What I Do When I’m Floundering

What do you do when you can't seem to get your bearings?
Christi Hegstad November 20th, 2022

I once drew a picture in my journal to capture how I was feeling at the moment.

The picture showed me in a canoe, in the middle of a lake, without any oars.

Behind me was the ‘shore of my past.’ To the sides, the roles, people, and events of my present.

Ahead of me … well, I couldn’t tell. And that’s what was bothering me most.

That picture (all drawn with stick figures of course :) ) turned out to capture it perfectly.

Rowing Without Any Oars

Sometimes, I feel like I’ve got it together: I’m completing projects, connecting with others, honoring my priorities, following through on my menu plans.

Other times, I just don’t.

The word I most often use to describe those latter times: Floundering. I feel rudderless in the middle of the water. Sometimes I even feel like I’m in the water, flailing wildly and trying to get my bearings.

I don’t enjoy this feeling of floundering. I am a planner, at times with a side of control freak thrown in, so not having a clear direction nor a way to get there is a very uncomfortable place for me to be.

Can you relate?

Getting My Bearings

Just because I don’t like it, however, doesn’t mean I’m not going to experience it from time to time. Intellectually, I know that discomfort nearly always accompanies growth, which I love and which is a core value of mine.

But in those floundering moments, all I want is to get un-floundered! Here are some practices I’ve found helpful in those times:

Ask ‘What If’ Questions. Specifically, ones that help envision possibility: What if I had no limits and could do anything? What if everything turns out beautifully? What if I’m actually right where I’m supposed to be?

Review The Wins. Here’s where a Success Journal or Celebration of Triumphs can come in extra handy. Written documentation can remind you of your awesomeness when your mind doesn’t seem to want to go there.

Speak, Selectively. While my natural tendency during difficult times is to retreat inward, I’ve found that a conversation with a carefully chosen person – often my coach, a fellow mastermind member, or a close friend – can make all the difference.

I also actively, consciously remind myself that this won’t last forever, that I won’t feel this way forever. Again, I know this intellectually, but sometimes I need the intentional reminder.

Finding My Oars

I’ve learned that, ready or not, periods of floundering are going to appear from time to time. And that sometimes, much to my dismay, I just need to be in the floundering for a while – sitting in the canoe, oarless, in the middle of the lake, and taking some deep breaths.

Because as much as I want to immediately take action and ‘fix it,’ that can often be akin to paddling frantically with just one oar – aka, spinning in circles.

Life has shown me every time, every time, that I’ll eventually find my way again. If you’re reading this right now, life has undoubtedly shown you that, too.

Eventually, the shore ahead becomes clear, the wind shifts in our favor, the oars appear.

Until then, I’ll turn to the practices above to help me make the best of it. And I’d love to add some more – so please share what helps you when you’re floundering, too!

Did you know you can now join the ASPIRE Success Club for a 3-month term instead of the full year? Come and see what we’re all about – enroll today!


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