I recently power washed my front porch and back patio. Both areas were showing signs of needing a scrub—darker color, some green stuff growing in the shadows. And as soon as I saw the results I knew this project was long overdue. The contrast between what had been cleaned and what hadn’t was striking. The part that had been washed was brighter, cleaner, and more resembled its original state. It also made the sections that had not been washed look worse than I had realized.
As I stared at the contrast—clean vs not—it occurred to me how much this was analogous to life. When the concrete was first poured, it looked fresh and clean, as it was designed to be. The clean concrete reminded me of life when it is clear and focused, confident in who you are and what you’re about. Those times are full of purpose and significance, living in tune with who you were created to be.
But then things change. Gradually of course, like concrete dirties over time. The little changes start to build up and hide your true color. Passion begins to wane. Purpose is no longer so clear. The tyranny of the urgent overtakes the important. And little by little, you drift away from who you were designed to be.
Life is too nuanced to live in perfect tune all the time. Some build-up is inevitable, to an extent. But it can be mitigated, and even prevented, if you know what to do.
Baseball great and pioneer Jackie Robinson is credited with saying, “Life is not a spectator sport.” The first step to addressing drift is to choose to do something about it—choose to engage. Once you’ve made that choice, there are some practical ways to remove the build-up and prevent it from happening going forward.
Be aware. Timothy Gallwey writes, “If you want to change something, first increase your awareness of the way it is. Awareness itself is curative.” Rather than ignore them, notice those areas where you feel like you’ve compromised, settled or drifted. Learn to recognize when you’re not being true to who you are and let that prompt you to make adjustments.
Be clear. Examine your strengths and abilities. Identify your passions and dreams. Write them down and refine them until they clearly and succinctly capture who you are. The more clear the picture, the easier it will be to avoid the drift in the first place. Let this serve as a guide for how you allocate your time and energy.
Be deliberate. Bob Goff writes, “Living a life fully engaged is something that most people plan to do, but along the way they just kind of forget.” Avoiding the drift and build up requires purpose and direction. But good intentions alone aren’t enough. It requires action—moving toward your potential and the fullest expression of who you were created to be.
So, do you need a power wash? I’m speaking metaphorically of course. At 2,000+ PSI I don’t recommend an actual power wash. But if you examine your life and see the signs of drift and accumulated build-up, then it is time for a change. Remember, you have a choice. As Greg McKeown says, “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.” So, what will it be