Ever drive home and have no memory of the trip?
Mean to stop at the grocery store but end up at home anyway?
Lock your car only to check it 12 seconds later because you can't remember if you did or not.
I've done these things countless times.
Apparently I'm not going senile and this is quite a common occurrence.
In fact, you can experience this autopilot phenomenon during any activity you can do without conscious thought, such as driving, walking, or brushing your teeth. Luckily it's generally not a problem during these mundane tasks.
But what happens when you start running other areas of your life on autopilot...
Your morning routine.
The number of hours you work.
Conversations you have with friends and family.
What you do when you first sit at the computer.
Checking your phone for every notification.
Even the foods you eat.
It's not unusual to go days... weeks... even months running through the same autopilot actions without thinking about them.
And if they're not positive actions you've consciously developed into habits then you can imagine how quickly your goals can get off track.
Suddenly you get to the end of the week and even though you feel like you were busy you're not actually sure what you did and nothing important seems to have got done.
You beat yourself up for not being productive, set the same goals again, and repeat the cycle.
The problem is most people never become consciously aware they're running on autopilot. And by the time you see the effects it's too late to do anything about it.
The key is to become aware of the autopilot actions you're engaging in... and then turn your autopilot off.
How do you do this?
Just by reading this email and being reminded about this phenomenon is a great start. You might begin to notice yourself thinking about areas of your life you haven't been paying much attention to. And you can start to become conscious of the little routines you repeat over and over that might not be serving you.
I also find it helpful to use little pattern interrupts to break the autopilot...
If the number of hours I'm sitting at the computer starts creeping up without being more productive then I'll set a calendar alarm for the same time each day to remind me to log off.
If I'm off my workout routine I'll put my gym clothes next to my bed in the evening so they're the first thing I see in the morning.
If I'm checking Facebook on my phone too much then I'll hide the app in a folder called "Don't Do It" as a reminder to put the phone down.
Soon enough you don't need the reminders.
You develop positive habits and start unconsciously choosing actions that will get you closer to your goals. Now your autopilot is working for you.
What autopilot activities are you not even aware of that are impacting your results?