Home / Habits / Caught In The Undertow – Can You Afford to Take a Break?

Caught In The Undertow – Can You Afford to Take a Break?

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Last week I got to spend some time in California on the beach with my family. It finally took the opportunity to try something I’ve always wanted to do: surfing.

I had watched a bunch of instructional videos on YouTube and in my mind I would be able to stand right up on the first try and cut back and forth across the crashing wave. I imagined it would look like the GoPro videos, with me inside a curling tube of water.

Imagination is a funny thing.

Let’s just say it was two days before I was even able to stand up on the board and catch a wave. I felt like the most unathletic and awkward person on the planet.

One thing I noticed during the week was that not far from the shore there was a slight undertow that would slowly pull me down the beach away from where my family was playing. Even though I would get up and fall repeatedly in what I thought was the same place, I was actually slowly being pulled away. In fact, if I just sat on the surfboard for a few minutes and watched for waves coming in, I would find that I had drifted 100 yards down the shore from where my family was. Without doing anything, I was moving away from where I wanted to be. swimming

In life, we are always learning and trying new things. And whether we realize it or not, we are always moving in one direction or another. We are either paddling hard to catch the next wave or we are slowly being pulled away from our goal.

There is no such thing as holding steady, taking a break, or stopping where you are.

Time moves on, life moves on, the world around you moves on. So if you stop working to improve yourself, you don’t just stay in the same place, you don’t even stay the same person, you are actually getting left behind. The clock doesn’t pause because you are tired, depressed, or need to take a break from everything. If you stop to take a break, you are getting left behind. If you think you have accomplished enough, you are getting left behind. If you let self-doubt keep you from opportunities in your path, you are getting left behind.

A happy and fulfilling life is all about not getting left behind; not getting passively pulled away in the undertow because you did nothing. Life is about constant forward progress. It is about taking advantage of the time we are given. It is about getting better every day. Whether you are working on little things or big accomplishments, you have to keep progressing. Maybe it is a bad habit you are working on dropping or a good habit you are trying to get started. Maybe it is saving money for a house, or working towards a promotion, or trying to be a better parent. There are an infinite number of ways that you can improve and take steps forward. You must keep swimming in the right direction.

Some ideas to help keep you progressing:

  1. Write down your life goals every morning and decide what you can do today to get closer to them.
  2. Decide to learn something new every day: go online, read a book, watch a documentary, etc.
    21 Days to Greater Success!

    21 Days to Success!

  3. Stay motivated! Find blogs and websites that uplift you and keep you recharged.
  4. Do something nice for one person every day: a “thank you” card, a compliment, an act of service.
  5. Write in a journal. It is amazing what that act alone will do for you and your progress.

(If you’d like a guide to help make these things a daily habit, check out my book The 3-Week Miracle) →→→

The world we are a part of is ever-changing, difficult, and uncertain. The only constant and universal path you can travel is that of consistent self-improvement. No matter what is going on around you, you can always set personal goals for yourself that move you in the right direction.

DoryLife will never be fulfilling for you unless you are moving forward. You can run, walk, crawl if you need to, but keep moving forward. If you stop, you’ll be caught in the undertow and get left behind. You will be pulled down the shore, farther away from where you want to be.

Like Dory said in the movie Finding Nemo: “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.”


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  1. I love this post! Thanks. I stepped back from writing my blog everyday as I did for over a year and threw my interest into becoming a better painter, now that my mentor is home again. (She spent the past 20 years in Florida.) I felt bad about editing my first novel and not writing something new. . . but what I was doing was exploring some other facet in my life. Thanks for making that okay. Who knows, maybe my blog will get activated again.

  2. What a fantastic post! just as I was asking myself in my search for a job, having applied to 80 of them in almost two months…can I take a break today and come up for air a little bit ?and then there’s you and Dory saying “just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming”
    Got it!

    • Keep your head up and keep swimming. The best things come to those who are persistent and they usually come just when you are about to give up. Keep at it! Life consistently rewards persistent effort!

  3. This blog hits close to home, as two men lost their lives to the undertow last weekend just a few miles from my home.
    The undertow or riptide needs to be respected for the powerful force that it is. And as you stated never allow it to drag you too far off course; when it does you need to stay calm and swim sideways, parallel to the shore until you no longer feel it’s pull. Then you can safely come to shore.
    Often in the midst of our lives we forget that we should stay calm and carry on! We also need to realize that we can not compare ourselves to others. We need to be in it for more than competition, without passion we will never win. Winning is not about first place but how well one plays the game.
    I may not have 1000’s of followers for my blog or big bucks in my bank account. Yet, I write for the passion of sharing and I use whatever time, talents and money I have to give back to my community. That way I am a contributor.
    I am an advocate of being a life-long learner yet sometimes we put way to much emphasis on credentials and not enough on heart. Everyone has something to add to the pot.

  4. Daniel Guerrero P.

    is there available the 3 week miracle in kindle edition?

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