust them to get the show on the road. Why call the shots when it’s so much easier to go with the flow? This way, if stuff goes wrong, no one can stick the blame on you. Yours is a backseat view of the journey of your own life: As you watch it pass, others decide your direction. After a while, you may not even know what you want anymore.

You need to believe that you can steer your own life. You’ve accepted that someone in your life will always know better. You need to figure out why you don’t speak up for yourself — which means taking a good look at moments when you’ve given up the wheel.

Course-correct by reflecting on two recent stuck moments. Get the exercise.

B. Bulletproof Drifter
You’re a realist, and people appreciate your lack of drama — but your equilibrium has been hard-won. Things started with so much promise, but then the leaps you made fell short of where you’d hoped to go. And that was a blow to your confidence. So now you keep your armor up and expectations down, wherever you’re heading. Or, worse, you go nowhere at all.

You need to believe in the possibility of success. Imagining a bigger future starts with changing your attitude toward mistakes of the past. To be successful, we need to develop our ability to dust ourselves off after a fall and try again. Consider some of history’s greatest failures to show you how.

Course-correct by imagining a world in which quitting is the norm. Get the exercise.

C. Backstage Drifter
You have a special ability to help others find their star. Many would say that you’re selfless for the way you shy away from the spotlight as you work tirelessly behind the scenes — but, deep down, you suspect you don’t deserve first choice anyway. So, while you’re busy helping others stage their scenes, your own dreams gather dust.

You need to believe in your own importance. Think of it this way: If you don’t put yourself first now, when will you? Potential may be endless, but time is finite.

Course-correct by looking at how much time is in your hourglass to devote to yourself. Get the exercise.

D. Drifter-Without-a-Cause
You’re fighting for your identity in a world that tries to fit you in a mold. You want no part of the “norm.” After all, how could you innovate if your individuality is being crushed in the daily grind? So you reject the usual signposts of success…but aren’t quite sure what to substitute for them. And that leaves you without a goal in sight.

You need to believe that you do have a role to play in the world. A single-minded rejection of convention cuts you off from possibility. Practice appreciating both the world and yourself for what you are — and you’ll find there’s a place for your own unique contribution.

Course-correct by discovering the art of seeing from different perspectives. Get the exercise.

DOWNLOAD THIS PRINTABLE WORKSHEET: Course Correctors: How to get your life back on track 

More Unstuck Advice

How to take your ego out of the process When one of my coaching clients, Alex, was passed over for a promotion, she had to reckon with a bruised ego. She felt like a failure and, in her ...
Instant Insight: Stay true It's the easiest thing in the world to get swept away by the allure of a new fashion, new scene, or new crowd. It's also just as easy to feel the need...
How to protect your calm from secondhand anxiety It’s tiring to be around someone who complains, thrives on drama, or is always high-strung and rushing around. After spending time with this p...