Autopilot: The Invisible Opportunity
Autopilot, the silent conductor of our lives, wields both incredible power and perilous influence over our health, wellness, and performance. Paradoxically, it holds the key to both our ascent and our downfall. These two seemingly contradictory statements are a testament to the dual nature of autopilot, often overlooked by many. It quietly resides just beneath the surface, either eroding our future prospects or elevating us to new heights. Our role in this dichotomy begins with a straightforward self-assessment.
Take a moment to traverse your day in your mind’s eye. Jot down everything currently under the sway of autopilot, from the moment you awaken and engage in your morning rituals to your dietary choices, daily commute, lunchtime habits, and even your use of social media and television. Include your time spent outdoors, your activity levels, and your bedtime routine—everything. Studies suggest that a substantial portion, potentially upward of 95%, of our daily routines are governed by autopilot. The more granular our examination, the more opportunities we unearth.
Now, evaluate each item, assigning a positive or negative symbol based on whether it propels you closer to or farther away from becoming the best version of yourself.
Now the key: pick ONE – either a positive autopilot addition or flipping the switch on something that was once a treat and has now gone autopilot rogue. Friends – we’ve all got stuff. If you looked at my list, you’d see plenty of opportunities for positive shifts. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a multitude of changes. Pick one item you’d like to move from autopilot to purposeful. Here’s an example from my life that may help spark an idea for you: I enjoy having a glass of wine with dinner. It’s a treat – until it shifts from being that purposeful treat to autopilot. How can I tell the difference? Simply by looking back over the week. If I’ve had a glass of wine almost every night, that’s no longer a conscious treat – it’s autopilot. On the plus side, I don’t even think about exercise anymore. If it’s M/W/Th/Sat, I’m out running. Sun/T/F? Garage gym it is! Lunch? Salad with a protein source. Afternoon snack? Some almonds and a square of 90% dark chocolate. Easy peasy. Zero mental gymnastics – entirely autopilot.
As much as we may believe our choices are the architects of our lives, the truth is more nuanced. Our autopilot patterns chart our course, either toward improvement or decline, producing outcomes we inadvertently etch into our existence. The question isn’t whether autopilot steers the ship but whether we’ve chosen the right captain.