Have you ever had one of those days where you know you were on “autopilot” mode? Maybe you don’t even remember driving home from work today. I’ve been there!
I’ve defined my autopilot days as “days where I did the bare minimum of what needed to get done… just to get by… just to make it through the day. Blah and don’t bother me.” (*Official ACaton dictionary, circa 2010). Maybe you’re on autopilot right now, and you’re just veggin’ in front of the computer to relax and you have no idea who I am or how you got on this page. Aaagggh. Sorry about your luck. Oh, I can SOOO relate. As humans, I believe we are definitely entitled to our autopilot days… mmm, hmmm, preach it!
I find myself doing the bare minimum at various times. Why? Maybe it's crazy circumstances I can’t control, extremes amount of stress, and sometimes simply because of what’s going on in my thoughts—having nothing to do with what’s going on around me. For example: last year about this time, I started the beginning of a big rough patch in life due to external stressful factors as well as “internal” stuff (aka my crazy brain! ha). I went on autopilot mode in daily life – not just for a couple of days but for an extended period of time. Have you been there?
So after the rough patch subsided, things got better… nice vague story, Amy. Well, my whole point is that I had developed some habits during that time. I wasn’t walking around being a HORRIBLE person (hopefully not-eeek!), but unfortunately, I had developed some “autopilot” habits over the course of several months. Little habits that aren’t really a big deal until you start adding them up. I look back and see certain things that really did affect daily life like my parenting and marriage, and let me tell you -- I’m not proud of it. Habits like poor time priorities, more selfishness and quite honestly, more laziness had somehow crept into my daily routine!
I’m not sharing this to have a pity party. I write this because I know some of you can relate, even if you aren’t going through a dark, low time. It’s hard to break habits!
So what have I been doing since all that junk happened?? Well, I decided to start to attempt to be more proactive and not reactive with a few areas of my life that were very important to me.
I wanted to get out of survival mode.
Let’s take parenting, for example. I started brainstorming ideas on how to be a better mom. (And um, yes, that can be humbling!) I used to do that more often, but it had been a long time! I began talking more again to experienced moms whom I want to be like, and I started reading more. It was very motivating! Another example: spirituality. Even though I had been praying a lot through a rough time, I had not been investing much time and energy into connecting and learning about God on a regular basis. I decided to do a 10-week intense and wonderful study about Jesus with some women with whom I could confide. This study was a great jump-start to help get me into a daily routine of talking and LOVING to read and learn about who God says He is.
And wow, when I feel like I’m in a rut… it’s so fun to try something new, isn’t it? There’s something so fresh and reviving about doing new and different things--things out of the ordinary, daily grind.
So I’m thinking… what if we turned off the autopilot switch and got out of survival mode? What are some areas we can be proactive and get out of our rut? Here are a few ideas, just scratching the surface. They may or may not apply, but it's fun to brainstorm!
-Take a loved one or a new friend out to lunch or coffee.
-Help a single parent or young family by bringing them dinner or babysitting for a few hours this weekend.
-Change up whom you go out to lunch with at work one day this week. Or actually take a lunch break at work one day this week.
-Start looking for a mentor, someone doing something well in an area you would like to grow.
-Give your spouse a massage with no expectations or strings attached (even if they’ve been acting like a jerk – probably means he/she REALLY needs a massage! ha).
-Go to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual.
-Try something new. Who cares if you stink at it?
-Go out to a movie or a coffee shop by yourself for some much needed alone time.
-Go on a date with your spouse every other week for a while. (It’s SOO worth it, for crying out loud!)
-Spend a full hour goofing off at home with your child with no phones, TVs or laptops (or iPod Touch in my case, ahem!). Now that it’s almost spring, we can go outside again, yay!
-Take a new step to investigate who/what God really is.
-Go to a place in your town or city that you’ve never visited.
-Take your child on a date and go somewhere new. If you have more than one, go out with one at a time.
-Join a new exercise class.
And the list goes on… and on… and on… And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go see the movie, Avatar, this afternoon. All by myself.
I would love to know -- what do you do to get out of autopilot mode?
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