This Is What Happens When You Live Life In “Neutral”

Justin Zack
4 min readFeb 6, 2024
Photo by Geranimo on Unsplash

You’ve probably heard the famous quip: “A ship in the harbor is safe but that’s not what ships are built for.”

It’s true and one that resonates deeply with me.

But there’s an even deeper truth that I’ve found that plagues me and others like me who struggle with making their own decisions.

It goes like this:

A ship out of harbor without a captain, is at the mercy of the sea.

Shift into neutral, go with the flow, play it by ear, we’ll figure it out. Let the current take us where it wills. It’s an adventure.

Easy going. Yep.

Low stress. Check.

Here’s the problem:

When you live life in neutral. You lose your life.

Just as a ship needs a captain to navigate the challenges of the sea, you need to steer your life.

The reality is, without direction, you are lost. Because your destination is unknown.

But when you choose to raise the sails, chart a course, and weather the storms, you are sailing.

You have direction.

You have purpose.

I’m 50, and for the longest time, I thought my super flexible, go with the flow, adaptable attitude was my superpower.

Where do you want to for dinner? I don’t care. You decide.

Should we do this project? Sure. You decide.

Let’s go get a dog. Ok. But what kind? You decide.

What do you want to do with your life?

I DON’T KNOW. YOU DECIDE.

Ridiculous, right?!

I thought people would like me more because I was “easygoing.”

But what I’ve learned is that bending over backwards to accommodate others is the fastest way to lose yourself and your life. Failing to choose and letting others decide for you, may feel noble, humble, and honoring toward another person and to some extent is, but not when you hide your truth: how you are thinking, feeling, and your desires.

--

--

Justin Zack

Project leader. Product thinker. Write about human things. Find me at justinzack.com