Are you sinking, floating, treading water or swimming?

How is your life going?

How is your career going?

How often do you stop and ask yourself these questions?

(And how often do you get asked 4 rapid-fire questions to start an article?)

Self-Evaluation

If you don’t perform a simple self-evaluation regularly you are likely to waste valuable time and energy moving in the wrong direction. Or not moving at all. And honey-child, your time is far too valuable to be wasted.

The 4-Mode Method

We are always in one of these 4 modes:¬†Sinking, Floating, Treading Water, or Swimming. (We are also sometimes in pie √†-la-mode, but that’s a different story.) Use the following criteria to determine how things are going at any given point.

Sinking

Sinking means you are not keeping up with the most basic requirements. You are falling behind. You are regressing. You are deeper in effort-debt each day. Sinking is failing. Untreated health issues, substance abuse, and other addictions can all contribute to sinking. Without an intervening act, sinking will lead you to the bottom of the pool. If you are sinking you need help. Don’t be afraid to ask for it. If you don’t, sooner or later you won’t be able to ask for anything again. (That went dark quickly…)

Do you sink you are sinking? (Ask in your best German accent.)

Floating

Floating means you are putting in the minimum effort. You are waiting. You are doing nothing to improve, grow, or progress. You are simply letting external forces have their way with you. Floating leads to a lot of regret at the end of your days.

Don’t be a floater. Also, don’t wear a white shirt in the water.

Treading Water

Treading water means you are putting in an effort. You are expending energy. But it is ineffective. All of your motion is simply enabling you to hold your current position. Your intention is good. But your results are not. It is like floating but with a terrible return on your calories burned.

Treading water is motion without results. It’s also what people are doing in scary movies before the underwater thing attacks.

Swimming

Swimming means you are making progress. You have forward movement. You have coordinated efforts. Swimming means that you have discovered a repeatable process that works. You have direction. You have a goal and you are working towards it.

Just keep swimming.

Key Takeaway

Always be swimming. Know what you want and work to get it. It’s the only way to get ahead. And it’s the best way to make the best use of your time.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

Why you should approach life like an otter.

In July my family and I visited Glacier National Park in Montana. ‘Visited’ is probably an understatement. We fully immersed ourselves in the experiences available within the park for 2 full days. For anyone who hasn’t been there, Glacier is one of the greatest places on Earth. Full of spectacular scenery, animals and, as the name would indicate, glaciers.

One of our many hikes in the park was along a glacial-fed stream. As a reward after the hike, my 3 children and I swam in the swiftly flowing, ice-cold stream. We slid down the long, flat rocks just under the crystal clear water. The rocks were like giant non-yellow Slip N’ Slides that dropped us into deep, swirling pools. It was the kind of waterpark that would have offered Pebbles and Bam Bam a yabba-dabba-doo time.

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Despite the very cold water, our hardy viking children frolicked and played as if the water was the perfect temperature. Which it may have been, given the July heat that was eating the glaciers like Joey Chestnut.

While my kids and I swam and played in the frigid trailside stream, a regular trickle of hikers trekked past us. After a few minutes I spotted an interesting trend. The hikers all stopped to watch us. As they did, they looked on with a sense of envy. It was as if we were more interesting than the epic natural beauty that surrounded us. And despite the fact that everyone there was on vacation, my kids appeared to be having a better time than anyone else.

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Why? Because we weren’t just following the trails. We were diving into the water. We were playing. My kids and I were drinking it all up and fully experiencing all the wonder the national park had to offer.

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When I stopped swimming to watch my kids awhile, I saw what the spectators saw. My kids were like otters in the water. They were having more fun than anyone else in the vast national park. They were finding the full joy in a glacier-fed stream. They were as alive as humans get. It was clear that we were watching a lifetime memory in the making.

Key Takeaway

Be the otter. Dive into all that life has to offer. Take on adventures. Play and enjoy the simplest things. Create fun. Do what others wish they were doing. Be a model for others to follow. Life is a one way trip. Make sure to experience each day fully, both in your work and in your play. Don’t settle for memories of watching others having fun. Experience it for yourself. Or someday you will wish you had.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.