“Going with the flow” at its best is being flexible and a good team-player. It’s recognizing the elements of life that are outside of our control. It’s allowing ourselves the opportunity to watch and observe other people. It’s giving us time to learn, collect our thoughts, and plan. It is a great skill to know and use – in moderation.
Too much of “going with the flow” can come dangerously close to unintentional living or complacency. We may get lax and give ourselves permission to check out, not be accountable, and not spend energy or effort thinking. We may be drawn to the feeling of being free from judgement, pressure, and expectations, or even the perceived freedom from the fear of disappointing ourselves or others.
Or even more extreme, we may have learned that it was safer not to care. We may have experienced harsh times of being judged, bullied, abused, neglected, or disappointed for having our opinions or actions. Fear creeps in. Our future choices became based on fear instead of desire. Somehow we learn that it isn’t safe to have an opinion nor to pursue it.
This lifestyle or habit can impact your identity and ability to be known. It may be evident through various actions in that you always have to follow trends, be agreeable to everybody else’s opinion without expressing your own, stay over-busy so you don’t have time to think, tune out with media, or pursue any of the numerous forms of addiction.
There definitely is a time and a place for “going with the flow” – AND we also need to be aware of when we need to set our own flow and pace.
In addition to knowing how to “go with the flow” we also need to know how to live intentionally. We need to be certain not to get distracted from living our life, finding and pursuing our long-term goals, or acting in alignment with our values and hopes.
Living intentionally can be as simple as pursuing a goal, whether that goal is long-term or short-term. It means that we’ve taken the time to identify a goal, create a plan, and pursue it. Hopefully we permit ourselves to experiment and change our minds as the many facets of life impact us. As we experiment with who we are and what we want, we get better at it. Through the process of trying, we may learn our values, goals, wishes, and desires. We become equipped with confidence and purpose. The purpose gives our life shape. We may learn how it is that we want to fit in the world. We may also learn how to exist in relationships or learn how to enact healthy boundaries. Time becomes precious.
Living with intentionality can empower us.
The drawback is that intentionality takes energy, effort and determination. We have to remind and re-direct ourselves back to the goal of practicing intentionality. We have to find the people, places, or activities that are going to support this goal.
The effort is worth it! It’s so refreshing to look back at your growth. The growth could be so many things. You may feel more confident and secure in who you are, achieve goals that were previously unknown, start new hobbies, have stories and adventures to tell, have new supportive people in your life, or know that your life has value and meaning. It can impact your life in so many unknown ways!