According to science and research, most of us live 95% to 97% of our lives on autopilot . . . we don’t consciously think about many of the things we are doing each day.
Some of you might be surprised by that number.
Let’s reflect on this for a moment.
- You got up this morning.
- Did you follow the same routine you had done for months and years, not varying it at all?
- Did you even think about what you did first?
Just this morning, my sequence of events happened as it does every single morning: Get up, visit the washroom, take a multivitamin, turn on the podcast, shave, shower, and dress—breakfast 9 times out of 10 consists of consuming the same items in identical order.
Where is the intentionality in our routines if we don’t even think about what we are doing anymore? Have you ever arrived at a location in your vehicle, then thought, how did I get here? Some of you drove to work today and did not think about your route.
The point is that most of our life is lived according to our autopilot, our subconscious minds, rather than through any intentionality (proactive thinking) on our part!
To be intentional is to knowingly choose your direction and shake up the routine occasionally to get your conscious mind working.
Some teach that we should have routines to lessen the burden of all the choices we have to make, and there is some truth to that strategy.
But what happens when we allow our routines to run our lives rather than intentionally engaging them? Autopilot costs us lost opportunities, or it may take us completely off course, landing us at a destination we have not envisioned or planned. That happens when we don’t consciously or intentionally take over from our autopilot — a sin of omission.
Your life can be negatively affected by what you don’t do as much as what you do.
A few years ago, I took charge of my health and wellness, which had fallen into disrepair. After I chose to get intentional with my health, I set a new direction, changed my routine, and lost nearly 40 pounds. Scroll ahead 3 years to where I injured myself playing hockey, which forced me to miss my workouts for a couple of months. I gained 10 pounds right away and didn’t return to working out.
It took a new level of intentionality on my part to get back on track. I can credit my wife, Brenda, for some friendly competition she secretly trained and surprised me by running a 10K race. Yes, I was proud of her, but my competitive side said, if she can do this, so can I!
So, , I stepped up my efforts and began to follow a 10K training schedule. The workout had something different every day, making it challenging and far more enjoyable than repeating the same workout routine each session. My new enthusiasm gave me important insight that my motivation to work out prior to the 10K training plan had reduced significantly. I now realize I was resisting because I was bored and stuck in a routine (autopilot).
I competed and completed my first 10K race because I chose to be intentional! Now this was a few years ago and my lifestyle and injuries no longer allow me to do competitive running – so my wife and I have made the choice to walk 10,000 steps together 3-5 times per week weather permitting. Now we achieve two things at once – relationship and connection building plus fitness and movement. This shift was intentional.
Too many routine and autopilot responses can lead to our becoming stale and to outcomes we don’t really want.
Review the Action Steps to confirm possible ways you can shift from autopilot living to being intentional in all areas of your life.
The Power of Being Intentional
- Upon reflection, what percentage of your life is on autopilot?
- Which of your routines, responses, and activities are on autopilot? Make a quick list of those items.
- What do you want to change to become more intentional in your life? Think about all the areas of your life: personal, physical, relationships, financial, career, recreation, friends, social, spiritual, mental, emotional, and anything else that is important to you.
- One way to shift behaviors is to map out a new destination. What new outcomes or goals will help overcome your autopilot?
- To help you on this journey, switch up a regular routine to get yourself off autopilot. Drive a different route, do things in a new order, try something new, phone new friends, and so on. Force yourself to get out of the rut, so your mind must become intentional with each new step.
- To be more intentional, you must know yourself. Complete CRGs Values Preference Indicator (VPI) and Personal Style Indicator (PSI) to get to know yourself better . . . so you can be intentional!
- Read Why Aren’t You More Like Me?“! It provides a roadmap for understanding yourself and others. You will learn about your natural tolerance for risk and be better able to play to your strengths.
- Consider using The Quest For Purpose Journal to find your life purpose and to help you live your life intentionally.
- Hey, make this fun! Enjoy the ride of turning off your autopilot and flying intentionally in your life.
Until next time, keep Living On Purpose!