“The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.”
~ Mike Murdoch

It’s said that how you do anything is how you do everything… so, I ask you to think about the typical pace of your day. Are you mindful and present to all you have in front of you, or do you race through the day trying to get it all done? Unfortunately, in our busy, distracted lives, the latter is more common, but if you want success, you need a daily routine that will help you unleash it. And it starts with getting present.

Watch the video below, and then read the blog post that follows for signs you’re on auto-pilot (and how to turn it off).

How often do you have days when you wonder how you’ll ever get it all done; how you’ll ever sort through the endless work-life demands and scrape together enough extra time and energy to get ahead… even a little bit ahead? Or to just relax? Maybe a better question to ask is, when was the last time you felt truly on top of things? When was the last time you really felt like you had it all together? It’s an important question, because it’s hard to feel successful if you always feel behind, because let’s face it, you were put on this planet to live a fun and fulfilling life.

It’s not always easy though. Life is busy. It’s an overused statement, but only because it’s so freakin’ true; Get up, eat, work, eat, sleep, repeat. Get up, eat, get the kids going, work, eat, workout, sleep, repeat. Get up, eat, walk the dog, work, work, work, eat, sleep, repeat. The variables change from person to person, and likely there are a lot more of them, but you get the drift. Get up, do life, sleep, repeat… day after day after day. Often until you’re tired, burnt out, overwhelmed and stressed. In your quest to get everything done, you’ll initiate that routine without really thinking. As a defense against the endless demands of our lives, we rush through the day on auto-pilot – making unconscious, automatic decisions that don’t necessarily align with how we want to work and live.

In an ideal, less chaotic world you might shift into auto-pilot for a ‘short flight’ now and then, during a particularly busy day or week, but if autopilot is your normal, watch out. In the rush to get it all done, it’s easy to set personal needs to the side, slip into drone-mode and monotonously fly through your tasks in that zombie-space. Humans on auto-pilot don’t work as well as airplanes on auto-pilot. It’s a control mechanism that will slow your progress forward and stop you from going in the direction you really want to go. And, if you stay in that flight mode too long, you’ll get off course. You’ll lose sight of what is truly important. You’ll get lost. Auto-pilot is purely a survival tactic, and it’s not how we work.

If you feel like you’re going through the motions some days (or many), if life feels too routine or a bit mundane, if you’re constantly rushing out the door, rushing to get it all done, or wondering when you’ll find a bit of calm, and you’re feeling the chaos of life, then it might be time to get present to the mess. Here are four of the more common signs that you’re on auto-pilot (and three steps to turn it off):

1)  Every day is like the day before. You already know what you’re doing next week (all week), who you’ll talk to (same 10 people), what you’ll have for lunch (same as yesterday), even where you’re going for holidays (same as last year), and it hasn’t occurred to you to change things up.

2)  You start the day with your device, and you check it all day long. When you wake up, your first entry point into the day is to check your phone. In your mind you tell yourself it’s so you can stay on top of things, but in reality, it’s an auto-pilot habit that ends up taking control of how your day unfolds. Then through the day you find yourself constantly checking in, and mindlessly scroll through emails and social media every chance you get.

3)  You do things without thinking, and say YES without pause. You take action without asking yourself what you’re doing, how you’re doing it or whether you should even be doing it. Your goal is to get it all done, and you’re so busy it doesn’t occur to you that you could be taking action on the wrong tasks. And, if someone asks you for help, no matter what the ask, your default response is usually yes. You find yourself helping, hosting, volunteering, staying late, coming in early, or working on tasks that aren’t on your job description or of the least bit interest to you.

4)  You aren’t clear about what’s important to you. You’re busy and have a lot on your plate, yet don’t stop to think what is important to you in your work and life, or you don’t really know. You go through each day making one unconscious decision after another and have lost sight of your dreams.

Often, we get stuck on autopilot because life is busy and overwhelming, and its easier to stick to a predictable routine, or numb out in the digital space, or do it ourselves because it’s quicker than showing someone else how. We don’t try new things or step outside our comfort zone because we don’t have time or energy. We put off doing things for ourselves for the same reason. And all these autopilot defense mechanisms keep life predictable, somewhat manageable, and inevitably stalled. As life flies at you from every direction day after day, you can square your shoulders and karate chop your way through the chaos, chasing every last to-do until you’re too done… or you can follow these three steps to get present:

The first step is to admit you’re tuned out to certain aspects of your day. If you’re navigating your day, so busy that you’re only half-conscious of what you’re doing, not pausing to consider what you want or need for yourself…you’re on auto-pilot.

Step 2, break away from ‘busy’ and take 10 to ask yourself, What’s working? What’s not? What do I want more of? What do I need to say no to? Figure out where you want to fly in this next stage of your journey, and then switch off that auto-pilot and put your eyes to the horizon.

Step 3, start each day by taking 5 minutes (heck, 2 will do) to get clear about even one thing you want to accomplish today.  And then start on it. It’s a simple way to take back control of what’s important to you…and it also helps you practice being mindful of what you need for yourself at any given moment.

Let the routine of your day sound more like this: Get up, dream big, #DTFW, grow as a person, sleep, repeat. More fun, more fulfilling and definitely more focused.

If you need another nudge, go watch to video #7 Existential Spring Clean. In that video, I guide you through a work-life re-think process that’s worth repeating as part of this reboot. Go watch that one again (or the others in this series) … or email me for an exercise to help you gain more clarity

Share this post with anyone you think is stuck on auto-pilot. And, if you need a compassionate and caring COACHING kick-in-the-butt you can connect with me through the website too.

You only get one chance at this fabulous life, I say dare to live it big!

Michelle Cederberg, CSP, MKin, BA Psyc

Empowering today’s dreamers, leaders and go-getters to create the life and career they want.


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