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How to Spend Less Time on Autopilot and More Time Living

The art and science of conscious living.

When times get tough, I have a habit of going into autopilot mode. I learned to do this long ago – it was a way of making sure I got things done, even if all hell was breaking loose around me. So I guess you could say it works for me. Except when it doesn’t.

The trouble with autopilot mode is that it has no heart. You do everything by rote, without putting any of yourself into it. This is because you care more about getting things done than about how you do them. Or why you’re doing them. And when you do things without heart, your heart shuts off… a bit, at first, and a lot if your autopilot state persists.

Once you start to shut off your heart to get tasks done, you also start to shut it off for everything else. You see, you can’t selectively shut your heart off – hearts don’t work like that. They’re either open, or they’re not. So while you may be efficient on autopilot, you’re not effective. Effectiveness has a level of complexity that requires heart. Chances are, when you’re on autopilot, you’re not being as compassionate, either. Compassion comes from the heart.

When your heart shuts off, your groove is another casualty. I describe my ‘groove’ as a combination of my particular rhythm – my essence and how it manifests – and my routine.

It took me years to find my groove. I was subjected to such a dominant nurture environment as a child that my groove was silenced. What I thought was my groove wasn’t mine at all – it belonged to my nurturers. Being groove-less for all those years had a huge impact on me. I became very task-orientated – it was my way of feeling more in control of my life. I had little resilience. I wasn’t very happy. I tended to overreact to challenging situations. I was a stress-head. I got sick with an autoimmune disease. I hid behind my autopilot efficiency. Yet, my innate personality often came to my rescue, enabling me to build an amazing network of friends, and a successful career.

Once I found my groove, life got much easier. And happier. I became more productive and my creativity started to come to the fore. I became much more resilient to whatever life threw at me. I got the autoimmune disease I’d developed into remission, without medication. All was good.

Except when my groove disappeared. It did this when I became overwhelmed by or disinterested in what I was doing. Then I’d default to my old autopilot behaviour pattern. And stay there for a while, because I wouldn’t notice that I was in autopilot mode. Autopilot is, after all, a subconscious behaviour. Some time later, I’d notice that my joie de vivre was missing. The minute that happened, I could switch out of it – action follows awareness.

Nowadays, my autopilot moments are few and far between, and not as long-lasting. I am, for the most part, in my groove – and here’s what that looks like:

  • I have a clear life vision.

  • I have a comprehensive list of all the components that will bring me to this vision. Knowing your life’s purpose is the starting place.

  • I set 90-day/monthly/weekly goals for all these components and take action on them, every day.

  • I act consciously on a daily basis, doing only those things that bring me towards my vision.

  • I create healthy habits out of as many of my desired behaviours as possible. That way, they move into my subconscious mind and free up space in my conscious mind for things that arise. Many of my healthy habits are daily ones – these have become as automatic to me as brushing my teeth.

My younger self would laugh at my planning, process and routines. “How stifling this all must be!”, she’d say.

But she’d be wrong.

Being in my groove keeps me anchored. Instead of limiting my life with goals and plans, being in my groove has liberated me. It has allowed me to live with limitless wholeness.

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

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10 self-fulfilment fails

The path to self-fulfilment is paved with good intentions, but more often than not, the way you actually live makes you feel anything but self-fulfilled.

Here are 10 signs you’re failing at self-fulfilment.

  1. You’re so busy, you barely have time to eat. There are a million and one things on your To Do list, all of them important. It’s a good thing you’re a pro at putting your head down, because that’s what you need to do.
  2. You go through the motions, day in, day out, and can’t remember the last time you were engaged in what you were doing. Still, you get things done, so that’s good.
  3. There is so much on your plate right now, you don’t know what to do. You feel completely overwhelmed and can’t see a way forward. This makes you feel pretty useless and lost.
  4. Every day, you wake up tired. It doesn’t matter how much sleep you had, you’re tired from dawn till dusk. And even though you’re tired when you go to bed, you just can’t seem to turn off your mind… so the cycle continues.
  5. Nothing ever goes your way. It’s not your fault – you just aren’t lucky. Other people are much luckier than you – they don’t realise how easy life is for them. It’s not easy for you – no matter how hard you try, you don’t succeed at anything.
  6. B.O.R.I.N.G. That’s your day. It’s your life, actually – that’s how it feels to you these days. You’re bored with what you’re doing and you’re bored with yourself.
  7. Everything has to be JUST RIGHT. Nothing else will do. You will do anything to make sure something is perfect – you can’t bear the thought of someone finding fault with what you’ve done.
  8. Even though you’re busy, you say yes – after all, it’s a favour for a friend. And that friend is so appreciative of your help that she’s always asking you for favours – you’re her go-to-person. Being wanted like this makes you feel good about yourself.
  9. You have all of these grand plans and dreams and love nothing more than to imagine what life would be like if one of them came true. But you don’t do anything to make them come true. After all, if you did and the reality wasn’t as good as the dream, where would you be?
  10. You spend a lot of your time comparing yourself to others, making sure that you come out on top. You take verbal shots at their garden gnomes, the way they dress, their make-up (or lack thereof), the car they drive – anything really… as long as you look better as a result.

Burying yourself in work, living on autopilot, being overwhelmed, feeling world-weary, seeing yourself as a victim, boredom, perfectionism, people-pleasing, procrastination and comparing yourself to others are ALL signs that your life isn’t self-fulfilling. They are signs that you’re distracting yourself from the reality of your life, that you’re feeling a loss of control, or that your self-confidence is low.

Self-fulfilment comes from a mindset that can be learned by anyone (see this article). And self-fulfilment feels good – it makes you feel more alive, more creative and more engaged with your life.

So take action today and stop failing at self-fulfilment!

 

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).