I have found myself “waking-up,” so to speak, from a dream where 1 year of my life just passed without a single thing accomplished. What happened over the past 12 months? I don’t remember doing anything substantial, where was I? This happens because we live our lives on autopilot. We turn our minds off and let our muscle memory and quick recall take control. What a fun life to live right? Not for me! Walking in place does nothing other than tire me out. I need to be moving forward, not in circles.
Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize winning psychologist has found that our minds are divided into two systems; System 1 and System 2. System 1 is our quick recall, automatic thinking and System 2 is where effort into thinking is required. System 1 is used most of the time, when we drive to work, talk to our friends about work or drive home. These actions are empty, take no effort nor do they engage emotion. Our System 2 takes over when it’s time to think through a situation, problem, issue, or dilemma.
I will argue, as Daniel Kahneman will, that System 1 has its benefits for mundane activities that require no thought. However, too much of our lives is wasted due to autopilot. If our autopilot is always engaged then we are just existing not living. I get it, it’s comfortable to let our lives live us instead of living our lives. It takes no effort to get complacent, the real challenge is when we turn off autopilot and go into manual. The important things we lose sight of require thought and emotion, (e.g. goal setting, planning, and striving for achievement.) In my case, one of the reasons autopilot took over is because I wasn’t doing anything meaningful. I was doing the minimum and it didn’t require much. I’ll tell you right now that I wasn’t happy, autopilot is a one-way road to mediocrity.
Autopilot takes a conscious effort to turn off, but as soon as that happens life begins to take a turn for the better. It’s amazing what a simple thought can do for us. At least for me ‘thinking’ brought me so much more. I have found that autopilot is easy and comfortable to use. That makes it a constant battle to overcome. I have fallen into the mediocre life by letting autopilot take over more than I’d like to admit. Where is your personality, your drive, your vision, your passion, even your love when it’s not you in control? It’s time to live you life. Decide right now to prove to yourself that success is just a decision a way.